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Workshop and Drilling holes with an ER collet chuck

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Rob Wheatley02/05/2021 00:18:16
35 forum posts
12 photos

Hi all.

Sort of a question, do you use your ER collet chuck in the mill to drill holes or do you put a drill chuck in?

Been doing a few bits with the new mill, mainly brackets and motor mounts for the powerfeed and I am finding it easier and quicker to use the ER collet chuck to hold the drill bits rather that change to the drill chuck, one reason is the R8 arbour on the drill chuck is very tight in the spindle, it goes in easy but is a bugger to remove, so much quicker to swap collet (I have all sizes from 1mm to 20mm)

Now is it the done thing the way I do it or is it shunned upon?

Does anyone else seem to spend more time tidying up the workshop than actually working in it?

Granted I'm a messy worker and the inside of the mancave is not finished (insulation and internal panels) so the three 8' benches were put in but I have no real hand tool storage and I have a lot crammed into it (mill, mini lathe, drill press, 10" cabinet saw/router table, blasting cabinet, compressor, dust collector, belt sander, bench grinder, bandsaw, computer with twin monitors, all on the benches/floor standing plus a tig welder, mig welder, small planer thicknesses, mitre saw, morticer,another bandsaw under one bench and shelving under the other 2 with all the power tools under one and hardware under the other.

I do have a small roller tool chest that I need to sort out so my hand tools tend to live on whatever bench or horizontal surface is available!!!

My mancave is 10' x 20' timber construction, I built it about 18 months ago at the end of the garden with 3 feet behind it (10' end) so I'm going to put part of the old shed I have in pieces in the gap on the end to house the dust collector and compressor (both noisy buggers) and a rack to store long materials.

Bill Pudney02/05/2021 03:08:41
563 forum posts
24 photos

I'm sure others more pedantic than I am will say that using an ER chuck rather than a drill chuck is likely to bring on the end of the World. However I do exactly the same. As I spot drill, drill, tapping drill and tap in the mill, chopping to a drill chuck after any previous milling ops. would be a right Royal PITA. I use ER32, with a full metric set and some imperial collets and quite a few "doubles". If the plan is to drill and tap several holes the various tools get slid into the appropriate collet and placed carefully on the bench. It then becomes a simple task to simply remove the "old" cutter, with collet and replace with the next cutter and it's collet.

Go ahead!! Damn the torpedoes!!



ps  For what it's worth I spot drill, drill, tap drill, countersink and tap all in the mill.  The X and Y slides are locked tight.  I cannot remember the last time I broke a tap!!


Edited By Bill Pudney on 02/05/2021 03:13:14

Rob Wheatley02/05/2021 04:59:04
35 forum posts
12 photos

I have been tapping on mine too as it has the tapping function, it was scary at first as they were only M3 but was fine, nice straight threads.

Thor 🇳🇴02/05/2021 06:34:44
1411 forum posts
41 photos

Hi Rob,

I too use my ER chucks for drilling, if I need a hole drilled while milling I just find the right collet. The ER chucks also have less run out than my drill chuck so I use the ER chucks when I need to spot holes more accurately. If I need to drill many holes using different sized drills I use the drill chuck.


JasonB02/05/2021 06:59:27
21435 forum posts
2448 photos
1 articles

If the job is just drilling which your brackets may be then I'll use the drill chuck as quicker than ER and saves having to compress an ER right down to it's limits. But if the part needs a combination of say milling and then holes added I'll leave the collet chuck in place and use that. Really comes down to each individual job, my chucks are easy to change.

DC31k02/05/2021 08:21:56
571 forum posts
1 photos

And a third way, headroom permitting, is to use a drill chuck on a straight arbor and hold that in an ER collet.

This way, you have the quick change facility of the drill chuck without having to change a collet for each bit size and without needing three hands to hold the 5.5mm drill bit in the 6-5mm collet, turn the ER spanner and hold the spindle brake. It is bulky if you use a 1/2" capacity chuck, but for a 3/8" or smaller, it works well.

For lightning quick change, buy a spare ER nut, and collet to suit the drill arbor. Make a shallow groove at the top of the arbor. Assemble nut, collet and arbor and put O-ring on groove. When needed, just unscrew ER nut with its collet and screw on complete drill chuck assembly.

While you are drilling the hole, use the other hand to remove the collet from the ER nut and pre-load the next collet required for the following milling cutter.

Martin Connelly02/05/2021 08:30:34
1888 forum posts
203 photos

I only ever use the ER collets for holding drills in the mill. If I have drills with scored shanks I know that was the drill chuck in the lathe tailstock letting the drill rotate. ER collets hold drills a lot tighter than a drill chuck. The drill chuck is also a lot bulkier than smaller ER collet collet systems such as ER11 (good up to Ø6mm) which can be important with some jobs where tight access is required. I have an ER11 collet holder with a Ø16mm parallel shank which can reach parts other chucks cannot. This can be fitted in an R8 collet or in an R8-ER32 collet chuck depending on the headspace above the workpiece.

If you are going to be drilling stainless steel the extra grip of an ER collet is important as a slipping drill can result in work hardening and nobody wants that halfway through their workpiece.

Also as Jason says changing an ER chuck to a drill chuck and back to ER when making something sometimes takes longer than just using the ER chuck for everything. Yesterday's work had two mirror image parts with profiling (Ø16 milling cutter) followed by drilling (twist drills, Ø8.5 & Ø10.5) then counterboring the drilled holes 7mm deep Ø20 and Ø18 (back to the Ø16 milling cutter) using Mach3's wizard for cutting a circular pocket.

Before anyone asks I did consider using a Ø6 milling cutter for the whole process but reckoned I could do it quicker in stages because I could use a large diameter cutter for the profiling and counterboring for speed, the material was 15mm thick aluminium alloy. The top speed of the mill is 2600 rpm so larger cutter diameters also work better for this material on my mill.

Martin C

DiogenesII02/05/2021 08:49:51
308 forum posts
153 photos

..And.. ..a bit of cross-referencing and canny selection can let one hold certain metric 'part-sizes' in imperial collets (& vice versa) without needing to squash them down to the limit, if they're going to be used frequently..

Why is your chuck so tight - might be worth checking that there isn't a burr or 'ding' on the keyway / key? - if it's been in-and-out a couple of times you might be able to see where it's been rubbing..

Nigel McBurney 102/05/2021 09:19:46
919 forum posts
3 photos

I use er collets,keyless drill chuck with parallell shank and jacops chuck on 3mmt shank in my mill,but do most of my drilling on drilling machines, probably best to keep a new set of drill for use in ER collets then the drill shanks will not get scored as ERs have the best grip. Adviseable not to use old scored drills in collets as it may spoil the collets,or stone off any burrs on rough drill shanks. I have found that a lot of larger commercial countersinks have small 10mm shanks and a Jacobs chuck does not hold them tight and they tend to spin in the chuck,so I use an ER collet with MT shank in my drilling machine. A toolmaker would with the correct facilities would no doubt grind 3 flats on the countersink shank.

not done it yet02/05/2021 09:25:41
6321 forum posts
20 photos

do you use your ER collet chuck in the mill to drill holes

I keep my ER32 in my Raglan mill most of the time. I have four nuts which can usually accommodate most of the collets, with drills and milling cutters, for the job in hand - so I just unscrew the nut and replace with another, with collet and cutter ready for tightening. Mill is knee only, so no power tapping - and often precious little space for a tap guide - and certainly no space to hold a chuck in the ER!🙂

On my lathe I usually have four chucks available - one with small centre drill, one with large centre drill, the usual keyless chuck and one other (just in case it is needed). Those, with a revolving centre, live on a shelf above the lathe. It is easier to remove the MT than keep undoing chucks.

anyone else seem to spend more time tidying up

I probably should but don’t. I spend more time looking for things I’ve just put down!

My mancave is 10' x 20' timber construction,

They are never big enough! Mine started off as a 2.1m x 3.4m insulated section in the end of a 12’ wide sectional concrete garage. It has been extended twice (now over double the original) and likely will be again, shortly.

PS. It’s always better/easier to use a ‘bearing’ type ER nut for milling cutters, so that would double you nut-count, for a start.🙂

Dave S02/05/2021 09:34:55
223 forum posts
47 photos

For my mill I don’t even own a drill chuck. I have ER16 and 32 holders.

Its less faff than changing the Int40 to change an ER of either size, especially as the drawbar is tip

toe high.

Re Tidying up my workshop tends to go through phases of getting worse as I work, followed by a tidy at a good pause point. So it’s never really tidy, except for brief moments


SillyOldDuffer02/05/2021 09:58:13
7549 forum posts
1680 photos

I almost always drill from ER32 collets, and never thought it might be wrong. ER collets are a tool holding system, more accurate than a chuck, and collet grip has to be firmer because the forces on a milling cutter are more severe than those on a twist drill. The big 'no-no' is milling with a drill-chuck. That's asking for trouble, because drill-chucks don't handle sideways forces well.

Grip shouldn't be a problem provided the collet is tightened enough. 'Enough' may be more than expected because the ER spec calls for surprisingly high torque, which I doubt I actually ever reach. Helps to use the type of ER nut fitted with a ball bearing like this example.

On the downside, using collets to hold drills likely means buying more collets than necessary for just milling, where often owning just a few cutter diameters will do. Drilling may require gripping a wider range of diameters and although ER collets collapse up to a millimetre, I prefer not to squeeze them that much. So I have a full set of metric collets supplemented with a few Imperial collets to cover the bigger gaps.

For drilling small holes (<2mm) , I use a straight shank micro-chuck held in a 1/2" ER32 collet,. It's very convenient.

My main reason for switching from ER32 to a drill-chuck is speed. When a job calls for many holes of different diameters to be drilled all at the same time, it's quicker to use a drill-chuck rather than repeatedly change collets. A keyless chuck would be even better for this than my Jacobs, but I've not spent the dosh because there's not enough call for fast drill-changing in my workshop.

That's just me. My advice on this sort of question is to do what suits you best in your workshop!


Re Tidying up.  I'm happy to confess errors of all types apart from one.  My workshop is so untidy I refuse to publish photographs of it.  The images in my Albums are carefully posed to hide the disgrace.   

Couple of exceptions:  I keep machines clean and always do a proper tidy before starting new projects.  Otherwise...  


Edited By SillyOldDuffer on 02/05/2021 10:05:46

Andrew Johnston02/05/2021 10:07:22
6264 forum posts
677 photos
Posted by Rob Wheatley on 02/05/2021 00:18:16: you use your ER collet chuck in the mill to drill holes or do you put a drill chuck in?

I've never used an ER collet for drilling. I use a quick change system on the Bridgeport so I don't need to remove the R8 collet each time I swap tools. I don't use ER collets much anyway. They get used mostly on the CNC mill and then only if I can't do the job using a 6mm and/or 10mm cutter. It's waaaaay quicker to use a drill chuck than ER collets when drilling, particularly when swapping drills within a single job.

The only time have problems with fits in the R8 spindle on the Bridgeport is with import tooling. Often, but not always, it's the fit of the drawbar thread that is the problem rather than fitting the collet itself.


Martin Kyte02/05/2021 11:08:33
2558 forum posts
45 photos

I'd lay odds that all those comments about scored shanks using drill chucks are people who only use one key position. I used to do that but now I tighten all three as a matter of course and never have had a drill slip in the chuck since.

regards Martin

PS ER collets can hold drills when you require it.

Emgee02/05/2021 11:32:01
2156 forum posts
265 photos

For small drills and reamers normally I always use a 1/4" Albrecht chuck held by the arbor in a QC collet chuck, only use a collet mounted drill for sizes bigger than 1/4" or when I need more vertical clearance to the work. It is useful to have a back stop in the chuck to prevent the drill or milling cutter moving back through the collet.


Nigel Graham 202/05/2021 11:58:16
1706 forum posts
20 photos

Martin -

Guilty as charged re using only one key-hole but in my defence, M'lud, I plead that whilst ignorance of the law is no defence I can honestly say that is the first time I have ever heard or read your advice anywhere!

Since my drill-chuck is on an R8 collet and I have no ER collet-chuck holder with an R8 shank I have little choice, but the only problem I have had drilling in the mill is with the limited headroom - and the very stiff quill but that's a separate and incurable problem.

It happens very occasionally that the drill is a match for an R8 collet, but that is very occasional indeed.

I have fitted an Allendale 3-axis DRO to the mill but it's a conventional, not NC, machine so has no tapping facility. Sometimes I use the bench drill, by isolating it, removing the belt and rotating the chuck manually; with a glove or piece of cloth to protect my hand from the sharp teeth.


Tidying up? Tidy and I don't know each other very well and the house isn't much better though I try to keep the important bits clean. There'd be more room on the kitchen work-tops for the gash tools, trays of odd screws and mysterious pieces of metal if it wasn't for all those cookery items. However, I must admit that clearing a heap of swarf and finding a lathe under it, is very satisfying. Old fertiliser-bags from a horticulturist friend, are ideal for taking both workshop and gardening swarf to the Council skips.

Andrew Johnston02/05/2021 12:19:48
6264 forum posts
677 photos
Posted by Nigel Graham 2 on 02/05/2021 11:58:16:

....the first time I have ever heard or read your advice anywhere!

I always use all three holes in the chuck for tightening, for larger drills (>4mm) at least. It's surprising how much the key tightens on holes two and three. However, I am fairly agressive when drilling. The swarf from the 1/2" hole I was drilling in steel yesterday evening measures 20 thou thick.


Roderick Jenkins02/05/2021 12:38:08
2123 forum posts
582 photos

I always drill with the er25 chuck in the mill. Takes up less headroom than a drill chuck and changing the collet is less hassle than extracting a 2mt and drawbar. For really small holes I use one of arc's micro drill adaptors in a half inch collet.


Peter Greene02/05/2021 19:18:56
287 forum posts
2 photos

I have several sizes of drill chuck fitted with 1/2" (parallel) arbors. I just put one of those an ER-25 collet on my mill. If I need more height (occasional) I put the drill straight in the collet.

Rob Wheatley02/05/2021 19:50:18
35 forum posts
12 photos

Thanks for the honest replies.

Well at least I won't get burnt at the stake then using the er collet, I do like the idea of a chuck with a parallel arbour though, the drills I use are ONLY for the mill, brand new set so pristine shanks, going to get another set in 0.1mm increments, then this set 0.5mm can be used in the drill press.

First thing I tried with the R8 drill chuck was the keyway, removed any burrs and looked at it but no signs of it catching, I think it's the top parallel that is ever so slightly to big, might give it a spin in the lathe with some emery.

Glad I'm not the only messy bugger lol, was avoiding pictures out of embarrassment.

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