When it comes to drilling on the lathe, you can either choose to
hand-hold a drill bit (with appropriate holding device) or to use a drill chuck mounted in the
tailstock to bore holes. Naturally, the latter just seems a lot
safer and more accurate to me.
In the hunt for a drill chuck to use with my lathe, I invariably
entered the keyed vs keyless debate in my mind. I use a keyed
drill chuck on my drill press, but thought a keyless might work
well for lathe work, given that the drill bit remains stationary
while the workpiece is doing the spinning. Of course, if your
drill press uses a morse taper #1 or #2 arbor, you can use these
chucks on your drill press too. Mine has a Jacobs arbor so I
couldn't test it on the drill press.
The key to a good keyless chuck is jaw design and how well it
can be tightened by hand. A drill bit that slips in the chuck
constantly is virtually useless!
So I grabbed one of the Torquata DCAK series keyless drill
chucks. There are several in the line, depending on the chuck
capacity and taper you require. I picked up the DCAK-132, 13mm
chuck with a #2 morse taper. You will also need a morse taper
drill chuck arbor to suit the taper on your tailstock. Mine was
again a #2 MT fit.
The drill chuck comes completely assembled and ready to use.
Simply insert your drill chuck arbor and slide this into the
tailstock of your lathe and you are ready to go. Be sure that
when you first receive the chuck to remove all the
protective/packing grease with an appropriate degreaser before
use. This will ensure few problems with bit slippage and provide
the best grip possible on the bit. You might also want to
slightly rough the surfaces with steel wool for an even better
The full metal
construction of all chuck components makes the chuck itself
quite heavy... definitely heavy-duty-grade in terms of
The three jaws on the chuck operate in unison when tightened or
loosened to ensure the drill bit is well centered when fully
tightened, which should help reduce drill bit "wobble" at the
tip caused by miss-centering of the jaws. A well centered and
true-running drill bit also keeps accuracy levels high when
drilling, ensuring a bored hole is the exact diameter of the
drill bit itself. Each jaw features a triangular tipped design,
with the apex ground down flat for more surface area grab on the
bit. When fully tightened without a bit inserted, each jaw met
with its neighbor perfectly (to the naked eye), again displaying
a high level of chuck machining quality.
Tightening or loosening the chuck simply involves holding the
upper collar with one hand while rotating the lower sleeve with
the other. This either extends and closes the jaws or retracts
and opens them. Either 13mm or 16mm drill diameter capacity is
possible, depending on the specific model chuck you purchase. Cross-etched grip areas help get a better grasp on the body of
the chuck to tighten it firmly, or release it later on.
I mainly used both twist drill bits/brad point bits and smaller forstner
bits in the chuck when drilling on the lathe. I drilled pen
blanks of all sizes, holes for specific chucks mounts and
clearance for salt/pepper mills, among others. The keyless chuck
exhibited no signs of letting go or loosening of the drilling
bit as I progressed the cutter into the workpiece, advancing the
tailstock. Remember to retract the bit often to remove debris
and shavings for best drilling results.
For around AUD$60, the Torquata DCAK series keyless drill chucks
are well worth the price in my opinion. They are very high
quality, very solid and durable and keep a firm grip on the bit,
even during heavier cuts. Plus, no fumbling around for that
missing chuck key or using up time tightening the three points
on a keyed chuck.
If you are looking for a drill chuck
to use on the lathe, this chuck is definitely worth considering
if you are hunting for a keyless option.