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Like most woodworkers, we here at Popular Woodworking are fond of our cordless drill/drivers. So when two officials from Jacobs Chuck Manufacturing Co. showed up in our offices last week to show off a new aftermarket keyless chuck, they had our complete attention.

And it didn’t hurt that the Jacobs officials also turned their little demonstration into a contest among the editors. First a bit about the new SoftGrip chucks, then I’ll tell you about the contest.

The SoftGrip chuck replaces your stock chuck on your cordless drill, no matter if it’s a 3/8″ or 1/2″ chuck, single-sleeve or double-sleeve. There are a number of advantages to the SoftGrip that are both obvious and unexpected.

The chuck is noticeably easier to close than a hard metal or smooth plastic chuck. And that’s thanks to its soft, nubby, almost gummy-worm-like feel. You can really get a grip on the chuck to close it on the bit, which is great for anyone who suffers from arthritis or anything else that reduces his or her grip.

The soft grip isn’t just something molded onto the outside of the chuck. It’s integrated into the structure of the chuck using a proprietary double-injection molding process, according to Mike Goodson, the core products development manager for Jacobs.

What that means for you and me is that the soft surface isn’t going to peel off in use.

The SoftGrip can be lighter in weight than your stock chuck. For example, our stock Makita chuck weighs 9.2 ounces and the SoftGrip 3000 series chuck for that drill weighs 5.6 ounces. That weight difference is noticeable when you hold the drill and can also increase your drill’s run-time by about 10 percent, according to James Hou, the product marketing manager.

However, the weight savings are mostly in the SoftGrip 3000 series of chucks, which uses more aluminum in its construction. The industrial version of the SoftGrip, the 6000 series, has more steel in its construction, which of course adds weight. Our stock Hitachi chuck weighs 9.3 ounces. The SoftGrip 6000 replacement weighs 10.2 ounces.

The only other consideration with the SoftGrip is that you have to get your old chuck off. Sometimes this is easy, and sometimes it is not, as I found out as I replaced the chucks on several drills. Here’s the drill (sorry ’bout that): Remove the screw inside the chuck that secures it to the drill motor. It’s a reverse-thread screw, so it’s righty-loosey. Then you chuck a large Allen wrench into the jaws of the drill and knock the Allen wrench with a hammer to spin the chuck counterclockwise. This loosens the chuck and you then unscrew it off. Adding the SoftGrip is even easier (instructions are included).

Clamping the drill to the bench made it much easier for one editor to remove the chuck.

I had no problems replacing the chuck on our Milwaukee and Hitachi drills. Our Makitas gave us a little bit of a fight, but after a few love taps the chuck came loose. But the Ridgid drill simply refused. Everyone tried it last week (we even fetched former Senior Editor David Thiel , a brute , to try it). This morning Senior Editor Robert W. Lang and I gave it another try.

We got the chuck off, along with the drill’s clutch assembly, spilling ball bearings everywhere. Not good. Perhaps our chuck was torqued on by a particularly sprightly robot. Who knows? So do take care when removing your chuck.

Now about that contest: The Jacobs officials had each editor tighten a stock chuck and measured how much input torque he or she managed to apply to the chuck. Then each editor did the same test with a SoftGrip chuck and measured the input torque, which was much higher. That means the SoftGrip gives you a better grip for the same amount of work. Here are the before-and-after numbers , though I’ve changed the names to protect the editors’ identities:

1. Editor with Ponytail: Stock chuck: 83.7 in./lbs.   SoftGrip: 88 in./lbs.
2. Editor with Gloves On: Stock chuck: 83.1 in./lbs.   SoftGrip: 175.2 in./lbs.
3. Editor with Fiery Hair and Temper: Stock chuck: 47 in./lbs.   SoftGrip: 69.4 in./lbs.
4. Editor with “Little Girl Hands:” Stock chuck: 89.5 in./lbs.   SoftGrip: 176.1 in./lbs.

Bottom line: We like these chucks and are now testing them for durability in the shop. The chucks are now available from Home Depot and Lowe’s for about $25 to $32, depending on the model.

– Christopher Schwarz

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Showing 19 comments
  • John


    These are not to be found anywhere. Danaher(Jacobs)
    is no help, explaining(?) that these chucks are
    (the best i can figure) house brands at Lowes and
    HD. It would be nice to find a 1/2" 6000 in a 3/8-24 (Panasonic), but i don’t think it is going to happen.

  • James Hou

    Just traveling back from a show and saw Ken’s comment. (I am sorry that I didn’t get your message until today.) The proper chuck to fit your 3/8" Hitachi drill should be Jacobs 3000 Series 3/8" chuck with 3/8"-24 threaded mount. You can go to Home Depot and look for the P/N: 31050 (Blue and yellow color).

    Currently Jacobs offers following SoftGrip chucks to the aftermarket:
    1. 6000 Series–1/2" Capacity single sleeve chuck with 1/2"-20 threaded mount. (suitable for 1/2" drills with spindle lock.)
    2. 3000 Series–1/2" Capacity double sleeve chuck with 1/2"-20 threaded mount. (suitable for 1/2" drills without spindle lock or 3/8" drills with 1/2"-20 threaded mount)
    3. 3000 Series–3/8" Capacity double sleeve chuck with 3/8"-24 threaded mount. (suitable for 3/8" drills without spindle lock.)

    Hope this info helps.

    James Hou

  • Ken Smith

    Great timing! I have a Hitachi 3/8 drill (perfect size and weight for my use) but with a chuck that slips no matter how tight I get it. I can’t seem to find these in my local Lowes or HD. I came accross something that looks like the 3000 series but wasn’t identified on the packaging. The color and pricing were not as described. I would prefer the 6000 series anyway. Does anyone know if that model is available in a 3/8 inch size. The Jacobs web site is of no help and I have not heard back from their product manager. By the way, the Hitachi folks never returned my e-mail either… I am beginning to feel rejected… : )

  • Steve Spear

    So how tight do you have to tighten bits into the chuck to be safe?


  • Ron Boe

    I’ve found that I commit too many gaffs so it’s best to just go for it so they expect these smart comments. I get into less trouble as they expect them now. :^) Married, no kids – but lots of pets.

    I’m thinking the Rigid had some sort of evil thread locking compound; some are truly evil. I also think us skinny armed guys are under estimated a bit too much – may as well keep it up.

    Now we need a version for the drill press. That would be cool!

  • Michael Rogen


    You’re married and have two daughters. You really should know better.
    I hate to bring it up but this could lead to all new spin-offs of Wives against Schwarz.

    I’m in your corner through thick and thin!


  • megan fitzpatrick

    Actually, around here the question is, "Does this shop apron make me look fat?" And, yes, Chris is now buried deeply…

  • Jon Johnson

    I understood what you meant the first time, Chris…but I think you dug yourself a deeper pit trying to explain it!!

    Rule #1: There is no correct answer to the question "Does this dress (slacks, sweater,etc) make me look fat?"

    Concerning retro-fit drill chucks, those thread pitches are long-standing de facto standards and should fit virtually ALL drills sold in the US since the early 1970’s. You may be out of luck on your grandfather’s all cast-metal 1920 Black & Decker D-handle, however.

  • Christopher Schwarz

    OK, here I am 39 years old and still incapable of communicating with women.

    What I was trying to say in my message above is that the photo of Megan on our staff page is not flattering because it is a couple years old.

    Note to self: It will be much safer never to discuss women again. Or even to acknowledge (publicly) that there are two genders.

    Chris, who is going back to the shop now.

  • Chris Schwarz

    That photo of Megan is a couple years old. Her "Fix My Dang Old House Workout Plan" has been a great success.


  • dave brown


    Here’s a link to PopWood’s staff bios:


  • David Keller

    One of these days you’re going to have pin Megan in a corner and get her to post a photo. It’s not fair that you and the other contributors/editors in Pop Woodworking have to show their "good side" in photos in the first part of the mag, but Megan doesn’t….


    Raleigh NC

  • Christopher Schwarz

    Jacobs offers the chucks in both 1/2" x 20 and 3/8" x 24 mounts. I’m not sure how far backwards compatible chucks are. It’s worth checking you drill’s manual or taking the chuck off to investigate.


  • Michael Rogen

    Well I must say that I’m quite impressed with your numbers Chris. Did you perhaps forget to wipe off any lubricant on the first go-round because doubling your score is quite impressive. have you set all of your planes to 62*?
    My real question is will these new chucks work on my 12 year old Makita or is there a limit on how far back they go?


  • megan

    In my defense…that picture of my dining room on my "bad patch" entry? I had torn up all the parquet flooring and underlayment that was on it but the day before, and my poor little hands hurt 😉 But I suspect no matter how riled, I’d still lose to the guys.

  • Rob Porcaro

    Well obviously the Gloves guy cheated his way into second place – he had his GLOVES on of course. Next time, get the Fiery editor a little mad first, then it’ll be NO contest. (Go Megan.)

  • T. Warner

    I put one of these on my compact Makita 18V and I’ll never change it again. It works great. I was worried about the durability of the sleeve, but have had no problems with it despite my abuse. GREAT CHUCK!

  • Christopher Schwarz

    My good grip is either from handplaning or from strangling my children after one too many episodes of Teletubbies.

    Again again!

    Gun please.


  • dave brown

    Wow, I see that the editor with "little girl hands" has the strongest grip. Impressive!

    (must be all muscle memory from handplaning) 😉



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