Lathe Chuck Cradle

About: Was it you or I who stumbled first? It does not matter, the one of us who soonest finds the strength to rise must help the other. - Vera Nazarian, The Perpetual Calendar of Inspiration

Tired of acting like a three handed monkey when changing lathe chucks, I combined the needs of my metalworking lathe's 4” [102mm]- four jaw and the 3” [72mm]- three jaw types into one positioner. Now it’s safe and easy to attach either of them with the rear screws at just the right height to slip into the spindle plate holes without fear of mishap.

Teacher Notes

Teachers! Did you use this instructable in your classroom?
Add a Teacher Note to share how you incorporated it into your lesson.

Step 1: Two Sizes, One Fixture

Made from scrap 2X [38mm] thick pine wood, I sawed out their profiles after making a cardboard template that matched the height and curvature of the lower portion on each chuck.

Step 2: Gettin' Groovy

The base was double grooved to allow the fixture to span over the lathe bed's prism, that triangular hump that guides the carriage, when rotated for either profile.

Step 3: Parting Thoughts

It is an unpardonable act to drop your chuck on the lathe bed while installing or removing it. Impact marks on the lathe ways are a permanent sign of carelessness; always put something down- a scrap board at least, to protect those high precision surfaces when performing this task.



    • Indoor Lighting Contest

      Indoor Lighting Contest
    • Metal Contest

      Metal Contest
    • Make It Fly Challenge

      Make It Fly Challenge

    9 Discussions


    3 years ago

    This is a great idea! I will make one soon.


    3 years ago on Step 3

    Hurts like crazy when you pinch fingers between heavy metal! Good use of available materials, well thought out and very useful Instructable! Here's a suggestion to preserve the wood, Boiled Linseed Oil. Give it a light sanding, to clean off the dirt it already has and give it a nice even coat. Half an hour later apply another coat and allow to dry for a day! I hope that helps!


    4 years ago on Introduction

    That's a GREAT idea for handling chucks. Our machinist and I often have to wrestle our chucks weighing over 100 pounds onto our shop lathe. It's a metalworking lathe with about 16" swing. We've been considering getting a hoist to help. Now we won't need one. I'm going to build a couple of these cradles tomorrow. Ours will take a little more than some little pine boards to make, but it's the idea that counts. Thanks! No more swearing trying to get those pins lined up while struggling to hold up that weight while reaching over the lathe bed.

    1 reply

    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    It's really gratifying to hear this posting will help overcome a tiresome chore, thanks for the comment.


    4 years ago on Introduction

    I couldn't understand why you bothered making this until I saw how different a chuck for metal working is from the ones used in woodturning.

    Good implementation.

    Prabakar An

    4 years ago

    I don't Understand That Have you Face difficult in Clamping the chuck

    3 replies
    ironsmiterPrabakar An

    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    Mini lathes have a REALLY annoying method of attaching the chuck to the lathe.

    While holding the chuck in place, you must thread 4 nuts onto the chuck studs, using the tiny gap between the headstock and the spindle plate. (see the first image on for an example of the type of gandy dance we usually go through to attach the chuck)

    With this, you now have both hands free to get behind that plate, and thread the nuts onto the chuck studs.

    On larger lathes, it is not a problem, as the chucks themselves thread on.

    Thanks ironsmiter, unless one experiences the "fat finger" syndrome, it's kinda hard to see the point of this fixture.

    Mini lathes, and other types can have studs, or threaded rod projecting from the rear of the chuck, these studs align with mating holes in the main spindle mounting plate, and have very little room to attach retainer nuts, so this fixture holds the chuck in the proper position against the spindle plate while freeing up both hands to secure it with the nuts.