Woodturning #3: Tools for woodturning - Purchased Rockler Full Size Carbide tools and Sorby SpindleMaster

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Blog entry by DW833 posted 02-04-2015 04:54 AM 2189 reads 0 times favorited 3 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 2: I have a lathe, now what do I do? Part 3 of Woodturning series Part 4: First turning on new lathe »

I researched several lathe tools to use on the new lathe. I thought the carbide tipped tools would be great for a beginning turner. Reviews of these tools were mostly positive. The easy wood tools were my first choice. But do not have the budget for them. Shop made versions are popular and many LJers have made them. I started making plans to purchase materials to make my own. Since I haven’t worked with metal much, I was concerned about the end result if I made them.

However, Rockler had a sale on their versions of the carbide tipped tools. Purchased them at $60 each. Got the square, round and detail versions. Although the cost for each is more than the estimated cost of $20-30 for shop made versions, I purchased them instead. I’m glad I did. I received the square one and the other two are on back order for awhile. That is no surprise at that price. I haven’t used it yet. I’m impressed with the general appearance and quality. Looks and feels like a high quality tool. I’ll post a review after I’ve used them.

I also purchased a 1/2” Sorby spindlemaster tool. I purchased this because I wanted a traditional tool to go along with the carbide tools. The advantage of the spindlemaster is that sharpening it is easy. Just sharpen the flat edge. The ground edge doesn’t have to be sharpened much if at all if it isn’t damaged. I’ll see how that works out. I may pick up other traditional tools in the future.

Finally, I’ve watched several videos on how to use lathe tools. Most of them use traditional tools. Wish I had a resource for which carbide tool to use for the same task. Along with how to use it. At this point, it is something I’ll have to find out by using the tools.

Thanks to all the LJers that answered my questions on lathes and tools.

3 comments so far

View Cyrus Fillmore's profile

Cyrus Fillmore

27 posts in 2465 days

#1 posted 02-05-2015 04:22 AM

Well maybe I’m a bit old fashion but, I would think a decent 5 or 6 piece set of HSS lathe tools would be a good thing to start with.
In m experience Carbide cutters are basically scrapers that sty sharp longer. The problem with the scraper is it will never leave as smooth a finish as a good sharp Skew or Spindle gouge, as these tools cut instead of scrape.
I remember when I first got comfortable with a Skew (it takes a bit to get the hang of one) the finish it left was so smooth I wondered why I didn’t learn to use it sooner. Now I use them for spindle work 90% of the time.

You can pick up sets of HSS tools for 90 to 120 that are more than adequate for beginners. I recommend it highly.

View Sawdustonmyshoulder's profile


489 posts in 4837 days

#2 posted 02-09-2015 12:21 PM

Looking back on my turning journey, I believe that with all woodworking, SHARPENING is the first step. Learning to sharpen your tools whether it’s turning tools, plane irons, chisels, or machine blades, will allow you to concentrate on woodworking and cut down on frustrations associated with your tools not performing at their best. I do know that with the traditional HSS tools, your turning journey will be over in about 10 minutes because your tools get dull very fast.

The Easy Wood Tools do allow you to keep sharp tools longer and eliminate the sharpening tasks associated with turning. The tools are a bit pricy but they are top quality and there is no substitute for that. Now you will still need some of the traditional tools because even though the EWT do a lot; they don’t do it all. I do find that since the technique of use is so straightforward, I am able to concentrate on the design of the turning.

To wrap up this comment, I would offer this advice: Get a basic set of HSS tools. Learn to sharpen them and learn basic techniques associated with each one of them (this may take several years). Use your carbide bladed tools to get your turnings done and enjoy turning. Don’t feel guilty for using them instead of the traditional tools… when your family and friends look at the table legs, they will never know what tool you used to make them. You could have used a drill press and a sharpened hatchet for all they know.

-- The more skilled you are at something, the worse you are at it when someone is watching.

View DW833's profile


245 posts in 3091 days

#3 posted 02-10-2015 04:22 AM

Thanks for the suggestions.

Ended up with some Rockler carbide tipped tools. Two are back ordered. The square rougher has arrived.
Practiced some with it. It is a nice tool and glad I got it. Also, got a 1/2 Sorby spindlemaster tool.
I’ve used it some and it is also easy to use. Sharpening is easy. Only the flat edge is sharpened.

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