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By Paul Holm

Old Collets

A while back, I met up with an old friend from my working days. Like me, he would look for bargains on things at auctions and the like that would complement his shop. At some point in time, he had acquired a set of South Bend C4 collets. Unable to come up with a use for them, he asked if I could use or wanted them. I told him I would somehow make use of them. Several weeks later, he appeared at my door with the collets, making me their new proud owner. What little research I did leads me to believe the collets were originally used on the old South Bend 14-1/2” lathe. With no idea of how I was going to use them, I decided the first thing to do was to clean them up. Most, including the rack, cleaned up like new when I bead-blasted them. Two of the collets had some physical damage to the face, but that did not appear the affect their functionality.

At first, I considered adapting them to my 6″ rotary table, but then I thought they would make a great match for my 6” Craftsman / Atlas lathe. The original set designed for it only went up to 1/2”Ø, and used a solid drawbar. This set went up to 3/4”Ø.

Years earlier, I read Pat Loop’s article “Make Your Own Collet Chuck” in the June 1988 edition of Projects in Metal. The article was also reprinted in the hardback edition of MetalWorking: Book One. At the time, I had a South Bend 9” lathe, and adding the use of the 5C collets really appealed to me. Needless to say, I made one of the chucks for my machine. I now decided to use the same basic design and re-engineer it to mate the newly acquired collet set to the 6” lathe. By using this chuck, which eliminated the need for a drawbar, it now allowed for the chucking of long stock, up to 1/2”Ø, as limited by the spindle bore. Refer to the accompanying photo to compare the two finished chucks (new chuck on the right).

“New Life for Old Collets” appears in the November/December 2009 issue of The Home Shop Machinist. If you are a subscriber, stay tuned! The issue will be in the mail soon! If you are not a subscriber, and would like to read the rest of the article, request a no-obligation issue now! If you do so by November 15th, you’ll receive the issue with this article in it! You can request an issue by following the links below or by calling 1-800-447-7367. Make sure you tell our circulation representatives that you’d like the November/December 2009 issue!

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