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Have any of my friends here ever made their own woodturning tools

1999 Views 14 Replies 10 Participants Last post by  Waldschrat
I have made a few woodturning quick change tool handles, mostly from metal, or metal and wood for Bowl turning /spindle turning .So I wondered since this is going to be a project of mine which I have started and will continue working on in the next few months (I always have a few projects going on at a time ) so if you've made handles or any of your own turning tools for wood please show me or us as I want to share ideas on this theme .kindest regards. Alistair
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I used to work at a Medical device manufacturer as an Engineer. Part of their business was providingcustom surgical kits for implanting their orthopedic implants. As the instruments become dull, they were tossed in a 55 gallon barrel for recycling. I managed to scrounge a few tools that I adapted to my woodturning hobby. Material was A2 tool steel. I have about a half dozen somewhere.
I made a few a while back and as the need arises I make more. A2 steel is my usual choice although some of the high chromium off cuts from paper guillotine blades has worked rather well.
I gave up on tungsten carbide as they are too difficult to sharpen and break easy.
thanks guys that site is good bob Alistair
I know a guy who owns a machine shop. As his files get dull, he replaces them and saves the old ones for me. They make excellent scrapers and parting tools. I even used one to make a a tool to cut captured rings.

Instead of grinding off all of the "teeth" I usually just smooth up the first inch or so and then wrap the remaining length of the file with masking tape. The tape prevents the file from marking or gouging into the tool rest.
I am in the process of making a turning chisel. I can't find anyone that can actually drill a hole through the hardened steel though.
I was looking at the turning tools at Rockler today and shivered at the price. Then thought; I have several old files at home and a bench grinder! Hummm? I have shaped steel before so I am going to give it a try.

From what I saw of turning tool "sets" ( and from what I saw on line turning tutorials) I am missing some very needed cutters. Skews and scrapers both. Will have to see what I come up with.

Please don't even attempt to make tools from old files, they are very dangerous .They are far too brittle to be made into tools, and will easily shatter into small fraqgments like glass.They are so very dangerous beware.I had some and it happened to me once , I chucked them all out .I learned later this is quite a common thing so be careful guys and gals. Alistair
alistair is right about files bieng very brittle IF you dont heat treat them.

but if you can treat them, they can make good economical tools
i have a good article about heat treatment but the website is playing up so i'll post it soon

some people like to use untreated files as scrapers because you can get them razor sharp because of thier hardness. but only for very fine finishing cuts
Thanks for the warning Alistair about the brittleness. I will have to wait now for Broda's website link.
sorry mark the website appears to have changed and I cant find the new one.
I'll let you know if i find it again
Thanks for the info Allistar. Will look for other options.

Hello Broda, thanks.
I dont know if anyone is interested in making goblets or small lidded boxes,or hollowing out small egg-shapes for ornaments here is a tool for that. You start out with a 1/4 in. allen wrench ( the one that are a little longer ). Heat the short end and bend it to a 50 degree angle. Then grind the short end to a 60 degree angle. Make your own handle and glue the metal in with CA glue or 5 min. epoxy. I hope that this will help.
this tool is used for end-grain. Happy turning
Scottsman! Hello!

I want to comment on the old file thing… I have learned turning from an old (old is relative as he is double as old as I am ) (in his mid sixties) master turner. Yes, there is still a profesion called woodturner here and masters and journeyman who are very skilled and they are getting fewer as the years roll on because of CNC and whatnot.

Anyway, He told me that it depends on the kind of steel and the age of the file used. He said that newer files, say less than 50 years old or so (depending on manufacturer here in Germany) are not really to be used because of exactly what you said…. and as he said " you will have bits of the tool flying past your ears." The old ones, really old before the last War, are the best because the steel is not the alloy which is so brittle and I have made a few of these tools and the work fine. One must just be cafeful not to use the brittle steel, that is the trick.

I take his word for it because he has been turning wood longer than I have been alive, I guess one could argue that back then the old school hand workers do not follow or did not learn all the safety regulations and perhaps that could be said. Take it for what its worth


One more thing… one can buy from catalouges many types of very hard steel tools, namley PM2 steel or HSS steel turning tools and just as something to think about HSS tools are used everyday for turning tools, but table saw blades made out of HSS are not allowed to be even in a shop here because of the brittleness of the HSS itself. It being a very hard but brittle steel…. I would be nice if someone here was a metal worker or something, is there a "SteelJocks" or something where we could ask?
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