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Why do I have to loosen my router collet twice?

Q:

When I loosen my router’s collet nut, the collet won’t release the bit. I have to turn the nut by hand almost two full turns, and then the nut tightens again. Then I have to use the wrenches again to loosen the nut and free the bit. Do I have a problem?
—John Frey, Berryville, Ark.

A:

Relax, John. The free travel in the collet nut doesn’t signal a problem. It’s called a self-releasing collet, and it’s a good feature. Inside a self-releasing collet, the collet nut flange pushes the collet into the tapered hole at the end of the router spindle, tightening the collet on the bit. Loosening the nut to remove a bit allows the nut to spin within the collet recess. But the collet and bit remain wedged within the spindle until the nut flange pushes up on the collet, popping the collet loose.

If you don’t notice this sort of play in the collet nut, that could be a problem. It could mean you’ve placed the bit too deep within the collet, preventing the collet jaws from gripping the bit shank. Avoid this problem by always keeping bits about 116 " from the bottom of the spindle.

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