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New 3 Jaw Chuck

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ChrisH06/12/2020 20:08:57
1005 forum posts
30 photos

This is another "what does the team think" post!

My 3 jaw chuck is quite old and well worn and even with a truly round bar in the chcuk there is an unacceptably high run out. It is 140mm diameter. A very accurate precision P&B chuck is way above my pay scale, but Warco do some very affordable chucks which they claim are "high quality".

So, with that big fat bearded fella with a red coat due to make the rounds very soon, now would be a good time to put a new chuck on the Christmas list!

Two queries:

1. Has anyone any experience of chucks from Warco?

2. My choice would lie between the 130mm diameter or the 160mm diameter, to replace a 140mm diameter chuck. Any reason not to go for the 160 one over the 130 one other than weight?


not done it yet06/12/2020 20:41:43
6438 forum posts
20 photos

Not knowing what you consider as excessive and unacceptable, I would not be bothering to replace it. 3 jaw chucks always (well, nearly always) have run-out but if they still hold the item well enough, they will be okay.

I would be considering buying a 4 jaw independent for the times when concentricity is important.

If you are looking for an excuse to have a new chuck, it might be good to know what machine you intend to fit this new chuck to.

Chris Evans 606/12/2020 21:02:28
1975 forum posts

My Pratt Burnerd 160mm chuck was well worn and new jaws are around £170. If I had replaced the jaws the scroll may have been past it's bet. I bought a Zither (Indian made ? ) chuck from ARC for around £115. It runs truer than any three jaw has a right to. The downside is a very poor notchy feel when winding the chuck key but a few years on all still runs well.

ChrisH06/12/2020 21:43:44
1005 forum posts
30 photos

NDIT - Run-out around 10 thou on a good day, depending on how you tighten it - I try and use the same chuck key hole each time. Around 20 thou run-out on standard "as bought" round bar. I have a 160mm 4 jaw chuck which I use most of the time unless I have the ER32 collet chuck on the lathe.

The lathe is a Weiller LZ 280 which you might not recognise, dates back to the 1960/70's and was a very much German made quality lathe in it's day.

Chris Evan - My 4 jaw chuck came from RDG Tools a few years ago. The Zither 3 jaw chucks seem to be being binned by Arc so not an option, and their Chinese ones only go to 125mm diameter .


Edited By ChrisH on 06/12/2020 21:44:10

Henry Artist06/12/2020 22:02:29
121 forum posts
46 photos

Can you obtain soft jaws for your existing 3-jaw chuck? That might be the least expensive option to obtain concentricity.

I do like the type of soft jaw chuck favoured by Taig Lathes. The 'soft' part of the jaws are aluminium and replaceable.

** LINK **

not done it yet06/12/2020 23:04:32
6438 forum posts
20 photos

If you already manage a 160mm chuck, get another for the capacity. Yes heavy, but you can’t hold big stuff in a too small chuck. I often use a 100mm chuck instead of the usual 160mm simply because it is easier to change in and out.

JohnF06/12/2020 23:35:43
1108 forum posts
183 photos

ChrisH, sounds to me your lathe is well worthy of a new chuck and i can understand your frustration with the existing one. My advice would be buy the best you can afford !My chucks are Burnard, TOS & Bison, plus an Emco 3-jaw which I believe were made by Rhom ?

However at one point I wanted a 4 jaw self centring chuck and purchased a 4 inch HBM from RDG tools, it was pretty good when holding a bar full length of the jaws but if gripped at the front there was a more noticeable runout - not a unusual occurrence. Eventually I purchased a 4 jaw TOS from Rotagrip which was much better, not a massive amount but better and I do like quality tools.

A pal who was on a budget and could not justify spending a larger sum purchased a Sanou chuck, I helped him to fit this and was pleasantly surprised how good it was for the price.

Whilst soft jaws are invaluable in industry and occasional use in the home workshop but I would find them frustrating for everyday use.

Just my thoughts John

Hopper07/12/2020 01:18:27
5505 forum posts
137 photos

I'd have to agree with JohnF above. I have not been impressed with several HBM tools I have bought. EG parting tool holder made of soft cheese metal that bent in the middle like a banana under cutting load forces. Appeared to be made from very soft mild steel with no hardening. So squished out nicely where the toolpost clamping screws seated too. SoI havent bothered to try one of their chucks after that experience.

But I did buy a 3" Sanou lathe chuck off AliExpress that was surprisingly good. It cost all of about $50 (25 quid) delivered. I bought it originally to use on my Versatile Dividing Head but it is so nice a chuck it has taken over as the main chuck I use on my Drummond M-type lathe. Very impressed.

I'd expect the Sanou 160mm to cost about double that from the same source. Still a good deal for 50 quid odd.




Edited By Hopper on 07/12/2020 01:39:49

Speedy Builder507/12/2020 08:34:03
2447 forum posts
195 photos

Ah, why not blow the budget and go for one of these - you can align (or misalign) to your hearts content.

JasonB07/12/2020 08:50:03
21629 forum posts
2493 photos
1 articles

The zither chucks were not binne dby ARC, the supplier simply could not keep up with demand for thes epopular chucks, when the waiting list got to about 18months they stopped taking more orders so ARC and others had to look elsewhere.

The other option is to keep a look out for new old stock, I got a 125mm Bison for £100, mounted straight onto the Worco backplate it runs true enough for me. The one that came with the lathe was actually quite true as well but the scroll started to get a bit notchy, I doubt the ones that come with the lathe are the same as the separate ones sold by Warco.

Henry Brown07/12/2020 08:55:43
482 forum posts
106 photos

I don't know what Warco sell as individual chucks but the 160mm 3 jaw that came with my new lathe back in January is branded Fuerda. It seems fine when I've used it, I don't use it much, and is nicely finished.

Martin Connelly07/12/2020 09:05:13
1932 forum posts
207 photos

I made some soft jaws for my Burnard 150mm chuck. Recut and used them yesterday for a part that needs to run true and needs a good sliding fit on a motor shaft. The latter requirement means removing and replacing in the chuck may be required (I've made a stepped plug gauge already but you never know.. ). A between centres mandrel was considered but as it is an aluminium alloy I was a bit wary of jamming a taper in the bore.


Martin C

PS. I also need to drill and tap the flange face in 6 places so I will clamp the chuck to the mill table as a holding fixture that will not mark the part.

Earlier thread showing these jaws before use

Edited By Martin Connelly on 07/12/2020 09:19:29

SillyOldDuffer07/12/2020 09:55:25
7686 forum posts
1694 photos

All my chucks came from Warco, and they're all fine - certainly better than any worn-out damaged whoever made it!

But there's a logic error in Chris's question, because it assumes tool quality can be linked to a particular importer. Although I've had no problem with Warco gear in general I can't say that all chucks sold by Warco will be good. My chucks were bundled with Warco machine purchases and there's no certainty Warco's off-the-shelf chucks are from the same manufacturer, or the same batch. They might be better!

In the good old days best tactic was to identify a reliable brand and cough up big money. Necessary because there was a big gap between well-made chucks and the others! Consumer protection was weak, communication by letter, and post and packing cost a bomb. Most decent tools were so expensive they had to last a lifetime.

We live in a different world. Manufacturing technique has improved and there are now large numbers of inexpensive mid-range tools on the market. We're also better protected against sharks, and most issues can be resolved quickly. Mid-range tools are mostly 'good enough', certainly inferior to the best, but certainly not rubbish.

Buying expensive industrial tools provides assurance that the item will be to specification, operate without quirks, and stand up to repeated busy workshop beatings. Their disadvantage is high cost, which I feel is unjustified for light amateur or even semi-professional purposes. (Unjustified in the sense there's no point in wasting good money on tools that don't pay for themselves. Buying expensive tools because they make you feel good is valid, but recognise it's done to meet emotional rather than engineering requirements! )

The risks associated with buying tools has changed. Buying from a reputable supplier like Warco means they will replace or refund in the event a faulty tool arrives on your doorstep. Because inspection is minimised to keep costs down, there's always a risk a dud will arrive. Otherwise, don't expect tool-room quality, but the chucks should be OK for hobby purposes, maybe lasting years rather than decades, and feeling gritty rather than smooth. And they are cheap enough to replace when worn or damaged.

An example may help. Consider teaspoons. Should you buy:

  • Designer hall-marked silver (suitable for state occasions)
  • Robust EPNS or stainless (suitable for restaurants with an industrial dishwasher)
  • Flimsy stainless (domestic, but spoons bend digging out ice-cream)
  • Thin stainless with plastic handle (cheap domestic - don't care if they get lost or broken)
  • Plastic disposable. (take-away, camping trips, etc)

In the case of teaspoons, advice to buy the best you can afford is almost certainly wrong! Better to understand what the item is for, how long it has to last, what happens if the order goes sour, and the budget! The purchase is on solid ground if honestly answering the questions tells you to buy the best, otherwise save the money. There's always something else to spend it on.


Spurry07/12/2020 10:44:47
213 forum posts
71 photos

Don't underestimate the weight of the larger chuck, especially if you change chucks around often. The smaller versions make the process more enjoyable.


Hopper07/12/2020 11:12:59
5505 forum posts
137 photos
Posted by Spurry on 07/12/2020 10:44:47:

Don't underestimate the weight of the larger chuck, especially if you change chucks around often. The smaller versions make the process more enjoyable.


Indeed. The 5" (125mm) is a pretty handy compromise I find.

ChrisH07/12/2020 11:14:40
1005 forum posts
30 photos

JohnF - would love one of the Pratt Burnerd/TOS/Bison chucks but they are way too expensive. For the amount of use I put a 3 jaw to these days no way could I justify the expenditure to myself, never mind her indoors. All the rotogrip chucks seemed an arm and a leg and then some. The 4 Jaw from RDG I bought is a HBM chuck, I've had no issues with it and love using it, but then the 4 jaw independent is not a self-centering scroll chuck - maybe the scroll ones are less 'forgiving'!

Jason - hadn't realised Zither couldn't keep up so Arc had to go elsewhere - apologies to Arc for the misunderstanding!. I did look there first before Warco.

SOD - sorry but no logic error in my question. The Warco site lists chucks. They say they are of high quality. I just wondered if anyone had any experience one way or t'other that could confirm or contest their statement, being very aware that quality in a batch can be a variable. If everyone said yes they are great, then great no worries. If a variety of opinions good and bad came back then there is cause to doubt and to be aware if buying.

Re making or buying soft jaws. Whilst I would love them I have no idea of where I might get some to match my chuck, not even knowing what make my chuck is, and making them would be a tricky machining job I'm sure to match the scroll - I know Harold Hall describes the process but even so, look a tricky animal to me, machining scrolls.

Having said that and just now looked at Martins self made version via the link he posted, that looks quite doable, like the idea of hardened dowels in place of the scroll, might think more seriously about doing that - thanks Martin.


ega07/12/2020 11:28:22
2323 forum posts
190 photos
Posted by Martin Connelly on 07/12/2020 09:05:13:

Earlier thread showing these jaws before use

I missed this elegant example of lateral thinking first time round and don't recall the short article requested by Neil ever appearing. Now might be a good time for it!

Hopper07/12/2020 11:32:35
5505 forum posts
137 photos

As Clive says scroll to chuck jaw contact is a single point. Since this is the case I knocked up a spare set of soft jaws for one of my chucks using case hardened dowels. They are for thin parts often in aluminium alloy or brass so don't need great force to hold for turning. The jaws are reversible as well.

Martin C


From the other thread. Pic says it all. Brilliant!! I gotta make me some.

Edited By Hopper on 07/12/2020 11:34:08

Nigel McBurney 107/12/2020 11:42:52
945 forum posts
3 photos

If a tos or bison chuck is too expensive,why not look around for a good used Burnerd,or European make perhaps old stock or shop soiled stock, early this year I needed a new or good 10 inch 4 jaw for my Colchester, found a Bison 4 jaw covered in dirty grease and in wooden crate took a chance and bought it ,cleaned off it had never been used and was a third of new price. But do not buy unseen.

Dave Wootton07/12/2020 13:09:53
208 forum posts
51 photos


There's a brand new 125mm burnerd 3 jaw for sale over on the Homeworkshop site for £200, still in it's packing, you have to scroll down the pages a bit.

I've bought things from the seller before and was very pleased with both the items and packaging ect. thought it might be of interest.


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