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View eflanders's profile

Carbide vs. HSS tools

by eflanders
posted 08-30-2016 01:37 AM


31 replies so far

View TheDane's profile

TheDane

5637 posts in 4027 days


#1 posted 08-30-2016 01:51 AM

Carl Jacobson recently did a video on this … https://youtu.be/ejCnWgeXZcE

I personally prefer HSS tools … I get cleaner cuts with them. I do use carbides for some situations, mostly roughing out bowls and hollowing vessels.

-- Gerry -- "I don't plan to ever really grow up ... I'm just going to learn how to act in public!"

View nightguy's profile

nightguy

213 posts in 1026 days


#2 posted 08-30-2016 01:55 AM

Carbide last long between any sharpening or change of replaceable bits, but you cant get carbide as sharp as good HHS once you learn to sharpen, as a turner you will have to learn that, it comes with turning.
As previous stated, carbide has its uses, roughing, but sharp, good HSS, will give you a better end finish.

View waho6o9's profile

waho6o9

8639 posts in 2940 days


#3 posted 08-30-2016 02:32 AM

http://thompsonlathetools.com

The reason why these cut so well is because they use the best steel for the job. I only have one of them but it’s a night and day difference between the Sorbys and Benjamin Best tools that I do use as well.

No carbides in my shop so I can’t attest to their usefulness.

Have fun on your journey and ride that bevel.

View Woodknack's profile

Woodknack

12778 posts in 2744 days


#4 posted 08-30-2016 04:32 AM



carbide tools, or get a CBN

- eflanders

Given an either or … CBN. I like carbide for roughing and for very hard, abrasive, woods like ipe, cumaru; they are also good for brass and aluminum. But you’ll get a better finish with steel tools and gouges are faster at roughing than carbide, imo.

-- Rick M, http://thewoodknack.blogspot.com/

View MadMark's profile

MadMark

979 posts in 1817 days


#5 posted 08-30-2016 04:37 AM

Carbide.

M

-- Madmark - [email protected] Wiretreefarm.com

View oldnovice's profile

oldnovice

7475 posts in 3731 days


#6 posted 08-30-2016 06:31 AM

I don’t do any turning but I am a routerholic and HSS provides a cleaner cut.
I only use carbide on materials that eat HSS, such as Corian and the like.

-- "I never met a board I didn't like!"

View HokieKen's profile

HokieKen

9254 posts in 1502 days


#7 posted 08-30-2016 09:08 AM

These guys pretty well covered it. Carbide is harder and will keep it’s edge longer. There’s always a trade-off though and in the case of carbide, it’s sharpness. Because it’s so hard, it’s also brittle and the grain structure prevents getting as close to a zero-radius edge as HSS.

-- Kenny, SW VA, Go Hokies!!!

View Wildwood's profile

Wildwood

2626 posts in 2498 days


#8 posted 08-30-2016 10:25 AM

The only point not brought up is initial cost of carbide tools & cutter replacement over HSS tools. Yes can certainly buy some steel and make your own carbide tools and save a few bucks but cutters & replacements not cheap.

You can touch up those non-HSS tools you have now by hand with a stone. A bench grinder or belt sander would be faster. Just don’t buy your grinder at HF they don’t seem to last.

Hardest thing for me was getting the same bevel angle at the grinder so bought intermediate Wolverine jig set. Lot of people start out with the Basic Set! I can freehand sharpen now but still use my jig. You can find Wolverine systems at many places but prices about the same.

http://www.packardwoodworks.com/Merchant2/merchant.mvc?Screen=PROD&Store_Code=packard&Product_Code=142629&Category_Code=sharp-wss

There are other sharpening jigs on the market today and lot of people make their own. I made several jigs before biting the bullet and picked up Wolverine system.

Think we have someone here that uses a Wolverine system on their belt sander, but that’s above my pay grade!

-- Bill

View Redoak49's profile

Redoak49

3927 posts in 2352 days


#9 posted 08-30-2016 11:08 AM

It is amazing how fast turning costs add up. Yes, Sorby tools are great and expensive. All of the Wolverine jigs are not cheap and the same for CBN wheels.

Turning is fun but you can spend $$$$.

I posted a project of the 4 carbide tools that I made and they were less than one Sorby tool. I also have some old Craftsman turning tools that work fine and sharpen them on my Worksharp and use diamond salivary disks on it. I get a pretty sharp tool that works well.

The bottom line question is how much you have to spend on turning.

View Gixxerjoe04's profile

Gixxerjoe04

850 posts in 1940 days


#10 posted 08-30-2016 11:45 AM

I only have used carbide, made my own tools so it wasn’t that expensive, bough my cutter from captain eddie. One good thing about them is the learning curve is pretty quick and easy. I really want to use traditional tools but haven’t, been nervous about trying to figure out how to use them and sharpen them. One thing I’ve noticed about watching guys use traditional tools, besides a cleaner cut, looks like they’re a lot faster at getting the job done. Carbide seems to take awhile, bogs down my HF lathe pretty easy if you try to take a big cut.

View OSU55's profile

OSU55

2255 posts in 2353 days


#11 posted 08-30-2016 11:56 AM

I made my own carbide tools and got inserts from Capn Eddie. I tried them on spindle turnings and went right back to HSS. I used them a while for roughing out bowls, but after I learned how to use bowls gouges better (check out Lyle Jamieson on youtube) I don’t use the carbide at all. Properly sharpened HSS requires less force and makes a cleaner cut. Not sure why you must have CBN, Al oxide wheels do fine for me.

View TheDane's profile

TheDane

5637 posts in 4027 days


#12 posted 08-30-2016 01:37 PM

Not sure why you must have CBN, Al oxide wheels do fine for me.

You don’t have to have CBN wheels, but they are cleaner (nothing flaking off the wheels), they run cooler, repeatability is better (the wheel diameter doesn’t change), they are available in different profiles (e.g. radius edge, etc.), and they are safer (won’t crack and explode). And (IMNTBHO) they do a better job of sharpening your tools.

-- Gerry -- "I don't plan to ever really grow up ... I'm just going to learn how to act in public!"

View Gixxerjoe04's profile

Gixxerjoe04

850 posts in 1940 days


#13 posted 08-30-2016 01:39 PM

The sharpener made by sorby is pretty cool, just a sander with jigs basically, of course the $500 price tag isn’t cool.

View HapHazzard's profile

HapHazzard

116 posts in 1232 days


#14 posted 08-30-2016 02:38 PM

Whoever said HSS tools are sharper made an important point. I’ve found HSS to be better than carbide for turning wood, plastics, brass and even mild steel. It not only holds an edge better at high temperatures, but it doesn’t get as hot running at higher speeds because it cuts with less friction. It’s possible to ruin an HSS cutting tool, of course, either by not keeping it sharp or by improper grinding, but when you come to appreciate the performance of well-sharpened HSS tools, you’re going to want to hone your sharpening skills and keep them performing to the max. It’s no coincidence that the best turners out there are also the best sharpeners.

-- Unix programmers never die; they just > /dev/null

View HapHazzard's profile

HapHazzard

116 posts in 1232 days


#15 posted 08-30-2016 02:53 PM

A combination belt-disk sander is the best thing out there for grinding and sharpening turning tools. You can easily set it up to grind any angle you desire, and belts are available in a variety of grits and abrasives. You can make some simple jigs and fixtures if you need them, but with a little practice you can sharpen most tools without them.

-- Unix programmers never die; they just > /dev/null

View waho6o9's profile

waho6o9

8639 posts in 2940 days


#16 posted 08-30-2016 03:05 PM

http://contrib1.wkfinetools.com/hendersonM/sharpDisk/sharpDisk-7.asp

Even though it’s made for carving tools one could make it work for turning tools.

something to think about.

View LeeMills's profile

LeeMills

660 posts in 1665 days


#17 posted 08-30-2016 03:52 PM

Just my opinion so…
I do have a carbide tool that I made and it works pretty well for roughing out bowls. I do think the Easy Wood tools are over priced. The “medium” is $120 but the replacement cutter is $15-19. The cutter may well be worth the money but that makes the handle $100? Make your own handle for <$20 for the wood, steel bar, proper tap and drill bit. Oh, my bits are German made carbide for a planer and were $19 for a box of 10.

I have watched several videos on the carbide but still have questions in regards to spindle work.
How do you cut beads close together or very small beads? How do you cut coves with a diameter smaller than the bit? How can you avoid the horrible chip out of square corners on a pommel cut? How do you make a shoulder cut? How do you cut a V groove more shallow than the angle of the tip of the diamond bit (and some of the diamond bits are not even pointy)?
Anyone know how to make these standard spindle cuts with carbide; if so please link me to the video(s).

-- We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them. Albert Einstein

View TheDane's profile

TheDane

5637 posts in 4027 days


#18 posted 08-30-2016 04:28 PM

Just to clarify … carbide tools are, for the most part, scrapers.

They don’t really slice the wood like properly sharpened HSS tools, but rather they tear it. That results in a surface that needs considerable sanding.

The exception, of course, would be the dished carbides (like those used on Hunter hollowing tools). They can be very aggressive and if not handled properly can produce some undesirable results. Don’t ask me how I know.

-- Gerry -- "I don't plan to ever really grow up ... I'm just going to learn how to act in public!"

View jfoobar's profile

jfoobar

44 posts in 1694 days


#19 posted 08-30-2016 05:25 PM

I bought a couple of the Easy Wood Tools when they first became popular thinking they would make the roughing portion of my life easier, but eventually realized that I could rough green wood faster with a bowl gouge and the gouge was also neater as fewer of the shavings were hitting me directly in the mask. Other than occasional use of the “easy finisher” due to its convenient shape for situational scraping, these tools went into my drawer and gathered dust.

However, I now almost exclusively turn kiln-dried wood, mostly making platters from 8/4 lumber and I have rediscovered the usefulness of carbide. I can true up a platter blank and do rough shaping much easier and faster, most especially on really hard hardwoods, with carbides than with my go-to bowl gouges. I have recently turned two 18” platters from Jatoba (2690 on the Janka scale) and shaping that piece entirely using a gouge would have been painful and annoying. Carbide made easy work of it.

That said, I never use carbide for finishing cuts. I typically use a combination of my Thompson gouge or negative rake scraping for finishing cuts. I prefer the R6 (radius 6”) carbide bits from AZ Carbide.

View Woodknack's profile

Woodknack

12778 posts in 2744 days


#20 posted 08-31-2016 02:59 AM



Yes can certainly buy some steel and make your own carbide tools and save a few bucks but cutters & replacements not cheap.
- Wildwood

Correction, you save A LOT of bucks making your own, potentially $100 per tool or more.

Good place for replacements
http://azcarbide.com/

-- Rick M, http://thewoodknack.blogspot.com/

View Wildwood's profile

Wildwood

2626 posts in 2498 days


#21 posted 08-31-2016 01:20 PM

Rick M you posted a great link prices and shipping very reasonable in deed. Thanks for posting!

Lot of pen & wood turners turning antler, bone, and exotic woods use this site.

http://www.carbidedepot.com/Wood-Turning.aspx

I have same roughing HSS roughing gouges & scrappers bought over twenty years ago and cannot tell you how many times have resharpened them. Have wore out couple spindle & bowl gouges along the way through constant use. Still have some of my allen wrenches converted to scrappers for hollowing X-mas ornaments.

When your carbide cutter is completely dull, a touch up with a diamond card file may bring it back a little but bottom line you have to replace that cutter. When my tool is dull just make a trip to the grinder. I am not looking for a tool so can rotate the cutter or waiting on a replacement cutter.

Yes, carbide tools are here to stay and have a place in the craft of woodturning. No they will never replace conventional woodturning tools! Think all the previous posting by memebers explain why!

So will need to buy and learn to sharpen your turning tools!

-- Bill

View Bill7255's profile

Bill7255

428 posts in 2648 days


#22 posted 08-31-2016 01:47 PM

I started out with traditional tools doing small turnings. I have since moved into bowls and larger work. It was a trying learning curve using a bowl gouge and now better with that. I bought some inserts from Captin Eddie because carbide seemed to be the thing. Easier than learning a bowl gouge. However glad I didn’t start with them. I would much rather use my Thompson bowl gouge than carbide. And I think my Thompson scrapper is better than and even easier than carbide. I may use carbide occasionally, but prefer traditional tools.

-- Bill R

View eflanders's profile

eflanders

326 posts in 2214 days


#23 posted 08-31-2016 05:12 PM

Please note I am not adverse to sharpening. I actually enjoy it, but prefer to make wood shavings more than metal ones. Ha! Based on the responses so far, I think I’m going to get the CBN wheel and some decent HSS tools.

View Jack Lewis's profile

Jack Lewis

437 posts in 1442 days


#24 posted 09-10-2016 01:35 PM


I am new to turning, but recently I acquired a small H.F. lathe. I also got some of the H.F. steel (not HSS) lathe tools which need constant resharpening. So now I am debating whether I should invest in some carbide tools, or get a CBN grinding wheel and some HSS tools. If you add the cost of the wheel and the tools, it is about the same as the carbide tools are alone. What do you suggest I do and why?

- eflanders

Old school turners preach HSS but the advantage goes to the hand that rocks the cradle not the cradle. It always has and always will! Sure a turner can get a “smoother” cut with very very sharp steel but that very very sharp steel says “ouch” very quickly when mother natures rubs it wrong every time. He then has to stop and resharpen just before the “one more” cut or he is turning with a dull edge again on the gouge, scraper, etc. anyway Especially with drier wood, steel abrades the edge very quickly. Carbide can be resharpened with a few seconds on a diamond hone much easier than any steel sharpening system. And no matter how nice of a final cut, it will never compare to the finish a real worker wants to end up with after they use the magic of abrasives and finishes. My thinking is thus. each tool in your shop has a purpose that it was acquired for, use it to that full advantage and capability, then proceed next with whatever improves the job better. Todays tools and methods are so different from what the “masters” and old schoolers developed, results are what matter. I have both tools and use both constantly.

Not a plug and I have nothing to do with http://azcarbide.com/products/ but their assortment especially the newer Shear cutters are very inexpensive compared to the high end carbide dealers.

-- "PLUMBER'S BUTT! Get over it, everybody has one"

View REO's profile

REO

929 posts in 2438 days


#25 posted 09-12-2016 12:56 AM

I have to disagree with the notion that carbide cant get as sharp as HSS. The sharpness is not a function of the grain structure of the medium but the grain size of the abrasive sharpening it. how sharp does one need to be is sharper always better or is sharp enough enough. micro chips are caused by heat created by friction at the edge during sharpening. I know it seems to be “common knowledge” but is not true. It is true that most carbide tools sold for turning are ground as scrapers. So they are used as such. if you get an insert ground with a “bevel” or relief it can be used in the exact same way as a bowl or spindle gouge. lookup the nomenclature for the way a carbide insert is determined. Here is a table: http://www.carbidedepot.com/formulas-insert-d.htm carbide can give similar results to traditional HSS tools provided the edge is presented similarly. here is a video of a carbide insert used in kiln dried ash certainly not presented as a scraper.

https://youtu.be/GwTwU9FNb4M?list=PLBBq08qeZUqxql3YiXj3ubUaa0rDLhUVS

View TheDane's profile

TheDane

5637 posts in 4027 days


#26 posted 09-12-2016 03:25 AM

if you get an insert ground with a “bevel” or relief it can be used in the exact same way as a bowl or spindle gouge.

An example of this would by the Hunter carbide tools ( http://huntertoolsystems.com/ ). They can be extremely aggressive, and can produce fine finishing cuts.

-- Gerry -- "I don't plan to ever really grow up ... I'm just going to learn how to act in public!"

View MrRon's profile

MrRon

5440 posts in 3607 days


#27 posted 09-12-2016 06:18 PM

Carbide is OK for chisels that cut by “scraping”. HSS is the best choice for chisels that cut by “slicing” as in gouges and skew chisels. Carbide is brittle and can’t hold a fine edge.

View REO's profile

REO

929 posts in 2438 days


#28 posted 09-13-2016 12:15 AM

MrRon the fundamental reason for many people to use carbide is because it will hold an edge longer than HSS. the question is how fine an edge can be had with carbide. When carbide first hit the streets it was a crude product made by a rudimentary process but it still had advantages over some cutting tools in some areas. sharpening was possible but also crude by today’s standards. its main advantage was standing up to the heat generated during cutting. the edge was intentionally blunted or a flat was added to prevent chipping and make it more durable. no one cared or dreamed about using for aluminum. it would plug up, needed high tool pressure and provided a terrible finish. the industry has not stopped refining the process. Today manufactured by a premium process carbide is used in every situation where HSS in the past was the only option and more. you can still get the initial grades of carbide very inexpensively. look at the price of a set of carbide cutters at the big box store. Not really sharp but it wont be burning along a round-over on the second edge of a sheet of mdf. then compare that to a premium carbide product like an Amana cutter that is sharp but it will cost six times as much as the whole set from the borg and hold that edge even longer.

Gerry GREAT EXAMPLE!

View TheDane's profile

TheDane

5637 posts in 4027 days


#29 posted 09-13-2016 02:25 AM

Gerry GREAT EXAMPLE!

The Hunter tools are amazing. I panned carbide tools until I borrowed a buddy’s Hunter Osprey. Wow!

-- Gerry -- "I don't plan to ever really grow up ... I'm just going to learn how to act in public!"

View bigJohninvegas's profile

bigJohninvegas

597 posts in 1825 days


#30 posted 09-13-2016 06:46 PM

Good advise here from the dane. I was taught to use gouges first, and still prefer them over carbide, however I am using carbide more often lately. Primarily to hollow out bowls and such.
Also buy quality tools. Traditional tools, I prefer Thompson tools, and all my carbide use the Mike Hunter carbide cutters. There a several tool makers that use the Hunter cutter.
As for sharpening. You can use a diamond stone to sharpen carbide. James Barry has you tube videos showing how.
And I use CBN myself for HSS, but a friend just bought a tormek grinder. All personal preference really.


Carl Jacobson recently did a video on this … https://youtu.be/ejCnWgeXZcE

I personally prefer HSS tools … I get cleaner cuts with them. I do use carbides for some situations, mostly roughing out bowls and hollowing vessels.

- TheDane


-- John

View MrRon's profile

MrRon

5440 posts in 3607 days


#31 posted 09-13-2016 07:00 PM

Reo; I do a lot of metalworking; carbide is great for “hogging” larger amounts of material, but I have to switch to HSS for the final finish. I don’t turn a lot of wood, so I have not used carbide for wood.

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