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Machining Tools: Using a Collet in a Mill

The Voice: Hey, Kevin. What are you doing?

Kevin Caron: When I recently acquired this mill for my studio, I knew that there would be a lot to learn. There's a lot more versatility and a lot more attachments for this tool that I'll have to buy.

But just trying to figure out what your order of operation is; when to make this cut, when to make that cut, what tool to use, which feature to use, how you want to make it all work, is mind-boggling because it can do so many things.

You know what a drill press is, right? This piece is a chuck, like you would have in a drill press. Normally you would put a drill inside the chuck and you would take the key and tighten up the chuck. Then the drill press would turn the chuck, and that's what makes the drill press work.

The mill is like a huge drill press, but it does a zillion other things at the same time. See, I can take this chuck, put it up inside, and there's a little rod up on top that allows this to pull up inside and sink in there, then I can use it like a drill press, basically. I can drill holes with it and I can use the chuck.

But even a really good chuck; a really expensive one - one that's "precision" -isn't quite as centered, balanced, or quite as perfect as a collet. Do you know what a collet is?

This is a collet. It's a metal shaft with a taper with a precision hole inside, made on a mill, more than likely. It's got these little slits in it. When you fit this up inside the mill, then you tighten it down and suck that collet up inside. That causes these ends to close up, so when you put your end mill up inside there and close it up, this grips the end mill.

Now everything is perfectly aligned. There's no wobble, no run-out. There's nothing out of shape. Now you're going to get a much better, much straighter, more precision cut, assuming you turn the handle the right way - that's important. Like I said, there are so many things to learn.

Well, let me get this up there and I'll get to work. [preparing mill]

That's all there is to it. You put the collet up inside, get your adjustment right on there so it's sticking up as far as you need it. Tighten up the quill shaft on the top. Make sure you take your wrench off. Don't leave your wrench up there, because this part turns when you turn the machine on.

Now you're ready to go. You can run your table up, you can move it, do whatever you need. Put your work inside and get to work.

It's time for me to get to work. I'll see you next time.

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