View Full Version : To Lube or not to Lube, That is the Question!

08-09-2007, 07:43 PM
My threee jaw chuck was getting hard to turn and finally it "locked up" and wouldn't adjust. I took it apart, probably the first time it has been disassemblied in its 60 plus years of existance. I got a sizable pile of chips out of the inside and from the threads.

Now that is reassembly time, do I lubricate the ring gear and pinions or leave them dry? Keeping them dry would prevent chips from collecting in the lubricant but then the lubrication will make the gears run smoother.

Since I'm in a quandry, I will ask the advice of the sages of this network. Thanks for advice in advance.


08-09-2007, 08:04 PM
I oil my chucks with motor oil as I reassemble them. JIM

08-09-2007, 08:58 PM
For the ring gear and pinions, I use a good coating of a thick black, moly based disk brake grease. It stays in place with minimal sling off over time, just a slight oozing around the pinions. For the scroll, I use way lube but others prefer either a lighter oil or graphite. After oiling, I run it for a few minutes at several thousand RPM to sling out whatever excess is present. Den

Forrest Addy
08-09-2007, 09:33 PM
No brainer for people with rough acting chucks. When they get sticky and hard to operate, take it apart and clean it up. It aint rocket science. A chuck has only a half dozen or a dozen parts and will go together only one way. Lightly stone if need be. Pick out imbeded debris with a scribe.

For lube, use a clear oil you don't mind being sprayed with (a chuck is an excellent centrifugal sprayer). Any oil is preferable to no oil. Grease is sticky. It will pick up chips and hold them forever so the scroll can grind them into the body clearance.

08-09-2007, 10:11 PM
my 3 jaw has a grease fitting. so i guess it is suppose to have a shot of grease now and then and that is what it gets.

J Tiers
08-09-2007, 11:22 PM
I do exactly what nheng does. It works very well, and does NOT pick up chips, nor sling out anything. The only stuff slung is cutting oil off the workpieces.

Chucks should be taken apart every so often and cleaned out.

08-10-2007, 01:01 AM
I use Gold Chuck Lube from WorldWide Chuck Services. It's basically an NGLI 2 grease that's heavily loaded with molybdenum disulfide and a ton of tackifiers.
So although it's a grease, it absolutely doesn't sling, but it still provides rust protection (which graphite and pure moly doesn't). It sounds a lot like Nheng's
disk grease, but it's specific for lathe chucks.

Kitagawa will actually extend the manufacturer's warranty if you use this grease on their chucks.

Mike W
08-10-2007, 01:17 AM
I took apart my Cushman on my 1950's Clausing 6300. The chuck probably came with it. The chuck was very stiff to operate. There was a silver colored grease inside. I cleaned it up and used some thing else to lube it. It was easy to turn after that.

08-10-2007, 09:58 AM
.....a silver colored grease inside.....

Possibly someone thought Never-seize would make a good lubricant.

08-10-2007, 10:08 AM
Motorcycle chain lube in a spray can is good. It's designed not to sling off.

A.K. Boomer
08-10-2007, 11:17 AM
Its almost like the more you take care of the lube "slinging out" of the chuck you create another problem, You used something really "tacky", this means that it will stay put --- along with any chip that it comes in contact with, but even a dry chuck can hold chips just do to the centrifugal force constantly packing them into the scroll and jaws,,, I change my jaws from outer to inner and back enough that anytime I do so I also rotate the scroll and use a big blast of compressed air at them (not at where they mate to the chuck base though)
I use mobile one synthetic grease, just a light coating every once in awhile, I think at least with this topic its not as much what you use because whatever it is its kinda a double edge sword, its how clean you keep your chuck...

There is a Molly D that goes on wet and drys to form a tough non tacky film, it would keep the chip build up to a minimum but would have to be aplied allot more often.

There are also some really tacky lubes, but so tacky that when you go to blow out the chips they wont want to leave....

Even if you rarely lube you will be hard pressed to get a chuck to "run dry"
They will always have a thin layer of oil on them even if its mixed in with cutting fluid, the galling that takes place usually isnt from lack of lube as much as its from munching up hardened chips between the two surfaces...

Think what a chuck would look like if all you ever did was plastic with it (but still kept it lubed once in a great while ((or all the time with clean cutting fluid even though thats not the practice with plastic)), and although your clamping pressure is most likely going to be lower you would have a chuck that would last forever without any wear to speak of.

08-10-2007, 02:26 PM
Try a dry gun lube.

08-10-2007, 02:38 PM
They make a "chuck grease". Not tacky, but more like a sort of pipe dope type stuff. Never used it, but seen it recommended.

I've tried several different, often messy solutions. White Lith seems to work well when used sparingly. Lately, I just assembly with Vactra on the scroll (or screws) and wipe away most of the excess so it does not sling too terribly. And I use white lith behind the scroll and on the pinions of 2 jaws. Probably not "the best", but works well enough it seems.

I bought some "dry slide" specifically for chucks, but then never used it for chucks. <shrug>

08-10-2007, 03:22 PM
They make a "chuck grease". Not tacky, but more like a sort of pipe dope type stuff. Never used it, but seen it recommended.

Read 6 posts up BadDog :)


It's extremely tacky, by the way...

08-10-2007, 06:37 PM
Hmm, ok, maybe I misunderstood. I was under the impression it was very cohesive but not tacky, specifically designed for use in the scroll and not supposed to add to chip retention. Basically, the stuff I was talking about was explained to me as something that was dry(ish) to the touch and would stay in place, went on thin (and dried/set?) more from mechanical properties rather than tac. No idea how that works, if it exists, the guy explained it wrong or didn't understand, or perhaps I didn't understand/remember correctly. But my recollection is that it was not like a regular grease and was very low tac. <shrug> But that's why I said "seen recommended", as I have absolutely no personal experience with such stuff (if it exists).

08-10-2007, 06:45 PM
I have this stuff:


It's basically grease that's loaded with moly and and overdose of tackifiers. It sounds a lot like the brake disk grease that Nheng uses.

I got one of the 16 oz grease tubes -- I can send you a cup of it if you want to try it. It'll last forever in a home shop...

They also carry the Kitagawa brand chuck grease -- sounds like the same stuff:


08-10-2007, 07:09 PM
In production and job shops I find chucks get sticky if you are boring large parts in cast iron or bronze or any stuff that messy the scroll gets crap in it.

I have never put any grease or oil on a chuck unless it was behind the scroll plate and then all we did is pack it full of the food grade white grease so there is no space for chips to live.

On a good chuck I use some graphite stuff like used in locks and skate boards as a lubricant on the pinions, thats all. they are bound to get some oil and coolent in them if you use them but thats not a problem if you tear them down and clean them up 2 times a year.

grease in the chuck is not the problem, its all the slivers of metal that can work thier way inside stuck to the grease that can gaul up a chuck and force you to take it apart.

take extra care of a chuck, pack the insides of the jaw slots with paper towels if turning or boring large peices of cast iron,brass,bronze or any other dusty, slivery type chip. afterwards you pull out the paper and 99% of the grunge and save yourself a chuck tear down.

08-11-2007, 12:37 AM
my 3 jaw has a grease fitting. so i guess it is suppose to have a shot of grease now and then and that is what it gets.
Bob in recent posts we discussed the grease type fittings. If memory serves me right they are actually oil fittings. There is a special hose for them. A few here posted plans for making one. I agree with the others about not using grease as it will catch everything and not let go. Will wear things you do not want worn.

08-11-2007, 10:22 AM
On my three jaw scroll chucks I always put grease on the pinion and ring gear to help them turn well. Then I put a good coat of grease or heavy oil on the scroll and jaws so that they will hold the dirt and chips and help to lock up the chuck.

That way I get to tear it down again real soon and clean it up and start the process over again.