Read this if you plan to buy the Axminster pro drive centre and live centre

The good news - both of these centres (the live and the drive) are manufactured to a high standard and hold the work securely.
I watched Callum Way use these during his live turning sessions and was left with the impression that the drive centre would stop if you had a bad catch or applied too much pressure, hence the claim that they are safer than conventional steb drive centres (i.e. a slipping clutch type arrangement).
So I bought both centres and set them up with a piece of scrap wood to have a play - setting the spring tensions etc. I soon realised that the drive centre is no different in operation to a conventional steb centre i.e. if you apply too much pressure with your gouge or have a catch the work stops and the points of the drive ‘grind’ away the wood as your work is stationary. I incorrectly assumed that the drive centre would stop rotating and the point at which it would stop would be determined by the spring pressure - clearly this is not the case. I had wanted to use these centres to practice using my skew without having to worry about catches, with the spring pressure set low. However, the point at which the drive slips is purely determined by how much the tailstock is tightened, just like every other drive centre.
Axminster make the following claims for the pro drivelink to pro drive:

There are numerous advantages when using this drive:
1. Repositioning your work is accurate; the work always goes back in the same place.
This is accurate and with both centres being the same size, it is easy to reverse work if required.
2. They are safe; reduce the pressure from the tailstock and in the event of a dig-in the work will simply stop revolving.
I cannot agree with this. They are no safer than a conventional drive - I cannot see how adjusting the tailstock pressure differentiates them from a conventional centre. Also when the workpiece stops the drive centre becomes a drill!!
3. Reducing the tailstock pressure further allows you to stop the work and inspect it without switching off the lathe.
This is true, but when you re-apply the pressure there is a “buzz” as the drive prongs start to engage and a bit of sawdust is generated. This starts the process of drilling into workpiece.
4. In production, the centre allows unloading and reloading by unwinding the tailstock without stopping the lathe.
I found this a bit uncomfortable - with spindle turning speeds in excess of 1000 rpm - it didn’t feel very safe taking a workpiece on and off - I would always stop the lathe for the sake of a couple of seconds.

So, should you buy this pair of centres? Well, I would say yes, they are well made and look as though they will last for many years, but be aware of their limitations.

The pro drives are just Sorby Steb drives by another name.
The comparisons made are with a 4 prong traditional drive not with a Steb drive as of course… these are Steb drives …
A conventional 4 prong drive will not slip if you have a massive catch . The teeth are hammered in and will not go anywhere.
These drives do slip with the micro teeth losing their grip in the event of a catch. And yes they will then slightly drill a hole.
The spring point is mainly for production / professional turners only as you say. It also has its uses though when centring up an awkward piece The spring point has little to do with how the ‘slip’ feature works.
If you are actually drilling holes with the Evo drive then I think you might need to reconsider how you are turning such pieces as basically that sort of slip should only happen once in a blue moon (NB the smallest drives will drill in more easily than the bigger ones and of course green wood fibres will tend to lose their grip more quickly than seasoned)
I have used these drives for 4 years highly successfully as an active hobby turner and think they are great.
Oh and the micro teeth also allow you to grip an odd shaped piece with only a few teeth in contact if you are not planning on having a catch of course…
I have only replied as I fear someone may get the wrong idea from your posting.
These items do what they say they do and they do it well

HI mpcpba,
My reason for posting was exactly that I did get the wrong idea from the Axminster live turning sales pitch for these centres - these are excellent steb live and drive centres and I recommend people buying them as that. It is the claim that they do more than this that I take exception with. It is implied in the YouTube live streams that these centres will allow you to safely explore the limits of your wood turning tools - particularly skew chisels without having to worry about the consequences of catches - this is clearly untrue. That was the whole point of my post. I have no issue with them as standard steb centres with the added refinement of spring loaded pins. Hope this clarifies my point.

To do what you want to do (learn skew handling without the scary catches) you need to use a pair of centres. The yardstick needs to be a fixed centre and a rotating centre in the tailstock. Administer actually sell this set up as “matched centres” and maybe for accurate work you need these, but for your purpose i would think any pair would work fine. Good luck with the shew.

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Oops corrections for the above post (don’t you just hate auto-correct). For yardstick read headstock and Administer read Axminster

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Hi Paul, i agree - I also suffer from autocorrect embarrassment (just spotted that Colwin had been changed to Callum in my original post)!!.
Wrt the axminster centres - I have used them on 3 or 4 green bowls this week and they are excellent - they give a really positive grip and as you say are matched so if you take them off or reverse work they are easy to replace. The bit about the skew was in relation to a comment by Colwin Way - about it being safe to practice with a skew and not worry about catches with these centres. I think the opposite is true - they give such an excellent and positive grip that for them to slip - the tailstock would have tobe almost disengaged.
Anyway, I’m keeping them as they are far superior to my other centres.

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