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Collets for Mini and Bench Lathes

For holding a work piece in a lathe, collets provide better concentricity than a 3-jaw chuck without the bother of centering a 4-jaw independent chuck.

We have lots of options for using collets with small lathes.

Chris Chris' Tips
Cut to the chase: We recommend the flange-mount ER collet chuck for maximum flexibility.

3C Collets

 
3C Collet

3C collets have all but disappeared from the commercial marketplace. They are small and they have a limited clamping range. Because of the limited clamping range, they must be used with material that is the nominal diameter of the collet. And since they are only available in 1/16-inch increments, they are not very useful. 3C collets have a size range of 1/16" to 1/2".

We have 3C collet closers with adapters for most lathes with a 3MT spindle bore.

If you have a production job using small diameter material, they may be a good solution. You can pass material up to 7/16" through the collet and drawtube so you can use long material.

Here are our 3C collet products.

5C Collets

 
5C Collet

5C collets are pretty much the industry standard for work holding. They are inexpensive and are available in myriad sizes and styles. Besides collet chucks for lathes, there are collet blocks, indexing spin jigs, 5C collet fixtures and collet stops available.

The drawback for small lathes is their size. They are too large to fit into the spindle of small lathes. 5C collet chucks use up too much of the center distance on small lathes.

Here are our 5C collet products.

ER collets

 
ER Collet

ER collets have a wide clamping range and high accuracy. While they are designed for tool holding, they work great for work holding in small lathes. With a full set of ER collets you can hold any diameter that is in the clamping range of the set.

There are several sizes of ER collets as shown in this table:

ER Collet Length Diameter Clamping Range
ER-11 18 mm (0.71") 11.5 mm (0.45") 0.5—7 mm (0.020—0.276")
ER-16 27.5 mm (1.08") 17 mm (0.67") 0.5—9 mm (0.020—0.354")
ER-20 31.5 mm (1.24") 21 mm (0.83") 1—13 mm (0.039—0.512")
ER-25 34 mm (1.34") 26 mm (1.02") 1—16 mm (0.039—0.630")
ER-32 40 mm (1.57" 33 mm (1.30") 1—21 mm (0.039—0.827")
ER-40 46 mm (1.81") 41 mm (1.61") 3—26 mm (0.188—1.024")

There are several styles of ER collet chucks, but only two are applicable to small lathes:

Flange mount collet chuck Collet chuck with Morse taper shank
Flange mount collet chuck Collet chuck with Morse taper shank

The flange mount collet chuck mounts on your lathe like a lathe chuck. It bolts to the spindle flange or to an adapter if required. The advantage of this style of collet chuck is the through-hole. You can pass material through the headstock so you can work on long material.

The Morse taper mount collet chuck goes right into the spindle. Because the shank is solid, it restricts the length of the work piece you can use. You can usually put slightly more than the length of the collet into the collet chuck.

ER collets are self-extracting, so you don’t need to worry about getting the collet out of the chuck.

Chris Chris' Tips
With all ER collet chucks, the collet must be snapped into the nut before placing it into the chuck. There is an eccentric ring inside the nut that engages the groove in the collet. That is what makes them self-ejecting. Tilt the collet again to remove it from the nut.


We carry both types of collet chucks in several styles along with many other ER collet accessories.

Here are our ER collet products. This shows the sizes of all the ER collets we carry.

Morse Taper Collets

 
Morse Taper Collet

Morse taper collets are the "native" collets for most small lathes. Because of the limited clamping range, they must be used with material that is the nominal diameter of the collet. And since they are generally available only in 1/16-inch increments, they are not very useful.

Morse taper collets are compressed and held in place with a drawbar. This means they are only useful in the headstock as there is no provision for a drawbar in the tailstock.

The Morse taper is a self-holding taper, so you must use a hammer on the drawbar to release it.

Morse taper 3 collets have a size range of 1/16" to 3/4". Morse taper 2 collets have a size range of 1/16" to 1/2".

Here are our Morse Taper products.

 

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