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Tailstock cuck, keyless or not?

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King Olaf05/01/2022 12:21:36
1 forum posts

I need to buy a tailstock chuck for my Warco 180.

I'm tempted to get a keyless one (from Warco), but wanted to ask if there are other downsides to it than not being able to run it in reverse?

The pros are that keyless ones are apparently more precise?

I'm new to this hobby so pardon my ignorance. I did search the forum as I feel this would be a common question, but couldn't find the answer.

Mike Poole05/01/2022 15:14:31
3305 forum posts
73 photos

A keyless tends to release if you use it for tapping when you reverse, for drilling no problem but they tend to be slightly longer than a keyed chuck.


Tony Pratt 105/01/2022 15:25:22
1929 forum posts
12 photos

''The pros are that keyless ones are apparently more precise?'' Thats a new one on me after nearly 50 years in machining, it's BS, the product quality will come from how well the item is made. Having said that a lot of the previously well known brands are not what they used to be. Warco state for their keyless chucks 'Highly accurate, precision chucks.', that means nothing in my book?


Edited By Tony Pratt 1 on 05/01/2022 15:26:46

Edited By Tony Pratt 1 on 05/01/2022 15:30:02

clogs05/01/2022 15:48:11
626 forum posts
12 photos

I will alway use decent Jacobs keyed lathes and mills..

never had any luck with keyless.....

but I do have one of my bench drills with a keyless chuck....

but all the drill bits used in it I have milled 3 flats on the no probs with turning bits....

this machine is just used for rough drilling ......I make a lot of dog kennals and most of the frames are bolted holes for 8mm bolts....

Vic05/01/2022 15:53:53
3060 forum posts
8 photos

I’ve got all keyless chucks for my lathe and mill. I haven’t experienced any problems but that doesn’t mean it will be the same for other users. I find keyed (on my bench drill) less convenient, especially when you can’t find the key! laugh

David Ambrose05/01/2022 16:07:29
24 forum posts
3 photos

The keyless chucks I have had from ARC have been very good. Make sure that your taper has a tang, fixed or removable, or you may get it stuck in the tailstock. I find a keyless chuck more difficult to use in a vertical drill, as you really need three hands: one to hold the bit, and two to operate the chuck.

mgnbuk05/01/2022 16:13:30
1176 forum posts
71 photos

Keyed for preference for me - but my hands are knackered & I struggle with most keyless chucks, as I can't adequately grip them. Some keyless types are also quite a bit longer than keyed versions, which may be an issue on a small machine.

The manual lathe & mill at work have Roehm keyless chucks, which seem to grip the drills better with less effort than the cheaper types I have at home, but I sometimes have to use a strap wrench to loosen them after colleagues have used them before me.

I solved the "can never find the chuck key" issue with some 3D printed, wall mounted, 2MT toolholders from Thingiverse that live on the wall behind the lathe & conveniently have a hole for a chuck key incorporated. Previously used to pop the key into the chuck jaws & hand tighten after use, though both methods still require a bit of discipline. The pillar drill chuck key is attached to the drill on a length of flexible wire.

Nigel B

JasonB05/01/2022 16:15:45
22574 forum posts
2634 photos
1 articles

I also use keyless in the mills and lathe and they all seem to hold alright even when power tapping at several 100 rpm they switch straight to reverse and stay done up. All mine are ARC ones now as I bought a couple more to replace the cheaper ones I had

I also use keyless on the cordless drills for the day job driling and also doing up and undoing screws and can happily go through a few boxes in a day at times again no problem and they even hold OK when used on hammer. These are all metal chucks not the plastic ones you find on cheaper hobby cordless drills

Emgee05/01/2022 16:21:04
2404 forum posts
285 photos
Posted by David Ambrose on 05/01/2022 16:07:29:

The keyless chucks I have had from ARC have been very good. Make sure that your taper has a tang, fixed or removable, or you may get it stuck in the tailstock. I find a keyless chuck more difficult to use in a vertical drill, as you really need three hands: one to hold the bit, and two to operate the chuck.

I use 1 hand to hold the drill and pinch up the keyless chuck to the drill jaws, with the other hand then yes 2 hands are used to further check the chuck for tightness.

If you have to use 2 hands to adjust the chuck when it is not closed to the drill shank I believe there is a problem with the chuck, try some spray lubricant and work it open and closed for a few minutes, you may be surprised how much rubbish comes out.


SillyOldDuffer05/01/2022 16:21:51
8487 forum posts
1890 photos

I vote for Keyless, they're quicker and mine grips better than a Jacobs of the same size. The big advantage is not having to find the key, because the pesky things go walkabout! Chances are the only key I can find is the wrong size...


Edited By SillyOldDuffer on 05/01/2022 16:22:54

Andy Stopford05/01/2022 19:42:13
155 forum posts
17 photos

Be warned, the 10mm keyless from ARC takes up about 90mm from the end of the tailstock barrel - that's quite a lot to lose from a 300mm between centres lathe!

They are very good though, and need remarkably little force to tighten. I've been tempted to take it apart to see how it works, but somehow I suspect it might be tricky to put back together again.

As Jason says, the metal ones on cordless drills are very reliable and seem to last the life of the drill. In fact all cordless tools have improved tremendously. The only mains tools I use at work now are a mitre saw and hot glue gun.

Richard Millington05/01/2022 20:45:58
61 forum posts
4 photos

I have keyless in the lathe (a cheap one), never had a problem with it.

Have a keyed Jacobs in the mill just for the reduced height never had a problem with it.

On my second keyless for the Makita battery drill - chuck slips again!

Pete.05/01/2022 21:38:34
796 forum posts
235 photos

On cordless drill keyless chucks a little feature some are not aware of, if it's a ratcheting type, you tighten it up then back it off one click, this stops it coming loose.

John Reese08/01/2022 22:15:49
1035 forum posts

If you ever intend to use a hole saw the keyed chuck is best. A keyless will over tighten and lock up.

Chris Mate09/01/2022 06:53:28
136 forum posts
32 photos

I have two keyless chucks from different manufacturers.

I think the one in the lathe is the better one which I bought from a company that sells better tools than the normal chinese stuff....Did not had problems with this one up to 20mm holes. Never had to take it off to release.

The other one is in my larger drill press(Black colour) If I drill larger holes like 20mm it really pulls tight. I have to remove it clamp in a vice and use the spanner with it to losen the chuck.

You should get a spanner matching the chuck with it.

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