I've never used the royal ones, but I might suggest that you keep your eyes peeled on ebay - 5C tooling is probably the most common used in industry today, so there's a lot of serviceable stuff that gets sold.
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Paul, I have been there done that. I have a lot of collets in my shop, and can't afford to buy premium quality. Let's see .. I have 3C, 5C, R8, ER40, and 2 kinds of Jacobs rubberflex, one for the tapping heads and one for the spindle nose lathe chuck.
Anyway, I bought a set from Grizzly
quite some time ago. Although I have heard a lot of stories about poor quality on import collets, I didn't see any problems with mine. I don't use them a whole lot, mostly in collet blocks or a 5C indexing head, but they seem fine to me. I suggest you buy a cheap set like these and try them out. One of the things about Grizzly as a company is that if your collets had a lot of runout when you got them, they are real good about refunding your money.
Anyway, the next step up is Lyndex. My R8 collets are made by them. They are Japanese and budget but not dirt cheap. They also work fine.
Grant Erw> I've finally got my hands on a lathe that is set up for 5C collets so I need
The cheap ones tend to be undersized, oversized and a little eccentric. Buy the best you can afford. There is nothing wrong with Royal, Hardinge & Lyndex and they can often be bought used at decent prices. Make sure you are getting modern ones that have ID threads if you are paying over $6-8. ea. for them. The biggest bang for the buck in the premium collets is Hardinge. Despite their high prices they are at least as accurate as any other and cheaper then Lyndex and Royal. I have had some real crap from Yuasa and cheapistan collets are not allowed in the shop. I don't beleive in scrapping parts due to crappy tooling. Leigh@MarMachine
I'll second that. I've got mostly Royal, Lyndex, and Hardinge, Hardinge being the best of them. Also have a few Fowler and Neal Skokie, both German made. Sometimes you can get "cheap" tooling and rework something kinda junky into a better piece, but not with collets. Clamp some undersize stock with a POS collet and it'll be resized for you! Get decent collets and you will not wish you hadn't. Get shit ones and you will wish you hadn't.
It has taken me almost three years, but I now have a complete set of 5C collets: Round by 1/64 from 1/32 to 1-1/8 Squares, full set by 1/16th Hex, full set by 1/16 Internals from 1/4 to 4" Pot collets, from 1" to 6" Brass and steel machineable collets, collet stops, etc. It may seem lot a lot, but it wasn't all that expensive. Here are some things I learned along the way:
Buy your basic set new. That is, typically, a set by 1/16from 1/16 to
1-1/8. These are the most used sizes and they tend to get beat up a lot. I rarely found used ones worth buying. A basic set often goes on sale for as little as $50. Mine were Lindex.
Be sure to check all collets for correct diameter and run out. You'd be amazed at the frequency with which some rejected collets makes it on the street.
All collets should have internal threads for putting in a collet stop. You rarely use it -- but when you do, it is highly appreciated. Most reasonably new collets are internally threaded.
I have gotten most of my collets by regular haunting of local used machinery stores. Often, the collets are just in big bins. Negotiate the price in advance. For example, "How about .00/collet -- anything goes." Keep a list of what you are missing in your wallet. That way, when you see a bargain, you jump on it. Same with flea markets and house sales.
I've made several great, gloatworthy, collet buys by examining newly arrived lathes at the used machinery place. I see a really beat-up, sorry l ooking lathe with a nice set of collets. I negotiated most of my squares and hexes that way. Buying a set like that was usually in the -/collet range. Includng Hardinge's and Royals. But be prepared to pay top dollar for that missing hex or square (e.g., 1/4", 3/8", 1/2" and other popular sizes).
In buying internal (machinable) collets and machinable pot collets, be sure that the ones you buy have plenty of meat on them. No point in buying a pot collet that's been machined down to 1/8 thick.
Buy duplicates in popular sizes (e.g. by 1/8, by 1/4) whenever you can find them new and cheap. That way you won't feel too bad when you ruin one -- as you will.
Collet collecting is something like stamp collecting. There's a terrible urge to fill out complete sets. I did that with my 3c's (for my 9" SB and my Burke vertical attachment) and MT2's for my centex mill and rotary tables. Now I'm working to upgrade my various Taiwanese to something better, like royals and hardinges (with a few Bucks and SB thrown in) -- then to a totally Royal set, then to ..... In these parts, I am sometimes known as "The Collet Man."
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