Drill Chuck and Key Sizes –What Size Do You Need for Great Performance?

The most important thing after buying a drill machine is to select an appropriate chuck size and key. Not all the people need chucks of the same size. Depending on the types of work, the professionals and non-professionals require different sizes of the chuck.

However, another essential aspect of drilling is to get a suitable chuck key. Chuck key influences the chuck, and the chuck influences the jaws to rotate. Therefore, choosing the right key for the chuck is equally important.

If you are confused about what chuck size and key you need to go with, time for you to sit comfortably and read this article that will have information about drill chuck sizes and chuck key for better drill-work.

What is Chuck Size?

If you already own a drill or doing some research on the internet, you probably came across the word chuck size. It indicates the maximum shank’s diameter which holds the chuck.

There are hexagonal and straight shanks. A hexagonal shank is measured across the flats. While on the other hand, a straight shank is measured from anywhere along its circumference.

The capacity of a chuck indicates the space between the chuck and open jaws that refer to the maximum shaft on the drill.

When you are about to buy bits for your drill, you will need to consider both the size its capacity. If the chuck is going to hold the bit, then it is obvious that the bit needs to match with both the size and capacity of the chuck; simple as that.

What Chuck Size Do You Need?

When you have the idea about what the size of the chuck means, then the next question would be, what chuck size do you need?

Unfortunately, chuck doesn't come with a wide range of its sizes. It only has two sizes to choose from. No matter, whether you need to work with a small bit or a large one, you only got two options to go with.

Chuck size of 10mm which is about 3/8 inches, is used for smaller bits. On the other hand, 13mm or ½ inches chuck is for larger bits.

More precisely, if you need a larger bit, it would require a bigger shank; in this case, you need to go with a chuck of larger size which is 13mm. But if a smaller size of a bit is what you want, that requires a smaller shank, then you can go with 11mm chuck.

Still confused?

Read through again. When I was introduced with these measurements for the first time, I was confused too. But then I read for a couple of times more, and the matter was crystal clear for me.

What is Chuck Key?

A chuck key is an object that is attached to the chuck. This key provides torque to the chuck and tightly clamps the jaws providing a good grip on the bit. That’s why if you have an appropriate chuck key, it will not let the bit slip away, and you will not feel the bit free from the jaws.

What Chuck Key Do You Need?

Although a chuck key is a small part of your drilling machine, do not underestimate the power of chuck key. If you lost the key, you would not be able to run your work any further, especially if cannot change the bit. So, if you lost the key, you have no other option but purchase another one.

Choosing a right chuck key is essential for drilling. No matter how good the jaws perform, and how well your chuck functions; if you do not have an appropriate key, your drilling machine will not provide you with expected performance. 

How to Size Chuck Key?

You can easily determine the size of the chuck key that suits your chunk in three steps.

First, look for any engraved numbers at the chuck. The numbers will be similar to 1/2, 1/4, 3/8, etc.

Then measure the diameter of the chuck hole using a ruler. It is known as the pilot shank.

Note down the bit size and the diameter of the chuck hole, and go to your nearby hardware store and handover these measurements to the salesman. He will find you an appropriate key for the chuck.

Installing a Drill Chuck

Now it’s time to install a chuck to the drill machine. Before proceeding, you need to determine the type of your chuck first.

First, you need to open the jaws and check the base of the chuck. You might need a flashlight to see clearly. If there is a screw at the bottom position of the chuck, find a suitable wrench to remove the screws. If you find screws, you can continue following this procedure.

But if you don't see any screw at its bottom, the steps aren't for you to follow.

Remove the Old Chuck

Before removing the chuck, you need to remove the screws first. With the help of a screwdriver or wrench, rotate the screw clockwise and make sure you are holding the chuck firmly with your other hand for removing the set screw.

An allen wrench can do this job easily. Tighten the short side of the screwdriver into the chuck. If the drill is of two-speed settings, the flip switch should be at its low speed. And if the machine has chuck clutch, the clutch needs to be set on its highest settings.

Furthermore, the indicator of the drill direction should be forward.

Now, hold the machine firmly on a table with your left hand. Take the allen wrench at 45-degree angle and be sure to point it towards your body. Next, use a hammer to give a whack to the wrench.

Here you go, the chuck is separated from the spindle. Rotate the spindle off counter-clockwise.

Get A New Chuck and Install

After removing the old chuck from the spindle, measure the spindle in order to purchase a matching chuck. Now, set the position of the threads of the chuck on the spindle. Then spin it clockwise until the spindle tightened your hand.

After opening the jaws of chuck, screw the nuts and bolts into the hole at the chuck's base and tighten the nuts and bolts into their places.

What if the Chuck is Damaged?

If your chuck is already damaged, in that case, place the key into the chuck and use a rubber mallet to hit the key as hard as you can.

There is another way that you can follow. Lock a larger pair of locking pliers on a frozen chuck. Then smack the screwdriver with a rubber mallet. Once it is loose, you can spin the chuck off.

Final Words

Hopefully, after reading this article, you are no longer confused with the size of drill chuck and its key. Regardless of your drill-work requirements, you will be able to choose a chuck of the right size and a key that will match your chuck.

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