Lathe tool question


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4 minutes ago, collinb said:

Is it best to start with

(a) an inexpensive full set of tools


(b) two or three nicer carbide tools and grow the set over time?


If not (a), why? Convenience only? Or is there a qualitative usage difference?

If (b) what are the basic tools one starts with?

My opinion:  

2 carbide tools, a radius square and a round.  And a parting tool that can be high speed steel or carbide (though a HSS parting tool will require a means of sharpening).

Go with carbide or high speed steel and avoid high carbon steel for turning tools.  

The learning curve on carbide tools is much shorter than for traditional HSS. 

Carbon steel does not hold an edge long in this application and easily looses its temper on a grinder.  HSS holds an edge well, and grinds well, but will still need resharpening during the course of any single turning.  Carbide holds its edge through multiple projects.  Then you replace the cutter.  

There are things that you can do with traditional HSS tools that are more difficult with Carbide, and vice versa.  You will eventually want some good HSS tools, but that is not where I would suggest starting, particularly if you don't have a big budget and don't already have a set up for sharpening lathe tools.

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I bought the set of six HSS tools from HF. In addition, I bought a bowl gouge at our Christmas party last year-  have only used it to try it. But I only use the 3/4 roughing gouge, spindle gouge, and the parting tool. I hear a lot of good about the carbide tools. When one part gets dull, turn the blade to a new spot.  I have a friend who is an expert turner and recommends Hunter tools. Lots of tools to make a decision.

I do have a sharpening system for the HSS tools.

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