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Lathe chuck guards - how many folk use them?

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Robin Graham30/10/2019 23:01:01
728 forum posts
178 photos

This came to mind after reading some horror stories about woodworking table saws, which seem to me to be more dangerous than metalworking lathes.

First time I turned anywhere near the maximum swing of my lathe I had to take the chuck guard off, and it's never gone back - just a nuisance, obscures vision and generally gets in the way. Is this foolish? I don't feel in danger but there's always the unknown unknown...

Just interested to know how many of you leave them on, and why.


Nigel Graham 230/10/2019 23:26:00
667 forum posts
15 photos

I must admit I don't though I have a small Axminster lathe whose guard operates an electrical interlock.

I have sometimes improvised a guard with a sheet of acrylic (ex-printer cover) and a G-clamp on the Myford lathe; and a piece of plywood lying on the tray keeps the swarf off its inverter-controller. I didn't think when placing that in quick and easy left-hand reach, that it's also in quick and easy swarf reach!


More dangerous perhaps is the clutch lever on the Harrison L5, because that is over the headstock but I am short and tend to stand about half-way along the lathe's length so am reaching near the revolving chuck. I've in mind to move the handle to the tail end, linked to the clutch-shaft lever by a long bar. The inverter & controller are already on a shelf above the tailstock.

At least I have now modified the change-wheel guard. Moving the motor from behind the lathe's cabinet to a wall frame above and slightly behind the headstock, let me set the machine back to the workshop wall, but that meant the guard did not fit thanks to a deep tail that had covered the original belts. I cut that off and the remaining upper part now fits as it should. It was rather flappy, but a small block of wood on the wall cured that.


I have a proper chuck-guard for the Meddings bench-drill but that's more nuisance than help.

Mike Poole31/10/2019 00:05:09
2620 forum posts
63 photos

Haven’t got one but it would soon be removed if I did, the guards on the mill and drill are both in storage. I feel that guards are for the protection of people who do not understand the dangers and how to work safely. Useful guards can be positioned to deal with swarf or coolant that makes using a machine uncomfortable. A lathe chuck guard seems only useful for making sure you have removed the chuck key which so far in 50 years of lathe use I have not done, having said that I am sure to do it tomorrow. For controlling swarf and coolant most are near useless. In professional workshops guards were mainly used to protect people using gangways from extremely hot high velocity chips, the machine operator generally is out of the firing line. When I retired the maintenance workshop machines had just been fitted with guards to protect third parties as many people used the workshop, the machinists were not impressed.


Hopper31/10/2019 02:01:35
4654 forum posts
101 photos

Havent used one in the past 50 years. Probably won't in the next 50. But I don't stand in line with the chuck, a habit soon picked up if you work on large lathes with coolant.

Thor31/10/2019 05:27:25
1236 forum posts
37 photos

My old lathe came without a chuck guard and I haven't had any problems. When I bought a new lathe it came with a chuck guard and I use it, the guard permits the use of the large diameter faceplate without causing any problems.


Bill Pudney31/10/2019 05:52:15
454 forum posts
16 photos

My most used lathe is a Sieg C3. The chuck guard was removed the first time I used the faceplate, but the switch and associated wiring stayed in place until I had the lathe apart, when the switch and wiring were removed and replaced by a wire link on the PCB. I sometimes use a bit of sheet polycarbonate, if the chips are hot and/or dirty.



XD 35131/10/2019 05:53:48
1430 forum posts
1 photos

It was the first thing i removed on my lathe and milling machine and the only thing they stop is you turning on the machine with the chuck key still in the chuck - that is if they are wired into the power supply ! No amount of guarding will replace safe work practices which you should be familiar with before you even plug your machine in . I’m a great believer in the saying “Your safety is YOUR RESPONSIBILITY not the machines !

Simon Collier31/10/2019 06:23:08
355 forum posts
56 photos

Mine is interlocked and a very good left arm rest when filing in the lathe. If it is in the way, I can lift it until it just doesn’t trip, and hold it there with a strap. This gives access to work in collets, etc.. in contrast, the mill chuck guard came off on day one.

Sandgrounder31/10/2019 06:49:08
194 forum posts
6 photos

I've never had one and I doubt if I would use it if I did, but what does scare me is seeing photos of older lathes for sale with no guards over the drive belts and change wheels.I don't really want more than one danger area (the chuck) to concentrate on.

Anthony Knights31/10/2019 08:07:26
406 forum posts
177 photos

My lathe is a Clarke CL300 (Seig C3?). It didn't come with a chuck guard, but I fitted a home made one, This is usually lifted out of the way and only gets used to stop coolant being sprayed everywhere. Then again I rarely use coolant.

Former Member31/10/2019 08:19:30
1329 forum posts

[This posting has been removed]

Stuart Bridger31/10/2019 08:31:28
456 forum posts
26 photos

My Chipmaster came without a guard and it was one of the first jobs I did to fit one. It is a decent fitting one from Nelsa and it doesn't get in the way for 95% of operations. I also use coolant and it does catch the fling off the chuck. My mill is different. The factory supplied one on my Warco VMC was useless, in that it prevented any sensible work and was soon removed. I use a screen on a mag mount where I can.

Willem Kotze31/10/2019 08:39:31
7 forum posts

I am for the chuck guard for our medium size machines. I only occasionally remove it for an increased swing (> 240mm in my case). Slip a suitable dowel into the guard's pivot hole to temporarily close the microswitch interlock. My scars remain longer than the memory of a shortcut gone wrong and which could have been prevented. And I may on occasion entrust the use of the machine to a lesser experienced or safety minded operator.

Emgee31/10/2019 09:00:34
1544 forum posts
219 photos

I am swimming against the current on this topic, I use the guards on lathe and milling machine 75% of the time, not only for personal safety but also chips and swarf are prevented from being sprayed all over the workshop.


Brian G31/10/2019 09:04:58
705 forum posts
28 photos

I always use one, even to the extent of fitting a shallower guard when using a collet chuck. Three reasons:

1) it stops me leaving the chuck key in;

2) open it indicates that it is safe to handle the work;

3) I have a form of intermittent partial or total paralysis which could cause me to fall onto the machine. I don't want to find out how long my face can rest on a rotating chuck before it penetrates my skull.

Whilst conditions like mine are vanishingly rare, I wonder how many here are diabetic, epileptic or at risk of a stroke, tia or a heart attack. Perhaps worth thinking about before casually encouraging anybody to ditch the guards?

Brian G

Nigel McBurney 131/10/2019 10:01:57
717 forum posts
3 photos

I have a swing over chuck guard on my Colchester,its only used when I using the coolant pump to stop the slurry going over my wooden floor ,rest of the time its tied out the way with a bit of string when I am dry turning.A friend whos a bit older than me and like me never saw a chuck guard when we were apprentices came into my wokshop a while ago ,he said what are doing using a chuck guard my reply was, it keeps the slurry on the lathe,if not it goes over the floor and wastes it, when its the bosses slurry it does not matter about the waste as hes paying,when self employed I am paying and so I avoid waste . I have seen close fitting steel guards on lathes ,my opinion is that the gap was rather small and if you got your fingers between the chuck and guard you could loose a finger. Drill chuck guards get in the way and reside in the cupboard,my floor mounted meddings drill has a foot switch built into the pedestal ,as its a large capacity drill ,3mt ,I drill with the vice bolted down when using drills over 1/2 dia. its strange about the difference between a drill and a turret mill,in industrial use,drills ars supposed to be fitted with guards,never seen a turret mill with a guard when drilling or end milling? The horizontal mill was always regarded as being very dangerous and even 60 years ago we were permitted to do the setting up without the cutter guard ,as soon a work started on a batch the rule was the cutter guard MUST be fitted no ifs or buts.On older lathes up to the turn of the 19th century the back gear was exposed and lots of turners lost fingers so from around 1905 back gears had to be guarded,where lathes were driven by multi speed cone pulleys and the flat belt had to be moved to change speed,so belt guarding was not deemed necessary under the factory acts.single speed drives were guarded. The silliest device I came across was on a drilling machine,there was a long adjustable rod like an old car ariel verticaly mounted ,and secured to motor switch at top of the drill so was very close to the drill bit,knock the rod and the drill stopped,ok if the work jumped up the drill the spindle stopped instantly as there was a spindle brake,but it had a major snag,a bit of swarf a couple of inches long would hit the rod and stop the drill,absolutely useless,if you wanted to get on with a job,

IanT31/10/2019 10:09:19
1548 forum posts
144 photos

None of my (old) machines came with guards fitted and I've never felt the need to fit them as such. However, I do use 'chip' guards when working with materials that throw off slivers rather then continuous swarf - as its better than it going all over the place and especially on my arm if I'm feeding manually. Generally I'm stood well to the right of the chuck though.

One thing I have fitted is a flip-down guard on my large 12-speed drill. This can generate some very sharp swarf that is sometimes very hard to see and can whip out unexpectedly and catch the unsuspecting hand. Most people don't seem to have one fitted though.



Samsaranda31/10/2019 10:16:16
940 forum posts
5 photos

On my lathe I have retained the chuck guard the reason being that when I was at tech college, don’t ask how many years ago but the Beatles were in their prime, I left the chuck key in one day and it travelled the full length of the workshop and made an almighty noise when it hit the wall. I still cringe when I think of the verbal lashing that I sustained from the instructor, luckily no one was injured but the thought of the possible consequences then make me glad that I can not start my lathe unless the guard is down and that won’t make the micro switch if the chuck key hasn’t been removed. On my mill I found it nigh on impossible to use it with the factory supplied Perspex guard in place so I removed the Perspex element and left the micro switch permanently made. I place suitable deflectors to cater for flying swarf and keep myself mentally aware for any dangers.
Dave W

mechman4831/10/2019 10:18:56
2691 forum posts
421 photos

I use the guard on my WM250v-f merely to ensure that it is off via the interlock. I have modified it by cutting out the top & front section & replacing with acetate but really all it does is stop me leaving the chuck key in … which I never do in any case… but !.

I have totally removed the guard from my WM16 mill as it as useful as a chocolate fire guard; I have replaced that with a full length acetate guard held on with magnets, much better.

Guard mods #4


Mike Poole31/10/2019 10:36:27
2620 forum posts
63 photos
Posted by Nigel McBurney 1 on 31/10/2019 10:01:57:

. The silliest device I came across was on a drilling machine,there was a long adjustable rod like an old car ariel verticaly mounted ,and secured to motor switch at top of the drill so was very close to the drill bit,knock the rod and the drill stopped,ok if the work jumped up the drill the spindle stopped instantly as there was a spindle brake,but it had a major snag,a bit of swarf a couple of inches long would hit the rod and stop the drill,absolutely useless,if you wanted to get on with a job,

One of these was fitted to the 8ft radial drilling machine in the tool room, it operated a DC injection brake which was near instant in operation. It was a nuisance drilling steel but cast iron was ok. It was mandatory to have the antenna in position and very obvious if you didn’t. A tangle with that machine would not be pretty and death a definite option.


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