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Inexpensive Chucks

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Joseph Ramon04/02/2013 14:22:56
107 forum posts

I was thinking of buying a relatively inexpensive 4-jaw SC chuck. There are lots of brands and origins. I don' want to start another pointless argument bewteen East and West but could anyone place the following in an approximate order of 'value for money'?

SOBA, TOS, Zither, SEIG,Sharp, Chester, Amadeal

I'm intrigued that Arc's Indian chucks are more costly than their chinese ones. I thought Chinese was generally better quality?

Are there any common brands I have missed?


KWIL04/02/2013 15:54:37
3309 forum posts
63 photos

TOS every time.

colin hawes04/02/2013 16:10:21
515 forum posts
18 photos

I have a self centering 3 jaw bearing the TOS trademark. Its more than 6 years old, been well used and is still very accurate. Colin

michael m04/02/2013 16:12:13
60 forum posts
3 photos

I can't speak for the SC variety but some two years ago I bought a Zither independent 4-jaw from Arc. I initially bought a Chinese one but felt it to be a bit indifferent and subsequently returned that and bought the Indian one. This has afforded every satisfaction, and I would happily recommend it. Contemporary wisdom seems to be that Indian equipment is by definition worse than Chinese but as you say the Zither is more expensive and we all know that you tend to get what you pay for. I understand that the company is a large and reputable organisation, not some back street set up. As has been previously discussed a lot is dependent on the importer/retailer. In the last week of January I heard, whilst driving, some snatches of a progamme on BBC Radio 4. A British entrepeneur who deals extensively with China was being interviewed and stated that he found the Chinese were very reasonable to deal with. When questioned about quality issues he replied "You get what you ask for"

You may also consider Vertex. (Taiwanese) Their equipment does have a good reputaton and I've been very pleased with their stuff. Various dealers, including Rotagrip in Birmingham sell them. This latter company I've dealt with for many years and again would happily recommend.


Brian Wood04/02/2013 16:18:11
2272 forum posts
37 photos

Hello Joseph,

It depends on how quickly you want to lay hands on it. I found a barely used Pratt 6 inch 4J self closing chuck, with both sets of jaws and chuck wrench, at Harrogate 3 years ago for less than you would pay for any you listed.

OK I had to refit the back plate when I got it home, it had been badly done, but Oh what a joy! Run out within 2 thou at 4 inches out from the jaws, British made and damned good.

It might pay you to be patent and haggle at the trade stalls.

Good hunting


Donald Wittmann04/02/2013 18:38:58
40 forum posts

Joseph, TOS are the only half decent brand in your list so would be the best option.

as Brian said in an earlier reply try to get a second hand Pratt Burnerd or a Bison Bail, both are vastly superior to any on your list.


Ketan Swali05/02/2013 16:17:02
1303 forum posts
105 photos
Posted by Joseph Ramon on 04/02/2013 14:22:56:

I was thinking of buying a relatively inexpensive 4-jaw SC chuck. There are lots of brands and origins. I don' want to start another pointless argument bewteen East and West but could anyone place the following in an approximate order of 'value for money'?

SOBA, TOS, Zither, SEIG,Sharp, Chester, Amadeal

I'm intrigued that Arc's Indian chucks are more costly than their chinese ones. I thought Chinese was generally better quality?

Are there any common brands I have missed?



Zither and Sharp - both Indian - will be similar in quality, equal to TOS, in my personal opinion, and based on response I have from skilled users. Although SOBA is Indian, it is similar to HBM Indian/Chinese, both of which are generally not used in the Indian market, where industrial users require heavier duty chucks. We deliberately market the 'Zither' brand, to keep them separate from other Indian or Chinese brands. In general, I regard Zither chucks to be a better quality chuck than the Chinese origin chucks. Having said this, the Chinese origin chucks are suitable for general use.

Ketan at ARC.

Jens Eirik Skogstad05/02/2013 19:46:41
395 forum posts
22 photos

I has both chinese chuck Sieg and Burnerd chuck, not much very comparable. If you need precise centered workpiece, use 4 jaws chuck + dial gauge in case large than the collets can hold the workpiece for precision work.

Deltic00705/02/2013 22:28:12
131 forum posts
12 photos


MY 3 jaw is spot on

Roderick Jenkins05/02/2013 22:48:56
1953 forum posts
503 photos
Posted by alan smith 6 on 05/02/2013 21:26:56:

Second hand Burnerd every time, or buy a new one from Rotagrip in Brum.

TOS or Bison?

Jens Eirik Skogstad06/02/2013 05:19:23
395 forum posts
22 photos

Alan, Pratt Burnerd chucks is still in production **LINK**

Roderick Jenkins06/02/2013 08:48:47
1953 forum posts
503 photos


Rotagrip only appear to offer the choice of these two 4jaw SC chucks - Bison made in Poland and TOS (I assume) made in the Czech Republic, both at £300+

I have a 4" 4jaw SC chuck. Although it has several part type numbers stamped on it I can't see a maker's name. I bought it new about 15 years ago for less than £100. It has less run out than my Burnerd 3 jaw SC but then it is considerably less worn.

Burnerd appear to be part of a large multinational - who knows where they are made.

As far as the OP is concerned, experience from people who actually have the relevant chucks and can comment on their performance would appear to be more useful than an argument (prejudice?) about where they are made.



Edited By Roderick Jenkins on 06/02/2013 08:49:19

Jens Eirik Skogstad06/02/2013 10:56:12
395 forum posts
22 photos
Posted by alan smith 6 on 06/02/2013 10:41:36:


Jens Eirik, Your name is obviously Norwegian, are you located in Norway or the UK?


Alan, i am norwegian, also i live in Norway.

Michael Gilligan06/02/2013 11:13:49
16420 forum posts
715 photos
Posted by alan smith 6 on 06/02/2013 10:41:36:

Can`t get rid of that smiley that suddenly appeared!

It's an unfortunate "feature" of this forum software

... auto-smileys or some such nonsense.

Use of Brackets [ ] instead of Parentheses ( ) will usually do the trick.


blowlamp06/02/2013 11:29:00
1424 forum posts
87 photos

Don't be fooled into thinking that all Pratt Burnerd chucks are perfect, because I have a very lightly used chuck as originally supplied new to me by Harrison machine tools, which I have recently discovered came with inaccurately ground jaws and allowed small diameter stock (3mm) to move about, instead of being held securely right to the tip of the jaws and this caused the work to be made with three lobes instead of truly circular.

Some careful work with a half-round diamond file removed the raised area from the clamping surfaces and now the chuck is good, but the point still remains that it wasn't supplied that way.



Edited By blowlamp on 06/02/2013 11:30:42

Ian S C06/02/2013 11:29:38
7468 forum posts
230 photos

Don't know if they produce chucks, but I'm quite happy with the Skoda live center, although I'm on my second one, because although the place I got mine will rebuild warn out ones, it was going to cost about $NZ 20 more than a new one. Ian S C

Roderick Jenkins06/02/2013 12:02:57
1953 forum posts
503 photos


Looking at the Rotagrip site, although they do not appear to sell Burnerd 4 jaw SC chucks, they do sell Burnerd 3 jaw SC at what seem to be pretty attractive prices. Even though the prices suggest that they are not sourced from the UK, they will conform to Burnerd's specifications that are described in their catalogue. This makes them good value to my eyes.

I'm fully supportive of returning the UK to a manufacturing industry but I've learnt my lesson in the past by buying motor cars that are not as good as their continental rivals - it didn't help and I suffered. On the whole, British manufacturers do not offer goods that are aimed at the Model Engineer market, so lets help each other by identifying the best of what's available.


Tony Jeffree06/02/2013 12:32:59
395 forum posts
8 photos
Posted by alan smith 6 on 05/02/2013 23:25:35:


Are you telling us that Pratt Burnerd chucks are no longer British made?


As far as I am aware, only the Griptru chucks are still manufactured in the UK. My industry informant tells me that TOS makes P&B chucks these days,

Not entirely surprising given the apalling state of UK investment in manufacturing over the past couple of decades - the up & coming manufacturing countries have invested in the latest manufacturing systems and as a result can manufacture better quality for less.



jason udall06/02/2013 13:30:31
2026 forum posts
41 photos

During the Victorian era many local supliers/ manufacturers existed.

The consumer( at the time called "The Customer" ) would examine and judge for themselves the worth of the product.

In a given retailer flour might be adulterated with a wide range of non-flour .Coco also.. A trading family saw the opputunity / need to supply consistant and high quallity coco products...BRAND NAMES were born . You could buy XYZ brand and know you would get the same product you bought last time.

This lack of consistancy I see in todays market ( small tools etc. ) I find more of a problem than the absolute "Quality" of the's SORBA ( or what ever ) may not be the same as what you had last month.. ( year ) ...

Now onto my opion. TOS as a Check (?) supplier is not going to find the huge wages benifit of going far might continue to make inhouse.and might continue to deliver what they always have

If say Burnned had their's made in far East they may or maynot do the QA prior to shipping ( I bet they will find lots to reject if they do one of my customers reconded on 60% rejects for simple injection moulded components and 40 % for turned parts )

Sorry but sadly distance buying is always going to be fraught.. even in the case of large companies purchasing departments..

Regards Jason

NJH06/02/2013 13:47:53
2314 forum posts
139 photos


Alan says "Those who buy second hand will probably find that there is no chuck key or inside jaws accompanying the chuck."

It is wise to check first but I picked up a very good condition S/H 3- jaw s/c Griptru WITH both sets of jaws and the correct chuck key ( for both closing and micro adjusting the jaws) from a dealer. The price was about the same as a new standard new non-UK item. A dealer will often take in a machine and then sell off the more tasty accessories separately. You need to be in the right place at the right time of course!

S/H 4-Jaw s/c chucks are probably harder to find and I " indulged" myself with a new HBM version which is fine. Yes you could use a 4-jaw independant chuck for all work but, in my view, life is too short! ( Yes I know the folk who do this for a living can set stuff in an independant chuck in the flicker of a gnats eyelid but I never seem to have enough hands)

Joey - you don't say WHY you are seeking a 4 jaw rather than a 3 jaw - both have their uses but for everyday I think the 3-jaw has the edge.



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