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Quickly Aligning A Four Jaw Lathe Chuck

pipthepilot

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#31
A slight variation on this that works very well is to setup the dial gauge indicator then rotate the chuck 360 degrees by hand. As it rotates make a note of the minimum and maximum needle movement then average them, if the minimum is 0 and the maximum is 0.8 then the average is 0.4. Now rotate so the indicator lines up with the jaws and using two keys adjust until the indicator shows 0.4, now rotate 90% and repeat. In less than two whole turns on the chuck the work is perfectly centred.
 

catskinner

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#33
I think I saw an article (maybe in Home Shop Machinist) where the author made a couple of chuck keys with round handles for centering in a 4-jaw.
That sounds like a heck of an idea. I'm going to check now and see if a 1/4 or 3/8 drive ext. will fit my chuck. Then use those thumb wheel ratchets with the ratcheting part disabled with a drop of Super Glue. thumbwheel paint.jpg
 

Bob Korves

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#34
I have never had much trouble with a 4 jaw. Early on I was getting confused, but took just a little time to analyze what was really going on. Turn the chuck key clockwise and you push the work away, counterclockwise to pull it toward the key. The rest is just doing it...
 

markknx

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#36
I use one Key and a broken yard stick! No really I have been meaning to make a second key but I just never have.But I do the rest the same as Randy. Franko I saw the same article in either HSM or MWS. nice with like a thumb screw head.
Randy Thanks for taking the time to write this up and post it. even though I have a grip on this. It was write ups and you tube guys that got me this far. so I like that you did this for some guy like me to find and make his life easier. Even for guys that have other ways of doing this it is good to read. The more ways you know to skin a cat the more likely you will get that cat skinned.
Thanks again for the post
Mark
 

randyc

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#37
I use one Key and a broken yard stick! No really I have been meaning to make a second key but I just never have.But I do the rest the same as Randy. Franko I saw the same article in either HSM or MWS. nice with like a thumb screw head.
Randy Thanks for taking the time to write this up and post it. even though I have a grip on this. It was write ups and you tube guys that got me this far. so I like that you did this for some guy like me to find and make his life easier. Even for guys that have other ways of doing this it is good to read. The more ways you know to skin a cat the more likely you will get that cat skinned.
Thanks again for the post
Mark
Thank YOU, Mark, I sincerely appreciate your opinion ! It's always nice to know that the information is useful and the time spent is appreciated :)
 

markknx

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#38
Randy did you see bill 4227's Post of a youtube vid. another pretty cool way to skin that cat.
 

markknx

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#39
That sounds like a heck of an idea. I'm going to check now and see if a 1/4 or 3/8 drive ext. will fit my chuck. Then use those thumb wheel ratchets with the ratcheting part disabled with a drop of Super Glue. View attachment 99987
Catskinner, this may not work if your jaws move independent Only. when you get to larger dia. parts the spinner/thumbscrew may interfere with the end of the jaw sticking out. Just a thought.
Mark
 

catskinner

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#40
Catskinner, this may not work if your jaws move independent Only. when you get to larger dia. parts the spinner/thumbscrew may interfere with the end of the jaw sticking out. Just a thought.
Mark
That is true might have to add an extension of the appropriate length to make it work.
 

Bill Gruby

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#41
My way to set a four jaw, centered or offset is LOTS OF PRACTICE. I set mine either way, centered or offset in less than 60 seconds with a single wrench and magnetic based indicator..

"Billy G"
 

randyc

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#42
My way to set a four jaw, centered or offset is LOTS OF PRACTICE. I set mine either way, centered or offset in less than 60 seconds with a single wrench and magnetic based indicator..

"Billy G"
No offense but why would I want to move a single chuck key to two different locations when I can adjust the two jaws at the same time, one pushing and one pulling ? Using two chuck keys, just two to three iterations are required to get within .002 and that's a matter of ten or fifteen seconds, maybe thirty seconds for a novice.

But heck, I'm no missionary trying to convert someone who has been doing this for years - whatever works best for the individual is the "right" way in my opinion. Two chuck keys just happens to be WAY better than one for me :)
 

Bill Gruby

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#43
I was taught never to reach over the chuck, even when it's motionless. Also, I have trouble finding one key when I need it, two, forget it.

"Billy G"
 

randyc

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#44
I was taught never to reach over the chuck, even when it's motionless. Also, I have trouble finding one key when I need it, two, forget it.

"Billy G"
As I posted, I always disconnect the drive system before adjusting the chuck. But I hear you, loud and clear, Bill ! Every time I reach over the chuck the little voices in my head (from habits learned fifty years ago) tell me that I'm going to lose a hand.

But, following normal precautions, I'm OK with reaching over the chuck in this case. I'm old school just like you (e.g. no long-sleeve shirts when operating a lathe) and I don't think that there are any disagreements between you and me :)

As far as finding chuck keys, of course that's a perpetual problem. I tried to help myself a bit by making the second chuck key smaller than the original to make it easier to park both on the gear box:

P1050069.JPG
 

stupoty

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#45
  1. I used to use the two key method but I was constantly dropping one key behind the lathe, hummm
  • I didn't meen to bullit point it i hit the format button acidentaly opps

I saw somone on youtube that said somthing I try and do when I'm setting stuff in the four jaw, thats to only go one way, i.e. Only reduce towards zero, it kinda helps. (I think).

Also stepping up dti's or don't start with the one that reads 10th's ;)

Stuart
 

atlas ten

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#46
At machine shop that I worked for last summer, they tought me no gloves when operating machines and never leave chuck wrench in the chuck. As for using 2 wrenches would have been hard to do with 3/4" wrench. And only one wrench at each machine. Mainly used 4 jaw for drilling large holes (4.5") in up to 10" dia material. To use 2 wrench for me i would have to stand on the lathe (large Russian stanco). Only learded about the 2 wrench style from YouTube. Might have to try for my next project.
Jack
 

randyc

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#47
......As for using 2 wrenches would have been hard to do with 3/4" wrench. And only one wrench at each machine....
Several have mentioned problems using two chuck keys on large lathes to which I respond that this is a HOBBY machining forum. I think that most members expect to read posts oriented toward machine tools that a hobbyist might be expected to own - NOT machinery that wouldn't even fit in our garage !

Lacking a second chuck key, one might do the same as I did and make the second chuck key :)
 

kingmt01

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#48
Great tip. I use to do it like this & still do at times depending on my mood. However now I usually start off just a little different. Holding the piece between two jaws I center it between the other two basicly using them to point at center. Usually at this point it is really close. I can usually just finish with the indacator by just snugging up at that point.

This is my first time here & it seems like a nice place. I look forward to learning from you guys.
 

itsme_Bernie

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#49
Hah hah love the two wrenches thing! Funny how those "how didn't I think of that" ideas are often the best and most clever
 

atunguyd

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#50
Randy,

I do similar to you but with one modicifation:

I start by indicating on jaw one and zeroing the indicator. Now I indicate on the opposite jaw 3 lets say I get 0.10, I then turn the workpiece untill the indicator reads half that error (0.05) and I now rezero the indicator,
I then got to each jaw and adjust it down to zero on the indicator.

It is exactly like your method except you dont need to remember a number, just aim to get your DI to zero.

It does require that you have a rigid DI mount, I have one that mounts into my QCTP.
 

Bill Gruby

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#52
There is only one way to speed set a four jawed chuck. Two Chuck Keys, 1 Chuck Key makes no difference. The word is PRACTICE. I use one key an can dial it in, in 30 seconds or less once the piece is in the chuck.

"Billy G"
 

savarin

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#54
I really like the round key idea. I keep trapping my finger on the chip guard using the rear key.
 

kingmt01

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#55
Heck I go real slow. Don't want it to be over too quickly cause machining is fun.
Start with dial indicator, switch to .0005'' dti, then to .0001'' dti. Then take a nap.
I try to take as few of steps as I know how & I'm still really slow. I don't have time to get anything finished as it is. I don't need to find ways to drag it out. I have more fun when projects are finished.
 

chips&more

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#56
4 jaw chuck? What the heck is that? But really, in my shop the 4 jaw chuck collects a lot of dust. Yes, when you really need it, there is no substitute. But, I use my 3 jaw Buck for just about everything! Our ancestors were master artisans. They made works of art from the simplest of tools, basically stone axes. They did not have the internet to buy all the gadget toys for our shops. Most of the toys today are just hyped up ads. When you get the widget thing in the mail it goes in a draw never to be seen again. Do I need two keys for my 4 jaw…no. I can make the chuck work with just one key. But it’s a good idea. I would rather keep things simple in my shop like my ancestors did. I find the simplest method works the best and yields the best results as well. I often sleep on it/the project for a night. Then start the next day with the simple approach, works for me…Good Luck, Dave.
 

Silverbullet

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#57
My way to set a four jaw, centered or offset is LOTS OF PRACTICE. I set mine either way, centered or offset in less than 60 seconds with a single wrench and magnetic based indicator..

"Billy G"
That's the reason abom79 , ( Adam ) is so Quick he uses them daily , when you do something repeat ally it comes second nature . It's practice makes perfect. That's why trap and skeet shooters shoot almost daily if they can . If they don't keep up with the practice they dont win .
 

Tozguy

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#58
I think I saw an article (maybe in Home Shop Machinist) where the author made a couple of chuck keys with round handles for centering in a 4-jaw.
Along these lines, in the initial stage of zeroing work in a independent chuck, I use a regular chuck key but without the cross bar. I work it like a screwdriver and can reach around the back of the chuck quite well. It reduces the amount of chuck turning required and prevents me from over tightening the jaws during the adjustment period. Obviously the jaws have to be tighter than that for turning so they get snugged up evenly and gradually before starting the lathe.
 

uncle harry

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#59
Thanks Jim. I was expecting to learn something new but I think that post describes the method most of us have always used.
You can also locate Abom79 on utube. He is approaching his 100th video. Several of his videos show him very quickly centering a 4 jaw with very little needle movement.
 

Nels

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#60
You can also locate Abom79 on utube. He is approaching his 100th video. Several of his videos show him very quickly centering a 4 jaw with very little needle movement.
I will add that to our video library if I don't have it already. I know we have tubal cain's version.
 
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