3 Jaw Lathe Chuck

by bobwomble, published

3 Jaw Lathe Chuck by bobwomble Jan 7, 2015
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Durwin Pye has sorted out the Scad file so it is now brilliant, Thanks,
I have added it to the list of files -not for the faint of heart-

After printing some other designs and finding they did not work for me, I decided to have a go myself, So here it is, Please beware, I have made allowances for my own printer so I take no resonsibility if it doesnt work for you.
Also, to state the obvious, this is a plastic chuck, it has its limits!.
101mm diameter, 59mm thick plus 25mm jaw height.
With thanks to;
-Parametric Involute Bevel and Spur Gears by GregFrost
-Customizable Spiral Generator by walter
for the hard work
I have printed and tested (sort of) different jaw materials And added photos
ABS,......................Best grip
Flexi at 85% infill ..2nd -being flexible they grab well
PLA ......................3rd, ok but tend to over tighten, which could break the scroll
NYLON..................3rd equal

Thanks to MrArrow1961 for the reverse jaws thingiverse.com/thing:624814

Check out this awesome assembly video https://vimeo.com/137431844
by yuri9999! http://www.thingiverse.com/make:155862

I have not included the Scad file at the moment, as it is a real mess,
if I can tidy it up I will post at a latter date-DONE
Thanks to Durwin Pye for cleaning the scad.


I have added photos for reference,
1 face housing
1 rear housing, either bolt hole which is more stable, or 10mm hex
1 scroll
1 gear ring
3 drive gear
1 of each jaw 1, 2 and3
the jaws are numbered as they have to be inserted in the correct order to get them to align.
You will need 1 M8 hex key for the drive gears, mine is a very snug fit.

I printed at 0.25mm layer height, 35% honeycomb infill
and sliced with slic3r 1.1.7, using a 0.4mm nozzle.
Please check the resulting code for possible problems before you print, especially perimeters around holes

7x M3 by 8mm long screws, (I cut down longer ones)
they are to attach the scroll to the gear ring, do not over tighten, or you will strip out the plastic
3x M4 by about 40mm long screws, these hold the drive gears in place, I had to file the head down on my ones so they would fit.
6x M4 by about 20/30mm screws to hold the back plate on
1x M10 bolt and nut for the drive shaft

You will also need small files and sandpaper to touch up any lumps and bumps from printing, also maybe to smooth the gear ring inner and outer surface etc.
Please be aware, I found the print supports for the face housing tricky to remove, be patient and use a file to clean up if needed to get the jaws in
Also drill bits to clear the holes
** Test fit the jaws in the face housing before inserting anything else as these will most likely need a little filing, they should fit in and slide freely but not sloppy.
Once everything is cleaned up and fits freely, screw the scroll and gear ring together not tight, and drop in to the housing, fit the 3 drive gears and screw in the M4 locking screws
take your M8 hex key and make sure the gears turn easy then advance the scroll until you see the start of the thread, back it up a bit and insert Jaw1, advance the scroll it should start pulling the jaw in then insert jaw 2, then 3, screw on the back plate and your good to go.
Good luck.

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Comments deleted.

hey man, what allen key are you using to open and close the chuck? is it imperial? one size for me is small and the next is just a tad larger (metric). also, thank you very much for the design looks great!

M8, its a snug fit, As I noted on the details page I had slightly modified parameters to suit my printer.
If you find one size slightly to tight, maybe you could carefully heat it up and push it in to make it the correct size?

oh i didnt see that you noted it. yeah maybe the heat gun will be a good idea. thank you very much :)

Comments deleted.

Wow!!! I'll print it ASAP and connect it to a speed regulated AC/DC motor to build a mini-lathe. Of course I've to design a bearing tailstock for wider works.
Many thanks...

Very nice work! This is a great starting point for a lathe if the drill by itself isn't good enough.

Thanks, a lathe was the original plan, however my time has been otherwise occupied, maybe one day.

I have a problem with the scroll it breaks always, printed in ABS speed 50mm/s infill 50% honeycomb layer 0.12mm.
I think i print it again all in PLA and scale it at 200% so the scroll should not break i hope :/

The scroll is the weekest part and abs is prone to delamination.
Pla or nylon is better . Also I would use higher infill and a slower print speed. Good luck.

Has anyone made this just threaded for an actual lathe, or does it only take the bolt in order to connect it to a drill? I have a wood lathe, and this would be great for gently holding things I don't want to scratch while finish sanding them.

Not that I know of, it would just need a new back plate designed.
I don't have the time at the moment, perhaps someone might be able to post one.

Oh, I wouldn't expect you to do it for me. I just couldn't tell from the pictures if it was already threaded for a lath and could use a bolt, or only a bolt. Thanks for the quick reply. :)

I have just added the Scad file, very grateful to Durwin Pye for sorting it out, also you can change the number of jaws.
If anyone improves on it please let me know so as I can add it for everyone to enjoy.

Mar 4, 2016 - Modified Mar 4, 2016
KreAture - in reply to bobwomble

Fantastic work!
There does appear to be another file missing though.
"WARNING: Can't open library 'TextGenerator.scad'. "
I guess a ref to http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:59817 is in order for easier access.

OpenSCAD 3D Text Generator

hello :)
printed it out, great design!
everything fits so nicely :)

i can't wait for scad files release so i could tinker with it even more (scale, modify etc.)

btw, one can buy jaws/scroll/housing parts of "real" metal lathe chucks individually ,
the smallest jaws i could find locally are 50mm long , so just a little bigger than ones you use :)
It would be great to make different sizes versions allowing to either use metal parts, as part of plastic chuck, or
to use plastic parts (like jaws) into metal chucks :)

Has anyone used this to hold wood for wood turning? Looking to make a mini lathe to turn .75" x .75" x 4" blocks down and hoping this will be strong enough to take the hits when going from square to rounded.


During testing I had a piece of 20mm aluminum rod 1/2 pop out of the jaws and bash into my carriage several times until I managed to shut it down. No visible damage to the chuck.
But it would depend on many things, How well bonded your layers are, how true your chuck is setup ie: dead center no wobble, how sharp your tools are, using very small cuts, preparing your bits of wood, like round of the corners a bit before you start.
I have found that PLA is best as it is strong and rigid, no flex
ABS has flex .

Hi, are you trying to print this from ABS?
I tried to print face_housing from abs 3 times, but no succes, cracks and layer delamination in the middle of housing.
Jaws printed nicely.
Maybe i should try to print from PLA everything except gears and jaws?

I printed all parts in PLA as I find it is harder and more rigid than ABS.
I have found gears are best printed from PLA or Nylon as ABS is a bit too soft and tends to wear out faster.
As for cracks and delamination, That is classic print setting issues IE: check your heatbed, nozzle temps, fan speeds, yada yada etc etc

do you by any chance sell these chucks?

Hello Impala416,
To be honest, I had never thought about it, as It started as a personal challenge. I would have to look in to the amount of fillament required etc to see what the cost would be.
Also, what part of the world would I need to send to?


with a fixed price of 50-70$ you woud cover cost and labor. The time part is in fact the fun we Maker's get ^_^

That can be reduced(scaled)?

I haven't tried but others have check out the other comments below an the other makes like this one https://www.thingiverse.com/make:147075
Cheers Bob.

3 Jaw Lathe Chuck

I want to do this for a 4th axis cnc, for milling small of wax models.

This is awesome! Thank you for sharing

Comments deleted.

Awesome! Thank you very much for sharing this!
Do you know if it is possible to use it to drill 0,35mm hotends holes?

If you have the chuck perfectly centered, and take it very carefully, you should be able to, I haven't tried it myself, let me know how you get on.
PS I drill my nozzle's out by hand with a pin vice, after starting the hole with a 1mm drill in the drill press.
I doesn't take long and you have a better feel for what is happening.

Couldn't an alternative to the reversible teeth come from diamond-oid tracks on the bottoms of the teeth, instead of the specific curves it currently has? As long as they maintain angle and width in relation to the spiral for the spiral it should be flip-able.

I think that would work, Let me know how you get on, Bob

Do you think this would work at half scale?

80mm and if your printer have 0.3mm nozzel ,yes , would work. But you have to know - as much you are scaling down this item that mich you are loosing its load tech spec.

Also have a look at your g code as the face housing exterior wall is already pretty thin, so scaling it down will make it weaker and you will have to use smaller diameter screws , also you would need to calculate the reduced size of the hex key for the drive gears, other wise you could end up with no way of using the chuck.

Yes, you are absolutely right, I had only say that scale down is possible but did not went into the design details, sorry , my mistake.

Feb 10, 2015 - Modified Feb 11, 2015

Dear Bob, I have question to rear housing element (cap) - why it has so high vertical walls if scroll & gear ring abut to the drive gears? In my version I am going to cut those walls because they are creating additional friction force when I want to open or close chuck's jaws. I will leave only 2,5mm height.

Feb 11, 2015 - Modified Feb 11, 2015
bobwomble - in reply to MrArrow1961

MrArrow1961, The high walls act as a bearing surface against the back of the scroll gear, that is why the gear ring is a smaller diameter than the scroll gear
if you cut the wall off and tighten the chuck, the drive gears will take all load, this could lead to the ends breaking off the drive gears, Your remix using a 3mm screw as a pin may stop this , however the load will still be against the gears
There shouldn't be too much friction, I would suggest removing only a small amount say 0.25mm so that it wont bind, also check that the gear ring outer diameter is less than the inner diameter of the rear housing walls so it can turn freely.

Feb 11, 2015 - Modified Feb 11, 2015
MrArrow1961 - in reply to bobwomble

Dear Bob, I had find video on russian which show chuck internal components. Cap has the wall like you had use, but that wall not for supporting the scroll gear. Yes the the drive gears will take all load and my suggested M3 screw will take the load.
See this video, sorry for russian language, language not changing the the mech parts. http://youtu.be/6Smb2Gjfz84

I will test the both versions with and without walls and will leave objective additional info.
Chuck parts load distribution are the following:
Frontal load jaws are taking and passing to the face housing. The scroll gear and drive gears with gear ring just under the load of protract of processing object and finally it is again on face housing part via drive gears.

I see in the video short walls, but that is a metal chuck, much stronger.
Thank you for the analysis of load distribution, it makes sense, I am not an engineer and get lost in some of that technical stuff sometimes.
I look forward to your test info on the different versions, maybe with lots of input from you, I or someone else we can refine the design into a better chuck.
PS sorry i missed your other post a couple of days ago, I printed all in PLA, for no other reason than its my cheapest fillament and I wanted to test it before posting the files, I plan to re print at some stage in Abs for housing and nylon for gears.

Feb 12, 2015 - Modified Feb 12, 2015
MrArrow1961 - in reply to bobwomble

Thank you for comment dear Bob. We all here (I hope so) to help each other dear, no problem. I like your intention to print Abs for housing and nylon for gears. It is going to be the best combination, just make it with 100% infill, my suggestion dear!
I am moving a bit slow because the main big work load at Country Telecom DC, but Tests will be presented, promise!
After tests, if they are positive, I will take advantage to make 4 jaw chuck design, i need to dump my load and have some rest of the mind with such nice design :)

No hurry eh,
Ive been thinking a bit about a stronger housing, especially the rear housing, also using a 20mm hollow brass threaded tube for mounting instead of the 10mm hex bolt, but haven't quite figured out mounting options yet, anyone else got any ideas?

Dear Bob, see important recomendadtion in my next remix here

3 Jaw Lathe Chuck drive gear remix - reinforsment
Feb 10, 2015 - Modified Feb 10, 2015
bobwomble - in reply to MrArrow1961

I had thought about doing that originally, but I found my parts to be more than strong enough as they are, and I have really put them under some pressure.
I do find if I print parts faster than around 60mm/s they tend to get weaker, That could just be my printer though.
Also I have found that a good honeycomb infill is far stronger than solid infill.

60 mm/s holy cow... Thats pretty slow? How long did it take to print some of the parts. Post some print times.

Hi Bri113, it depends to your printer specs and slicing mode. It can be determined by you.
I had print out all with 100% infill.

Ok print times etc, using Slic3r 1.1.7- 0.4mm nozzle, home made hotend, home made Mendel90 with extruder mounted on X carriage and 3mm filament, (Lots of things here that limit print speed before even looking at slice settings).
3 top and bottom layers, 3 perimeters, 35% honeycomb fill, 50mm/sec perimeter, with exterior perimeter at 80% of that, 60mm/s infill, 50mm/s top solid infill 180mm/s non print moves, results in;
-Face Housing 8hours 48 min using 16.5m filament
-Gear ring 2 hours 11min using 3.854m filament
-3 Drive Gears 2 hours 20min using 4.258m filament
If I was to slice with Cura with above settings (except honeycomb infil) my print times would be faster still as it seems to slice differently .
I could speed that up even on my printer , however I would end up with less quality and a print result where parts may not fit together as well as they should, or as previously mentioned weaker parts.
Now I could print these parts out on my other printer which uses 1.75mm filament and has better bearings, much faster but my old trusty printer prints fine and Im not really in any huge hurry.
I would be interested in your printer and slicing settings and a photo of your prints to compare?

Feb 13, 2015 - Modified Feb 13, 2015
MrArrow1961 - in reply to bobwomble

Dear Bob,
I am using 1,75 filament, my printer has special home made fast hotend which able to produce 1000mm/min https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VsqaKwQl79o polymer if printer will be able to move at 3000mm/sec:) As far as hotend has no limits to reach low 300mm/sec printing speed it is producing not bad prints. Nozzle can be changed from 0,1 to 0,6mm, mean time I am on 0,35mm to have fast prints and good quality. temperature of printing also influencing to the item quality, As much it high that much printer printing fast, of corse T has max limits for each polymer.
To show my printer quality I prefere to print cube 50x50x50mm. Here is the results: http://s14.postimg.org/mau820ke9/test_cub_50mm.jpg.
Both objects were printout by using 0,2 mm layer and 200 mm/sec speed of printing via Cura. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Mf26l3mp8Y
As I told you before I am producing my own ABS filament with very low self price as 4$ per 1kg, so I am able without any thinking use 100% infill and get almost 100% solid parts as it may come after molding/casting. As for example of my time for Face Housing at 100% infill - 11:30 hours

Mar 9, 2015 - Modified Mar 9, 2015
Bri113 - in reply to MrArrow1961

yea i may have to try and print my face housing at 100% infill because I printed at 35% and it turned out terrible... weak and fell apart. I am using 1.75 mm PLA on a Gen 5 Makerbot

Feb 10, 2015 - Modified Feb 10, 2015
MrArrow1961 - in reply to bobwomble

Dear Bob, what polymer did you used for drive gears? PLA more hard but brittle, the ABS more elastic not so hard like PLA and not too much brittle.
Moreover, since drive gear printed in vertical position the polymer fiber structure lies in the horizontal direction and in the same direction it is under load and break the seam. If we will turn drive gear to 90 degrees to print then the force of the pressure will fall against the polymer fiber axis and can not break it.But at this case, we are forced to use the support structure that will decline the quality of printed gear teeth .This is not desirable. Therefore, I recommend using a metal screw in body of axis and print object vertically.
(Sorry for my poor English, hope I had explained all correct.)

Also was an tapping of the holes needed?

Don't tap the holes, run an appropriate drill through to clean the hole,(2.5mm drill for a 3mm bolt) then slowly screw the bolt into the hole which will cut the thread for you, if you wind the screw in to fast it heats up and melts the plastic, effectively striping the hole out. I have found with PLA that if you tap the holes, the tap seems to make the hole to big and you end up with a sloppy fit.

If u Form the thread with a threadformer(Not a threadcutter) or with a screw, you have to make the hole bigger then the regular hole for a M3 thread. 2,7mm will work better.

Whats a thread cutter? You mean a tap?? Like a tap and die set. Google it.

Also for example the picture with the blue jaws.... Is that showing reverse jaws or did you simple just spin the part around and insert it in the opposite direction?? I'm asking this because I see a remix with reverse jaws.

Hi, it is reverse jaws

I printed at .25mm and 35% infill on my Makerbot 5th gen desktop printer and the first part (face housing) did not turn out too good. I didn't print with raft or support. I will be trying some other parts on the parts list to see how they print. Any tips or print settings I could change for better parts? Thanks

Hello Bri113, Thanks for your feed back,
What specifically do you mean by "did not turn out to good"? What fillament are you using?
Have you had success printing other objects of a similar size in the same fillament at the same settings etc?
If you message me via "about bobwomble" and send me a photo that would be even better.

Cheers Bob.

Feb 3, 2015 - Modified Feb 3, 2015
Bri113 - in reply to bobwomble

What I mean by not good is it had holes in it, lots of sanding and cutting off material with an exact-o knife. I am going to re print the face housing. I printed the gears at 0.20mm and 35% infill and it turned out better. I think thats what I will use for the face housing. Can you post more pictures of how the chuck connects to the drill? Also what other things do you connect it to?

I was using 1.75mm PLA filament bought on eBay for about $20 for 2.2lbs... It seems to work just as well as the Makerbot filament. They say it voids the warranty on the print head but I've already opened mine many time to remove jams so I had already voided the warranty.

PS: Could you maybe post a video on Youtube of how the chuck works and how to assemble! It would be very helpful and I'm sure you would get many more people to print it!!!

I only have experience with my home built mendel90, I don't see any reason why you would have any problems, but I would stick to settings that you have had success with in the past.
I have never used a raft, and the only support you need is built in to the design (on the face housing it is little hollow cubes at the bottom, should be pretty obvious)
The parts were designed for 0.25mm layer height as that is what I mostly use, different layer heights shouldn't cause too much of a problem, although It will slightly change the location of some parts in the z direction, nothing a file or sand paper wont fix. The problems you are having sound more like mechanical or slicer type settings to me.
Do you check your G code before you print? (I am guessing you can do that on you Makerbot s/w)

I connect at the moment to a battery drill with a 10mm bolt through the rear housing, see the photo above, And that seems to work very well, I have a few ideas for different methods, but am currently working on another project, so will have to come back to that at a later date.
One point to note, be very careful when removing the print supports from the face housing it is tricky.
I thought about posting a video, but haven't done that before, I will see what time allows.

Best of luck,

im printing one out now is ther an issue with the strength of the teeth on the jaw? would it be worth printing them on a 45* angle to increase strength?
kind regards

Hello dxhacksaw, I haven't had any problems with the jaws, but if you print them out at 45angle please let me know your results,
as you can see from the photos, I have filed out an alloy scroll gear and had no problems with the jaws.
I would say the week point of the chuck is the scroll thread, as it could snap off at the base of the thread if the jaws are over tightened.
Thanks for your interest,

This is brilliant. I was looking for a way to make a mini hobby lathe and this should work. If you upload your .scad files I can help clean up the code and possible make a 4-jaw remix. I agree with MrArrow1961, though, that you should finalize this "Thing" as is and then immediately start a remix or a new "Thing" that has some improvements like the jaw redesign and SAE rear housing. Just brilliant, though. Thank you for sharing your work.

Jan 20, 2015 - Modified Jan 20, 2015
bobwomble - in reply to dpye_bc

Thanks dpye_bc,
I also have been looking at making a mini hobby lathe, and haven't found a suitable chuck, so i decided to make this one, now I am turning my attention to the rest of the lathe. I had a quick look at my scad files (there are many, and already I cannot remember how they go together ) I am the first to admit I am not good at organizing files or writing code (its all long hand) etc, but I am getting better (slowly). I will get on to it when I get a chance as I am keen on your 4 jaw . Bob

Jan 12, 2015 - Modified Jan 12, 2015

Dear Bob, thank you for grate discriptions regarding used materials and mentioning my name dear!
Can not understand why your nice desine not evaluated by site owners after so many likes, views and downloads...
Not fair!!!
I think this notification as "Hey! This thing is still a Work in Progress. Files, instructions, and other stuff might change! " inhibit them?

Hello MrArrow1961, I think its only fair to mention your name, your jaws are the only ones i have used so far and they work very well, both the flexi fillament and the nylon, I will load a photo of your jaws holding a cast aluminum scroll gear that I filled down and fitted to my chuck. (my first attempt at casting not perfect but it works)
you are correct about coefficient of friction although that stuff is way to technical for me to understand, I get the gist of it.
Your comment "Not Fair!!!" I dont mind as life is like that, lesson learned years ago.
Keep up the good work, Bob.

Good lathe chuck.

Jan 7, 2015 - Modified Jan 7, 2015

Here I had start some Jaw remix dear Bob. hope you will like it:)

Reverse Jaw (1,2,3) for Lathe Chuck

Dear Bob, very nice item and design !!! Are you printd it by using PLA or ABS?

Hello MrArrow1961,

Thanks for your comment, I printed it in PLA as it is a harder plastic and better for gears, ABS would wear away too fast.

Jan 7, 2015 - Modified Jan 7, 2015
MrArrow1961 - in reply to bobwomble

ABS can be coated by super glue and become very hard, I am talking about natural ABS, not recycled one.Moreover ABS can resist more high temp. than PLA. In any way...
Thanks for info and desin again dear Bob. Based on that I will try to make other type of chuck jaw.I hope you understand what I mean as far as you are good mech. enginneer. Here it is http://s17.postimg.org/60az405r3/cats.jpg

Thats a good tip on treating ABS with super glue, I will try that.
Yes you are right about the ABS resisting higher temp, I might print the jaws out of nylon yet.
I had also thought about using the PLA as a mold for casing in aluminum but I am not to sure how that will go.

Jan 7, 2015 - Modified Jan 7, 2015
MrArrow1961 - in reply to bobwomble

There are many video at youtube regarding molding via PLA etc. such parts surface need additional mech. processing, and it must be done by other cnc .But I prefer your way to use polymer in chucks to reach light weight and good balance. There is other idea to put in jaw nylon round rods at the point where it touching object. I will see. I will share if I will got positive result.