I had one of the multi-jaw kits, and it did the job but wasn't nearly as smooth or consistent as my two Nova chucks. I eventually got rid of it. I've seen quite a few posts on forums from guys who were happy with theirs, and I might have just gotten a lemon, but I don't think I'd buy another one.
I have four of the Barracuda chucks... one with a number 4 jaws, one with pin jaws, and one I swap back and forth with the number 2 jaws or a longer set same size as number 2, plus one dedicated to my cole jaws... all work for what I need them to do, don't have any problems with them, except if I open the Cole jaws too wide, over the 8 inch size, one or more of the slides will drop out of the jaws... it's my oldest chuck so may be worn a bit... also have a Grizzly Barracuda look=alike that has number 2 jaws that open slightly smaller than the real Barracudas.... also tends to slip occasionally... and jaws are not interchangeable as I had hoped..... my primary complaint and it's not a real issue, but it takes three hands to mount a bowl blank if the jaws are on the spindle... I usually mount with the blank on the ways and let the weight of the chuck set the jaws.... the tommy bars get to be a pain sometimes... would rather have the single key like the Nova or other name brand chucks. Not going to change at this stage as too much $$ tied up in the chucks I have.
Chuck, I understand the $$$$ as much as anyone. You stated that when opening the jaws that the slides come off. So, it has no stops like the Novas do. That is one of the reasons I was looking for another chuck. The one I have my 8" Cole Jaws on does that as well. Very aggravating. I have an old Nova I would mount the 8" jaws on and use the new chuck for normal purposes. May end up buying another Nova which there is nothing wrong with that.
Agree, my other turning friend here locally has a Nova and I think a One-Way or some other name brand plus a barracuda... he hardly ever uses the barracuda - I like the single key on both of his bigger chucks and they are slightly heavier than the Barracudas and seem to run very true - not that mine don't... mostly I like the single key feature... When I drop one of my tommy bars it ALWAYS either rolls under the lathe or goes behind it into the saw dust and I either have to get down on my knees to get under the lathe or spend 15 minutes sorting through a pile of sawdust to find. And I said WHEN and not IF because invariably I will drop one of them.
I think the barracudas are supposed to have stops on the slides, but mine may be worn away from usage.
I am very happy with my Barracudas. Yes, the single key would be easier to use but I consider that a trade-off for the money savings. BTW, I use one of those big magnetic parts trays on the side of my lathe to hold the Tommy bars. Always at hand.
I have the (4 jaw) Barracuda chuck, and it works great for me - but it is the only one I have ever used. I have not been able to open it enough for the jaws to come out, so there must be a stop of some sort.
The Barracuda set I had used a key instead of tommy bars, so it was pretty easy to open and tighten. It just didn't run quite as true as my G3 or Super Nova, though. And sometimes it would kind of bind up a bit. Nothing insurmountable, but not as smooth as I'd have liked.
I suspect for someone who uses a chuck only occasionally, the Barracuda would be great and a good investment. But for someone turning nearly every day like you Dave, I think it'd be money well spent to get another Nova. Plus, any of your existing jaws would fit it. Which Nova chuck(s) do you have?
I have the Super Nova 2's. Good chucks, in my opinion. I don't mind if the chuck I use on the Cole Jaws uses the sticks. I just don't like it coming apart when it reaches it's largest diameter. I want it to stop. I have my 16" jaws on an old stick chuck I bought at Woodcrafter when they were on the west side of Fort Worth. It stops when open all the way. The stick chuck I have on the 8" jaws comes apart. That just irritates the hookies out of me! Whatever the hookies are. I looked the other day at Woodcrafter's website and it seems they don't carry the chuck I have anymore. Oh, well. But, yeah. I will most likely end up buying another Nova. I do use it most everyday, like you said Vaughn.
I'm the proud owner of Vaughn's former Barracuda 2 set. I agree with him that it's not really in the same class as my Oneway Talon chucks, or the Novas that I've only used a little so far. I would probably spring for more of the "better" chucks if I were turning for a living, but the Barracuda 2 is plenty serviceable for an occasional, hobby turner like myself.
Did I ever mention that I turn mostly small stuff? It "turns" out that the chucks I reach for most often are the smaller Barracuda 3s, of which I own 2 sets.