Collets provide a quick, easy method of mounting cylindrical parts or bar stock in the lathe with a great deal of centering accuracy. Each collet is actually a small, precision 3-jaw chuck that fits into a special tapered adapter in the headstock. A drawbar that passes through the headstock and threads into the backside of the collet is used to draw the collet up into the tapered adapter. The adapter causes the jaws of the collet to close down, gripping the part to be machined. Typically, collets provide a very accurate part mounting system, but each size collet can accommodate only a small range of diameters of approximately ±.001″ (.02mm).
WW collets differ from milling collets in that they have a hole all the way through the collet and drawbar. The maximum diameter stock that can pass entirely through the collet is 3/16″ or 4.5mm, although collets are available up to 5/16″ and 8.0 mm. The WW collets that are larger than the through-hole diameter are sometimes referred to as “pot” chucks.
These collets have a maximum runout of .002″ or less. If the WW collet adapter is trued in as suggested in the instructions, it will run dead true. This will allow the collet runout to be at its best. Collet sizes above 3/16″ (4.5mm), considered pot chucks, are not bored through. They are only bored .260″ deep and depending on your setup and length of the part, you may experience greater runout further away from the front of the collet.
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