8. Drive Center
The removable tapered steel shaft that presses its point and teeth into the wood blank, securing it to the headstock spindle. On the other end, the drive center wedges into the headstock spindle with a “Morse Taper”. Most lathes use a #2 Morse Taper.
Most older lathes, like mine, came with a “Spur Center”, which is a 4 prong drive center as seen above. The prongs are pounded into the end grain of the wood blank. While many people still use this, a more safe drive center has emerged called a “Steb Drive” or “Steb Center” (or even “Stebcentre” in the UK). Steb Centers have small teeth around the circumference of the spring loaded point in the center:
This design acts like a clutch on a hand drill when you get a catch on the lathe. Rather that the tool catching on the wood, and ripping a big chunk out of the wood (and likely causing you to run for a change of pants) the wood stops on your tool, and the Steb Center just spins. This is especially comforting for new woodturners who are nervous about the dangers of a wood catch, especially with a skew chisel.
Here is a good video that demonstrates how effective steb centers are at preventing catches: