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Don't leave the key in the lathe chuck

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Jake2465

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#1
Very first mistake I made when I started running a lathe for the first time. I fired up the lathe and all I heard was something smack the wall about 20 feet away. Come to find out, it was the lathe key. I thought "woah!! if that hit my face I could have been hurt bad" :eek:. Never did that again.
 

Ken from ontario

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#3
Come to find out, it was the lathe key. I thought "woah!! if that hit my face I could have been hurt bad" :eek:.
It even hurts thinking about it. I've seen it happen once a few years ago, didn't hit anyone but you should have seen the operator's face after he realized what had just happened.
 

Cooter Brown

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#4
Yup I've made that awful mistake when I got my first south bend lathe, everyone really should do it at least once that's not a bad thing to absolutely fear doing again.
 

Jake2465

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#5
It even hurts thinking about it. I've seen it happen once a few years ago, didn't hit anyone but you should have seen the operator's face after he realized what had just happened.
I can only imagine. Carelessness has no place in a machine shop.

The next good lesson I learned came about 6 months later when I cut my finger joint real good over not deburing an aluminum edge. I thought that surely it cant be that sharp. After all, it's a 90 deg edge, not like it's a knife or anything... Some days that joint still reminds me of that time.
 

Jake2465

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#6
Yup I've made that awful mistake when I got my first south bend lathe, everyone really should do it at least once that's not a bad thing to absolutely fear doing again.
That's what I did it on, lol. Even a 1hp lathe can get scary real fast :oops:.
 

dave_r_1

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#11
been there done that. my lathe doesn't seem to throw them, just busts off the tip, rendering them useless.
 

jrkorman

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#13
I took metal shop in 9th grade (1971-72) - Our shop teacher taught us to rotate the chuck by hand
at least once before applying power. Still do that now, especially good when something has
sidetracked you.
 

Z2V

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#14
My chuck keys have springs on the end. When I first got them I thought “ what a pain in the butt” and took the springs off. After realizing the accident potential I put the springs back on. I just can’t see slinging a chuck key through the windshield of my car parked in the garage with the lathe.
 

magicniner

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#15
I have chuck keys on Tool Balancers over the lathe which keep them at an ideal height to grab but automatically retract when you let go of the chuck key.
I used a chuck less than 10 times last year though as my lathe has a native ER40 spindle nose which covers 99% of what I do in the lathe.
 

Ray C

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#16
My chuck keys have springs on the end. When I first got them I thought “ what a pain in the butt” and took the springs off. After realizing the accident potential I put the springs back on. I just can’t see slinging a chuck key through the windshield of my car parked in the garage with the lathe.
Consider yourself lucky if you only get a broken window. I don't know of a specific case, but wouldn't be surprised to hear that people have lost their lives making that mistake.

Over the years, I've trained myself to never, ever, ever take my hand off the key until I'm putting the key away in it's designated spot.

Ray C.
 

4GSR

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#17
Don't do what I did when I was 10 years old. I managed to flip the drum switch on with my left hand on dad's 9" South Bend lathe with my right hand on the chuck key tightening down on the work piece. I thought the end of the World came and flashed in front of my face! My right hand was caught between the chuck wrench and the bed of the lathe and the 1/4 HP motor was cycling trying to run until dad came over and turned it off. Probably all happen in less than 5 seconds. My poor hand hurt for two weeks! It didn't break anything, didn't even bleed! But had a bump on the back of my hand for nearly 40 years until my RA hit it and went away. You gain a respect for chuck wrenches and drum switches!

Ken
 

4ssss

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#18
When I was in Trade School, if you got caught leaving the key in the chuck, the Shop Teacher had one mounted on a chain and you wore it around your neck for the week you were there. Now, just about every Craigslist ad I see has the key sticking out the top. Guess they stopped doing that.
 

bluechips

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#19
I happened to be watching a person start spindle on a (large) modern conventional lathe with a forgotten/overlooked 5/8" t-nut in the slot on a face plate. The spindle speed was fairly high. The nut flew from the faceplate hitting him in the shoulder and sat him down on the floor in front of the lathe with a bewildered look of both pain and surprise on his face.
 
Last edited:

aliva

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#20
My lathe came with a chuck cover. The cover must be in the lowered position in order to start the spindle. I have taken it off in order to turn some large items but it goes back on as soon as I'm done. With the cover down you can't leave the key in the chuck
 

Bill Gruby

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#21
I believe one of our members made a holder for the key that would not let you run the machine unless the key were in it. Can't seem to find it now. Anyone else remember this??

"Billy G"
 

Z2V

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#22
I vaguely remember a post along those lines. A good idea and shouldn’t be too hard to do.
 

51cub

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#23
I remember something about it, too. It's a good idea. I only remember leaving a chuck key once, hopefully I learned from it. I can't read things like this too often, though. I'm forever doing things that I know better than to do, but I get sidetracked, lazy, interrupted, forgetful- you get the picture
 

kvt

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#25
I remember it but think it was in a thread someone else had going on something.
 

kvt

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#27
I do not get that mag, but remember it thus either on here or youtube or something.
 

fradish

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#29
The human mind is a weird thing. I NEVER left the key in the chuck until I read a post about people
doing that and then I ended up doing it. Just the once and luckily I didn't turn it on before I removed
the key, but its weird that I never did it until I read that I shouldn't... And I'm not a rebel or anything,
just that it never occurred to me to do it until I read that other people did it...
 

EmilioG

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#30
Twice, I almost left the key in. Both times I looked and removed it. A friend made a lathe chuck key with the spring ejector. You have to hold the key in to use it, if you let go, it ejects. Like some Jacobs chuck keys with the ejector pin.
 
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