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Thread: How to Fix Drill Press Chuck?

  1. #1
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    How to Fix Drill Press Chuck?

    The problem: I have a floor standing drill press from Harbor Freight. It's served me well for over 15 years in my hobby shop. Recently, I've needed to drill 1/4" holes in hardened steel knife blanks. Using cobalt drill bits and plenty of oil lubrication, the first two holes went slowly, but well. On the third, the drill bit has started to slip in the chuck. Tightening the chuck as tight as I can without resorting to using a wrench on the chuck key is of no avail. The drill bit stops spinning almost as soon as it contacts the knife blank. Visual inspection of the chuck jaws did not reveal any obvious signs of wear, but one of the three drill bits I've used shows some galling. When I close the chuck completely, all three jaws match up perfectly.

    I could use some advice. Is there a way to repair the chuck so that it will properly hold the drill bits? Or, will I need to replace the chuck?
    David Walser
    Mesa, Arizona

  2. #2
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    It sounds like your drill bit is dull after drilling the first two holes. Hardened steel is really tough on drill bits.
    Lee Schierer
    Captain USN(Ret)

    My advice, comments and suggestions are free, but it costs money to run the site. If you found something of value here please give a little something back by becoming a contributor! Please Contribute

  3. #3
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    Does the chuck need to be taken apart and cleaned or is it a nice smooth action that can be spun by hand?
    bill D

  4. #4
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    When you tighten a drill chuck it is important to tighten all 3 points of the chuck to get maximum grip on the drill.

    As was said already the drill is probably dull, but also the shank part of the drill is probably damage. You can try to remove the galling with a diamond file or a grinder, but you may need a a new drill.

  5. #5
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  6. #6
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    Or pick up some of the Milwaukee hex shank drill bits from Home Depot. There work great in a drill press and definitely will not slip in the drill chuck. There are pretty good quality and sharp, but for the hardened steel you are drilling expect them to dull after a few holes. I doubt there is anything wrong with your chuck, just dull bits. If you annealed your material, you could easily drill - and then re-harden (heat treat). Of if you have a large quantity of these to do, then consider having the holes either cnc laser cut or cnc water jet cut.
    David

    Milwaukee hex shank drill bit.jpg
    Last edited by David Buchhauser; 11-30-2021 at 3:22 AM.

  7. #7
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    Have you considered using a carbide drill bit? Readily available on the internet from several sources including Amazon. https://www.amazon.com/stores/page/E...b-ca539673a3ba
    NOW you tell me...

  8. #8
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    If the chuck has degraded to the point that it will not hold the tooling, they generally can be replaced...it's often a nice upgrade for a DP. If the issue is the actual tooling...lots of good suggestions here.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  9. #9
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    Thanks to all who have responded. I appreciate the advice. Allow me to respond. I appreciate the need for sharp drill bits. So far, I've used three brand-new cobalt drill bits -- one for each of the three holes I've drilled so far. I bought a package of ten 1/4" drill bits off of Amazon. I still have seven fresh bits left, so I'll give another one a try.

    The chuck opens and closes smoothly by hand. I can mount a drill bit in the chuck with just hand pressure, only needing the key to tighten the chuck firmly.

    I also appreciate the suggestion that I tighten the chuck using all three of the tightening points on the chuck. My dad taught me to do that and it's part of my standard practice.

    From your responses, it appears that the issue may not be with the chuck itself. That's comforting. I'll focus on other potential problems for the solution.

    Thanks, again.
    David Walser
    Mesa, Arizona

  10. #10
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    I was typing up my thanks, above, while Ole and Jim were chiming in. Thanks to both of them!

    I hadn't even considered a carbide tipped drill bit. Even though I knew that carbide was used in machining steel, somehow I had associated carbide drill bits with concrete work. If I'm going to be doing many more of these knives (big if), that seems like the way to go. Naturally, even though I really doubt I'll be doing more knives, I invested in a couple of solid carbide bits. After all, you shouldn't let a chance to buy a new tool go to waste!
    David Walser
    Mesa, Arizona

  11. #11
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    Devid, just keep in mind that carbide tooling, as wear resistant ias it is, can also be brittle in some circumstances, particularly laterally, so be sure your workpiece is "nailed down" so all the action is vertical. You also need to insure that any drill bits you use have the right tip format for drilling metal...which is very different than something made for concrete, for example.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  12. #12
    Totally different idea. Take a 16d nail, cut the head off, then chuck it in the drill. Where each hole is to be drilled, lower nail against steel and let it run till steel turns red, which will soften it.

  13. #13
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    You mentioned plenty of lubrication which is good but if it has gotten into the jaws it may be part of the problem. Chucks do need lubrication but not on the surface of the jaws.

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