Most hobby machinists will own some three jawed chuck jaws which they will use on a regular basis.  These types of chuck jaws are the most commonly used and are suitable for a wide range of machining tasks.  However, soft jaws are rarely used with three jawed chucks.  This is most likely down to the fact that when amateur machinists purchase their chucks they look to keep costs down and so decide against also getting the useful accessory.  As time goes by they will look for alternative methods, when soft jaws would be more suitable and eventually be left with an aged chuck that they aren’t sure will be suitable for specific chuck jaws in a catalogue.  However, they are a useful addition, especially when undertaking certain machining jobs.

When you might need them

Whilst soft chuck jaws can be used in various different applications, the most common is to hold a work piece that is quite thin in comparison to its diameter.  A good example would be a disc shaped object, which you are then going to bore a hole into the centre to create a ring like object.  Using hard chuck jaws for such a task could result in the objet becoming misshapen due to the fact that it could not withstand the pressure put on it.  In such instances soft jaws could make machining of this type of part easier.

How they can help

Through the use of careful and accurate machining you are able to adapt your soft jaws so that they are better equipped to hold the object in place, whilst providing support.  This can be done by boring a shallow groove into each individual jaw at the same spot.  As long as the grooves are the appropriate thickness, they should hold the object in place securely without having to tighten the chuck jaws so much that the piece is misshapen.  Whilst this is a very basic use of soft chuck jaws, they can be used in the clamping of more complex items.  So if you have an object that is of a peculiar shape you are able to adept your jaws so that they will hold it securely in place whilst applying equal clamping force.

 

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