Introduction: Rebuilding Keyed Drill Chucks

Picture of Rebuilding Keyed Drill Chucks

I have a number of drill chucks from drills salvaged from waste bins throughout the years. Surprisingly the reason I get the chucks is most people don't know how to repair, replace, or rebuild a drill chuck. Rebuilding a plain bearing drill chuck is not much different than replacing a bearing in an electric motor or the wheel spindle of your car.

Most of my drill chucks are Supreme and Jacobs ¼, ½, and ⅜ inch chucks, they are constructed and rebuilt in the same manor. However in this Instructable I will demonstrate rebuilding a vintage Jacobs Plain Bearing chuck, and Multi Craft drill chuck.

This Instructable is different from the Instructable, How To Disassemble A Keyless Drill Chuck.

Step 1: Keyed Chucks

Picture of Keyed Chucks

I have two basic keyed drill chucks; Multi Craft and Plain Bearing drill chucks. Drill chucks where the gear teeth and the split ring nut is one piece, and the tin sleeve is a separate part, is a Multi Craft, like the Jacobs chucks on the left.

Plain Bearing drill chucks are like the Jacobs chucks on the right where the gear teeth and sleeve are one piece, and the split ring nut is a separate part.

The more common of the two drill chucks to rebuild are the Plain Bearing drill chucks. Most modern plain bearing drill chucks are easy to buy rebuild kits and sleeves for. However few people rebuild or repair Multi Craft drill chucks, they are cheap, easy to replace, and you cannot get rebuild kits, so I am just going to dissemble and clean the Multi Craft drill chuck.

Step 2: Tools

Picture of Tools

A hydraulic press, bearing splitter, and brass spacers would be nice; you can even use a bearing puller to dissemble a plain bearing Jacobs chuck. But if you don’t have these tools, a vice, a brass bushing, and a hammer will do.

You may need a pin punch to push the jaws out of the chuck if they are seized.

Wire brushes for cleaning rust and dirt off the parts; I used a 22 caliber brush from my gun cleaning kit, and a wire wheel on my grinder.

Since I have the spindle and arbors, I will be using a spindle to dissemble the Multi Craft drill chuck.

Step 3: Removing a Good Chuck

Picture of Removing a Good Chuck

See my Instructable Drill Chuck Replacement.

Step 4: Disassembling a Chuck

Picture of Disassembling a Chuck

Whether it is a male mount or a female mount plain bearing chuck; they disassemble in the same manner.

Open or close the jaws of the chuck to about half way.

Adjust the jaws of the vice so they only catch the sleeve of the chuck.

Put the brass bushing over the jaws of the chuck to the body of the chuck and whack it with a hammer.

The sleeve should come right off the chuck and the ring nut should fall out in two pieces. Don’t worry the ring nut is not broken it is made that way.

If the jaws do not slide out of the chuck with ease, use a pin punch to push the jaws out of the chuck body.

Step 5: Clean the Parts

Picture of Clean the Parts

Use only soft wire brushes to clean the parts of the chuck; if you use sandpaper or files you can take the parts out of tolerance and this will ruin the chuck.

After cleaning; inspect the parts, you are looking for chips out of the threads and excessive wear like belling.

Belling is when the grip of the jaws are worn so the chuck will not hold a bit properly and the drill bit warbles. Belling makes a characteristic bell shape in the jaws when the jaws are closed. Looking at the grip of the jaws, the grip of the jaws will be wider at one end then at the other.

If the jaws are belled you may want to buy a rebuild kit.

Step 6: Rebuild Kits

Picture of Rebuild Kits

You can buy rebuild kits from Jacobs or other suppliers all you need is the information on the chuck. However with vintage chucks like this vintage Jacobs, model: MC2G41, 0 - ¼ inch chuck, it is next to impossible to find one.

The rebuild kit will have 3 jaws and 1 split ring nut.

With most of the kits the jaws are marked so you can tell jaw 1 from 2 and 3.

The jaws are numbered so they will align up with the threads of the ring nut when the chuck is assembled. If you look at the threading on the jaws there will be a small step at one end of the threading of jaw 1, a big step on jaw 2, and no step on jaw 3.

Step 7: Assembling the Chuck

Picture of Assembling the Chuck

When you reassemble the chuck; put jaw 1 in one of the jaw slots and going clockwise, put jaw 2 in the next, and put jaw 3 in the next.

Dab a little grease on the threads; I like to use graphite grease, put the ring nut on making sure you do not miss thread the jaws.

Holding the ring nut on with your hand thread the jaws out until they are closed, if you got it right the first time the ends of the jaws will line up.

If the ends of the jaws don't line up; take the ring nut off and switch any two jaws. Then put the ring nut back on and thread the jaws closed. This time the ends of the jaws should line up.

Step 8: Replacing the Sleeve

Picture of Replacing the Sleeve

When the jaws line up place the sleeve over the chuck body and ring nut; make sure the jaws move in unison as you ease the sleeve over the ring nut. The sleeve should almost completely go on the ring nut by hand.

Adjust the jaws of the vice so they catch the ring gear; place the chuck on the vice jaws mouth down and using the brass bushing, tap the sleeve the rest of the way over the ring nut and chuck body.

And there you have it a rebuilt or refurbished plain bearing chuck.

Step 9: Refurbishing a Multi Craft Drill Chuck

Picture of Refurbishing a Multi Craft Drill Chuck

Multi Craft chucks are not made for rebuilding, so most are discarded and the drill or chuck is replaced.

A bearing separator would be nice if you have one; but you can get along without one, just remember whatever you use make sure it only grips the lip of the chucks sleeve.

Again you will just need a couple tools.

Spindle and arbor you can get from a dissembled drill; or a brass pin punch.

A vice

A brass bushing

And a hammer

Step 10: Disassembling a Multi Craft Drill Chuck

Picture of Disassembling a Multi Craft Drill Chuck

I used the spindle from a disassembled drill to remove the sleeve of the Multi Craft drill chuck.

Place the chuck in the vice so the jaws of the vice only catch the sleeve of the chuck.

Hit the spindle with a hammer pushing the sleeve off the split ring nut.

Remove the jaws and clean the chuck the same way as you cleaned the plain bearing chuck.

Step 11: Reassembling a Multi Craft Drill Chuck

Picture of Reassembling a Multi Craft Drill Chuck

The Multi Craft drill chuck reassembles in the same manner as a plain bearing chuck; however the jaws on the Multi Craft chuck are not numbered one to three so, they can be hard to tell apart. The only way to tell 1 from 2 or 3, is to look for the steps in the threads.

Place the chuck on a table mouth down when you reassemble the chuck; put jaw 1 in one of the jaw slots and going counterclockwise, put jaw 2 in the next, and put jaw 3 in the next.

Dab a little grease on the threads and put the ring nut on.

Holding the ring nut on with your hand thread the jaws out until they are closed.

If the ends of the jaws don't line up; take the ring nut off and switch any two jaws. Then put the ring nut back on and thread the jaws closed. This time the ends of the jaws should line up.

Step 12: Replacing the Sleeve

Picture of Replacing the Sleeve

Slip the sleeve on the ring nut as much as you can making sure the hole in the sleeve lines up with the spindle mount.

If the hole in the sleeve doesn’t line up with the spindle mount tap the sleeve lightly until it lines up.

Adjust the jaws of the vice so they support the sleeve of the chuck; but not so tight the jaws will catch the spindle mount when it comes out of the hole in the sleeve.

Place the brass bushing on top of the chuck and tap it with a hammer. The sleeve should slip right on the split ring nut.

And you are done one refurbished Multi Craft drill chuck.


jimofoz (author)2017-01-18

Nice info. If you have a "gritty" feeling chuck, instead of disassembling it, you might want to try cleaning it first. I use very hot water with Simply Green cleaner and WD-40 to flush out the grit. Then some 3in1 oil to lube it after it's dried off.

Josehf Murchison (author)jimofoz2017-01-18

Simply Green is that like CLR?

jimofoz (author)Josehf Murchison2017-01-19

Sorry, it was "simple green." It's a non-toxic cleaner/degreaser. I buy it by the gallon and dilute it in spray bottles or for washing. I use it to clean bicycle chains, tools, plastics, countertops; great for getting pitch off of circular saw blades etc. After cleaning I rinse with very hot water so the metal will dry and then follow up with appropriate lube for whatever I've cleaned. I've been using it for years.

Josehf Murchison (author)jimofoz2017-01-19

Will it remove rust?

jimofoz (author)Josehf Murchison2017-01-19

Not really. It mostly for caked on dirt, old oil, grease and grime. I use it with a brush-old toothbrush, kitchen brush, etc.

jimofoz (author)2017-01-19

It doesn't really remove rust unless you use some kind of abrasive with it. It mostly best for old caked on oil and grime and general dirt.

State50 (author)2017-01-17

I tried taking the chuck off an old, Makita 9V cordless drill. I removed the center screw holding the chuck to the shaft, but couldn't lock the rotor to unscrew the chuck from the shaft.

Josehf Murchison made it! (author)State502017-01-17

Like this one.

Use a large Allen key and a swift hit on the key counterclockwise with a hammer should break the lock on the spindle.

Yeah, that's what I have always done too, with reliably good success. The bigger the Allen key the better, as long as it will fit in the chuck, since you want maximum rigidity. Of course, we are talking about the traditional "L" shaped keys here. Chuck the short end into the chuck and whack the end of the long arm with a metal hammer, not a rubber mallet, since you want the shock of impact to break the thread grip. One strike is usually all it takes and if you leave the key in the chuck it is easier to spin the rest of the way off.

MartinG40 (author)MartinG402017-01-18

PS... forgot to mention that I have never needed to lock up the shaft using this method. If you strike the end of the Allen key sharply, the inertia of the armature, shaft, and chuck body is all the rotational resistance you need for this method to work.

Most of the time I put the tail of the chuck key in the chuck and tap it with a hammer.

Mark 42 (author)State502017-01-17

Sometimes you can break it loose with impact.
Put a piece of drill rod in the chuck key hole, and hit it with a hammer to put a sudden torque.

PhilS43 (author)Mark 422017-01-17

Bad idea

Buggers up the chuck key holes, and a decent drill bit is going to shatter - Chinese rubbish just bends, especially from 200-piece drill sets costing $2 the set.

Find a thin spanner to fit the flats on the shaft, then use the largest right angle Allen key that will fit in the chuck. Tighten, hold the spanner, then whack the Allen key anti-clockwise while holding the spanner, with a soft-faced hammer, assuming a right-hand thread.

Some chucks, especially from impact drills, will never budge.

billyrobot (author)2017-01-17

Nice instructable. I can use this info. My real concern, however, is how in this age of off-shore products to find a drill chuck that actually runs true. I need to be able to drill sub 1mm Ø holes and sometimes the runout is more than the drill diamater

You might like this:

You can rotate the adapter 1 degree at a time until the off center of one chuck cancels the off center of the other.

Those you wont get on a power tool today I have six 0 to 1/4 chucks that are as tight as the spindle. Jacobs Chucks has precision keyless chucks where the max tool size is 0.255 inch and the minimum is 0.000 inch but they are not cheep.

Kuffar (author)2017-01-17

Thanks! Great Instructable. I have, also, always wondered how those were assembled. I have several, that are almost unusable due to concrete dust, and other gritty compounds.

Josehf Murchison (author)Kuffar2017-01-17

Got a PIC.

Mark 42 (author)2017-01-17

Yes, the large allen key is much better idea.

I have an old Dewalt 3/8 which I put a 1/2" chuck on. It lasted many years - finally burnt up... I wanted to put that chuck on the new one I bought, but can't get it off.

I'm thinking maybe an allen (hex) drive for an impact (like for doing brake calipers).
Chuck it up in the drill chuck and use my impact driver to break it loose.

First I need to make sure there is no set screw (it's so full of old grease & debris it's hard to tell for sure)

Josehf Murchison made it! (author)Mark 422017-01-17

I'm just finishing up my next Instructable Chuck adapters. I think you will like it, spray ether in the mouth of the chuck to rid it of grease.

Paul Morrison (author)2017-01-17

Great Great Instructable - I really liked your clear diagrams and photos

Thanks for sharing your knowledge


Paul Morrison (author)2017-01-17

GrahamRounce (author)2017-01-17


domino88 (author)2017-01-17

I had no idea... Learned something new today!! Thank you! :-)

You are welcome.

notingkool (author)2017-01-16

Great instructable! i always wanted to know how to dissasemble this chucks. I have a very old ones that i could repair!

Just remember if you need a rebuild kit for a vintage chuck you will need to hunt for one. And Thanks.

studleylee (author)2017-01-16

Awesome! I have tons of chucks laying around from surplus. This will be very helpful!


Lorddrake (author)2017-01-16

excellent write up. very detailed. keep up the great work


gm280 (author)2017-01-16

Thanks for this project. I always wondered how they were made and assembled. I have a few that I will play around with now. Thumbs Up!

Are the key-less made the same way?

Josehf Murchison (author)gm2802017-01-16

It depends on the keyless.

Most 3 jaw keyless are the same inside, like the one in the link in the intro. Little things will be different but the basic design will be the same.

Check out Jacobs Chucks.

About This Instructable




Bio: I am a photographer, a tinker, an electronics technology engineer, and author; I write short stories and poetry for the love of writing. I started ... More »
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