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Collets 5c vs. ER vs. MT3 vs. Drill Chuck etc ??

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stioc

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#1
I've been thinking of getting a set of collets for work holding in a lathe but the choices are so many I can't decide. Of course, the idea being that I find what works best for a general purpose home shop with the least amount of investment and clutter. I like simple (In-n-Out burger menu style lol). Here're my random thoughts, please feel free to correct/add etc:

5c - I keep thinking this has been the defacto standard so just buy this and be done with it. They have collet blocks, lathe chucks and most spindexers etc readily accept 5c. The chuck is the most expensive part but again buy once cry once sorta thing. On the flip side, the chuck sticks out quite a bit more than the ER chucks and the workholding supposedly isn't as strong nor tolerant to small variances in the stock diameter compared to the ER chucks.

ER - I use ER20 on my mill but I'll likely have to step up to ER40 to get in the bigger range. Fairly inexpensive, I can get a MT3 chuck that will fit my lathe's spindle bore. On the negative side I hear you can't hold stock with very small length as they like to grip a longer length. Also they won't fit in a spindexer (not that I've used mine yet but I like future protection/versatility). Lastly collet blocks while I've seen them are not as widely available either.

MT3 collets - another option here for my lathe's spindle bore but again if I trade up to a bigger lathe some day the MT3 might not be the correct spindle bore size. I can actually just buy one say 3/4" and that will hold my ER20 collet holders which I can use for anything from 1/2" and under. A total of $15 investment lol

Drill chuck - MT3 drill chuck is what I've used with decent success but may be I've just been lucky in that I haven't run into issues...mainly people say chucks are not designed for radial loads.

Other options - I was thinking I could just get the 5c collet blocks and 5c collets and use the three jaw chuck to hold the blocks, sure not very quick if your'e removing parts on and off but it could work without needing a 5c specific chuck.

Thoughts, suggestions?
 

T Bredehoft

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#2
Depending on your needs, the most universal solution is a run-of-the-mill three jaw chuck. If you are into production work, A 5C collet chuck is the answer. MT3 is pretty limited to what you can get, the ER40 will suffice for short run production, these collets are more forgiving (will clamp down one mm, .040, so you don't need as many as you would of the 5C variety which are only good for .010 or so, but they (ER40) take a wrench to open whereas the 5C collet chuck has a rubber handle around it mounted on the chuck.
 

stioc

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#3
Thanks Tom! no production work here but all the cool kids on YTube have them lol
 

MrWhoopee

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#4
My preference is 5c, for the reasons you've listed. You don't state what lathe you have, but if a thru the spindle drawbar is an option, as opposed to a spindle nose collet chuck , that's how I'd go. It's not necessary to get the full range of collets in 64ths, or even 32nds. Start with 1/16" increments up to 1/2" and 1/8" increments above that. This will cover 99% of what you will ever need. Get a lever actuator if you can, otherwise a handwheel. I use my collets more than anything else.
 

Nogoingback

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#5
I've been thinking about collets for my lathe recently as well, as an alternative to the chucks I already own. I've decided on getting an ER32
setup mounted to a backing plate. This makes it possible to run longer stock through the spindle bore unlike the MT3 setup you mentioned.
As Tom said, ER's handle a range of diameters better, which means fewer collets and lower cost. They also are available as metric
as well, if that matters. I've also considered at some point adding a small milling attachment to my lathe: because ER's are designed for
tool holding, they would work for holding mills.

Something like this:

profibohrer_er32_spannzangendrehfutter_80_mm_p1.jpg

You mentioned drill chucks. My Logan has a Jacobs 59B drill chuck that handles stock up to 3/4' in diameter. It's really pretty usefull
for small quick jobs like spacers or pins, but since the TIR isn't very good, you can't turn a part around and have it run true. It's also nice
to work around since it's smaller than a 3 jaw. Not an alternative to collets at all however. I use it like a 3 jaw for some jobs, and use
my 4 jaw for everything else.


DSCF7365.jpg
 

ttabbal

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#6
For the lathe, I use a ER40 "zero-set" chuck from Shars with their D1-4 adapter to match my spindle. It has 4 screws you use to adjust the runout, so you can really dial it in.

On the lathe, it works great as I still have the full through-bore to work with. I'm thinking of trying their R8-ER40 adapter for the mill at some point.
 

stioc

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#7
Thanks for all the input guys. Yeah for quick small jobs e.g. trimming the head off of a bolt using the toolpost grinder the drill chuck has worked well enough that I thought about getting a straight shank drill chuck that I can grab in the 3 jaw chuck since it's what I use 99% of the time.

ER chucks are a definite consideration but I keep going back to the silly spindexer and collet blocks which have their places in a machine shop.

FYI my lathe is a 9x20, the spindle is a through bore.
 

Nogoingback

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#8
For the lathe, I use a ER40 "zero-set" chuck from Shars with their D1-4 adapter to match my spindle. It has 4 screws you use to adjust the runout, so you can really dial it in.

On the lathe, it works great as I still have the full through-bore to work with. I'm thinking of trying their R8-ER40 adapter for the mill at some point.

Don't want to hijack this thread, but ttabbal, how do you like the quality of the Shars parts? I've been thinking about the same setup
for mine.
 

stioc

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#9
^ don't worry about hijacking, as long as we're discussing the collet chucks I'm interested in the details too.
 

Nogoingback

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Thanks for all the input guys. Yeah for quick small jobs e.g. trimming the head off of a bolt using the toolpost grinder the drill chuck has worked well enough that I thought about getting a straight shank drill chuck that I can grab in the 3 jaw chuck since it's what I use 99% of the time.

ER chucks are a definite consideration but I keep going back to the silly spindexer and collet blocks which have their places in a machine shop.

FYI my lathe is a 9x20, the spindle is a through bore.
No reason why you couldn't put a collet chuck on your lathe, and use the same collets in a block for other jobs.
 

ttabbal

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#11
Don't want to hijack this thread, but ttabbal, how do you like the quality of the Shars parts? I've been thinking about the same setup
for mine.
I've been very happy with the chuck and adapter. You do need to machine the adapter a bit, but it's just to open some space to give you room to adjust and true it up to match your spindle. There were some chips in the threads for the clamping nut, but nothing major. The taper is well machined and accurate, and the threads were easy to clean. I get under 5 tenths runout, and and probably do better now that I have a 1 tenths DTI. Setting it up is just like dialing in a part in a 4 jaw.

Don't sweat the other collet uses, blocks are available for ER, and I bet spindexers and such are available. Even if not, you can hold a collet block in a chuck on a spindexer. Nothing against 5C or other types. I chose ER40 as I like the clamping range and had some good reviews from users here. I spent a little more on Techniks collets as I figured I might use them for tool holding in a future mill and wanted a known good brand that was still reasonably priced. The cheaper ones on ebay and such have been reviewed on various youtube channels and they have been pretty bad. The only cheaper ones I hear good things about are from TPAC Tools.
 

pacifica

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#12
I like the 5c as a system -lathe to spin index (mill usage).
I use dimensioned rod so can get by with a dozen collets.
Good quality(hardinge, royal, etc) collets have a range of +- .007 and dont become sprung.
Also very fast and accurate.Lots of availability.
 

Bob Korves

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#13
On a lathe, if you are using a 5C collets for making parts from standard imperial sizes of round, square, and hex stock, and for possibly also holding imperial sized tooling shanks, they will work fine. However, they will not hold partially machined work that is not to standard sizes, within a few thou. Collet blocks and spindexers use them. They will not work on your mill at all.

ER collets will hold sizes within a 1 mm (.040") range, though they are most accurate and hold work best at the nominal size that just slips into the collet. Squishing down ER collets too much works, but damages the collets, and does not hold as well. ER collets will work on both your lathe and your mill (with separate adapters), and in ER collet blocks.

For use on a lathe, I would not even consider MT collets or any other type that does not let the stock go through the spindle bore. Having a through spindle setup makes use of the stock more efficient with much less waste, and also speeds up the work flow on repetitive parts.

Like most choices in machining, it depends on what you will be making well down the road, which is not always easy to know in advance.
 

Tozguy

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#14
Of course, the idea being that I find what works best for a general purpose home shop with the least amount of investment and clutter.
For my 12x36 lathe, I opted for an ER32 collet chuck with a D1-4 mount in order to hold long work through the spindle. But holding a ER collet chuck in a four jaw always seemed like a good idea too.

Any work larger than 1/2'' diameter goes in the 4 jaw independent chuck. I picked up a few MT3 collets and R8 collets just to try when the work is short enough but most collet work is done with the ER set.
 

Aaron_W

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#15
I recently went through the same thing due to wanting some collet blocks.

I was somewhat surprised at the actual size of 5C collets. Obviously a collet that can hold 1" stock is going to have to be fairly large, but it just hadn't registered to me until I saw them in person. Regardless of size material held the individual collets are probably 1-1/4 x 4" or not much smaller than my ER32 chuck, and considerably larger than the individual collets for it.

Compare that to ER collets where you can buy ER8 to ER50 collets. You could get a few, maybe ER20 for the small sizes, ER32 in the middle and ER40 or 50 for the larger sizes. Of course additional collet chucks needed, but there is no need to buy complete sets for each just those larger than the size below. Doing this the collets are more closely scaled to the work.


With a 9x19 lathe you don't have a lot more room than me, and you won't be able to take full advantage of the larger pass through of the 5C collets.

5C collets do have some advantages and I'm still thinking about getting a set in the future, but I don't think the smaller lathes really take advantage of them.


There are ER to 5C adaptors allowing you to use ER collets in accessories made for 5C collets. I was also able to find ER32 collet blocks which is what I was really after.
 
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stioc

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#16
I guess I should mention that I hope to buy a bigger lathe (12x or may be even a 13x) a few years down the road and would prefer not to reinvest in the tooling as much as I can help it. Having said that I'm starting to sway a bit more towards the ER40s now. Are the square and hex collet blocks readily available for the ER40?
 

mikey

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#17
I have 5C, ER chuck/collets and MT collets for the lathe and most are duplicated for the mill. Got 5C and ER-40 collet blocks, too. I like and use them all when appropriate. However, I know for a fact that you can easily get by with just a 3 jaw and independent 4 jaw chuck and not lose sleep over it for lathe work.

The reality is that a properly functioning 3 jaw is fine for almost any first operation work and a 4 jaw independent is fine for first or second operation work. Collet chucks are useful when you need to hold a threaded or finely finished part for a second operation. Collet chucks are also good when your reason for buying it is because you want what the cool guys have. Just realize that most hobby guys can get along just fine without them for most lathe work.

On the other hand, sometimes stuff like collet chucks weighs on the mind. You overlook the fact that you can easily live without it but you want it all the same. In that case, I would go for an ER-40 set up, for all the reasons that the other guys have given you.
 

ttabbal

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#18
Holding threaded or otherwise machined stuff without worrying about messing it up is really nice. You can avoid the need 90% of the time or more if you plan order of operations properly though. I also want to do some work with gravers later, which is much safer with a collet system. I had originally meant to also use them to hold end mills for a lathe attachment, then I went and bought a Bridgeport, so that's less of an issue now..

So while I likely don't NEED them, I do find them useful enough that any given project that will fit tends to live in them.
 

stioc

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#19
Mikey, you're spot on! the whole collet thing has been weighing on my mind and may be I don't need them as much as I think I do. In my mind I think that I'll be turning nominal dia bar stock and I can get away without needing to indicate them if I use the collets but I'm often working with much bigger diameters that collets can hold...if I don't count the bolts and stuff. I also look at my spindexer that I've never used because I don't know how to mount stuff to it other than using 5c collets so I get tempted but then I come full circle to 'I don't really need them, I just want them' lol
 

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#20
You do not appear to understand why collet systems were developed.

First came simple work holding, as technology progressed scroll chucks were employed and there was a vast improvement in the number of parts an operator could make in a given day. One may imagine the glee of the first company that used them, "they may clamp and unclamp the parts with the turn of one key and now make 50 parts per day instead of five".

The next improvement was collet systems, place part in collet and pull the lever and the part is clamped without the need of screwing around with a scroll chuck key, "they are now making 300 parts per day". The material manufacturers then had to produce stock with accurate enough diameters and finishes to work well in these machines, also collets allow for automatic bar feeding.

I fail to see why a hobbyist would invest in a collet system to make, as you say, one part at a time. I do fully understand the quest for ultimate accuracy that many desire, however if only producing several parts without a time constraint an adjustable chuck will do everything that you require and more. It is entirely possible that the people that recommend using only a collet chuck believe that this is the only way because that is what manufacturers use.
 

mikey

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#21
Oh, trust me; I understand wanting stuff. My shop is full of stuff that I wanted. I just "wanted" to make sure you were clear on the difference between want and need. Watch and see. You'll buy a collet chuck and use it for awhile, but over the years you will find a 3 jaw on the lathe the vast majority of the time. :rolleyes:

I do agree with @ttabbal that a collet chuck is optimal for graver work; getting whapped on the knuckles with a lathe chuck jaw is not fun. I have used gravers with a jawed chuck many, many times but you can bet my sphincter tone is at maximum the entire time I'm working.
 

mikey

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I fail to see why a hobbyist would invest in a collet system to make, as you say, one part at a time. I do fully understand the quest for ultimate accuracy that many desire, however if only producing several parts without a time constraint an adjustable chuck will do everything that you require and more. It is entirely possible that the people that recommend using only a collet chuck believe that this is the only way because that is what manufacturers use.
Well said!
 

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Bob Korves

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#24
Also some machines use push collets, Warner and Swasey for example.

There could be lenghty debate about which is better, push it into the taper or pull it into the taper, are collet pads acceptable?
Was W&S wrong?
Push collets are often used in production machines. They way in which they work locates the work axially much more accurately than pull type collets do. That is important when making accurate parts as fast as possible from bar stock in a production environment. They would make life easier in a hobby shop as well, but are not often seen except on turret lathes and other production machines, where they are fairly common.
 

Tozguy

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#25
My 8'' four jaw independant chuck simply does not close to less than 3/8''. My 6'' scroll chuck holds smaller but lacks precision.

On the question of need versus want collets, it is clear that I don't need collets or even need a lathe. For me, a hobby is not an investment nor a question of livelihood. The money I spend on my hobbies is based strictly on entertainment value. It was very entertaining to make a D1-4 to ER32 chuck but have since not used it much.
 

P. Waller

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My 8'' four jaw independant chuck simply does not close to less than 3/8''. My 6'' scroll chuck holds smaller but lacks precision.

On the question of need versus want collets, it is clear that I don't need collets or even need a lathe. For me, a hobby is not an investment nor a question of livelihood. The money I spend on my hobbies is based strictly on entertainment value. It was very entertaining to make a D1-4 to ER32 chuck but have since not used it much.
I also do not like to run small parts in a large chuck, a small chuck held in the large one is an option for this sort of work including a collet chuck as seen here. Such a setup has many of the benefits of a collet system yet retains the versatility of a scroll or independent chuck for the one off type of work done at home or in a job shop. This one is also pass thu allowing long bars to be inserted from the back and is dead length because the collet does not move.
 

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BGHansen

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#27
I use 5C collets on my lathes for the reasons mentioned above. Have an ER-32 collet chuck on my Bridgeport for easy tool changes. Have R8's on a Jet mill. My 5C's are from CDCO. Have a set from 1/16" to 1 1/8" by 54's and a second set by 32's. I haven't used them all, but haven't had any run-out issues with the ones I've checked. One lathe has a 5C collet chuck, the other a lever-style draw tube. The collets are is rows of 8 columns on the 64th set so the common sizes are all in a couple of rows. If the stock is an odd ball size, just start trying to slip into a collet until I find the best fit.

Bruce
 

chips&more

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#28
I would get a GOOD 3 jaw chuck. And it MUST have the set-tru feature. Only on blue moon days do I use a collet on my bigger lathe and then it would be 5C. My watchmaker lathes, different story, mostly collets. And that would be 8mm, 10mm and 3c…Dave
 

T Bredehoft

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#29
I have a product made from 3/8 OD, 5/16 ID 6061 Aluminum tubing, I chase 3/8 24 threads on one end. I found (to my dismay) that the three jaw chuck left jaw marks on them. That's when I began to use my ER40 chuck. No jaw marks, now.
In all honesty I chase them about 3/4 depth and finish them with a die. A plastic cap screws on the end eventually.
 

Jimsehr

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#30
Most home shops don’t use ID collets. But as about 80 percent of machinied parts have holes in them it is a great way to hold second operations to finish them. There are 5c type ID collets that go up to 6 inch dia . I sometime machine a collet to fit a part where I only make one or two parts at a time . Then I put that collet aside for the next time I run that part again. Sometimes it is a year or two between runs. But the cost of a collet is cheap for tooling.
Jimsehr
 
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