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Forum topic by Davevand posted 06-13-2019 06:26 PM 973 views 0 times favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Davevand's profile


289 posts in 2084 days

06-13-2019 06:26 PM

Topic tags/keywords: lathe turning

So I just bought a Jet mini lathe JWL1221 and a Nova G3 chuck. Now I need to buy some tools. I really don’t want to break the bank (at least until I know if I like turning), so what are my options for chisels? Are the carbide inset chisels worth buying or should I be buying HSS? I also do not have a good sharping system for chisels yet, I sharpen all my plane irons and hand chisels by hand.

11 replies so far

View LesB's profile


3101 posts in 4691 days

#1 posted 06-13-2019 06:53 PM

In general and as usual you get what you pay for when it comes to tools but even inexpensive tools will work, they just take more time keeping them sharp. Also frequently sharpening will wear them down sooner. I would start with a few basic tools like a couple of bowl gouges, a 1/2” scraper, and a parting tool, all in HSS. There only seems to be three basic styles of carbide tools so start with the round one and add more later.

Carbide is great for roughing things out but when it comes to the final finish cuts HSS works better. The carbide cutters just do not have that fine cutting edge of HSS. By the way carbie can be re-sharpened to a degree by rubbing the flat side on a fine diamond sharpening coated stone. I get at least twice the service out of them that way.

Turning is great fun and the challenges never seem to end.
I use a bench grinder with a “white” disk to sharpen my tools and for a finer edge on a skew or parting tool I use a stone or slow speed wet grinder.

-- Les B, Oregon

View Lazyman's profile


8000 posts in 2635 days

#2 posted 06-13-2019 08:42 PM

It depends a little on what sorts of things you want to try turning first. Benjamins Best (from PSI I think) and Hurricane Turning tools are both good solid HHS tool brands that won’t break the bank. BB sells a starter set that includes a basic set of the spindle turning tools and one bowl gouge for about $75 on Amazon that will let you try both types of turning. You may not need or use all of the scrapers that it comes with but those are good for regrinding to make your own specialty tools later if you really get into it. If turning pens is primarily what you are interested in, then a set of smaller or micro tools may be a better first set. BTW, you should not use spindle turning tools when turning a bowl. Spindles (edit: originally mistyped “bowls”) are typically turned with just side grain (end grain at the ends) while a bowl is usually turned with the endgrain sideways which spindle tools are usually not strong enough to handle, especially cheap ones.

Carbide is a quick way to get started as it doesn’t require as much of a learning curve and no sharpening skills or jigs. I just bought myself a set of carbide from Harrison Specialties and I am very pleased with them and they are not too badly price IMO. You will probably want the small or medium sized carbide tools for the mini lathe, though if you are mostly doing spindle turning, the large ones are okay too. I personally recommend starting with the spindle turning tools and add the carbide later. I think it is important to learn the basics of spindle turning with the traditional spindle turning tools before you start using the carbide tools, or turning bowls for that matter.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

View mike02719's profile


306 posts in 5034 days

#3 posted 06-13-2019 10:03 PM

You are in a spot that all turners were in at one time or another. Some of us are still there (me). For what it is worth, my opinion is do not buy sets. You will not use most of the tools. Before you buy too much, try to decide where your interests lie. i.e. pens, bowls, spindles, etc. It could be difficult to use a scraper on a pen. However, sharpening will always be needed. This issue must be addressed asap. If you are interested in carbides, visit Capt. Eddie Castilin, great videos, advice, and prices on his website. Good luck and stay with it, turning is always worthwhile pastime.

-- Mike, Massachusetts

View Greg66's profile


30 posts in 905 days

#4 posted 06-14-2019 05:41 AM

Congratulations on the new lathe! The single most important thing for successful turning is the ability to easily sharpen your tools correctly. I’m not a big fan of carbide tools but that may be the cheapest way to get started since you can easily sharpen them with a diamond stone. The drawback will be that you will have to do a lot more sanding since they can’t come close to the clean cut from hss. I’ve been turning for 30 years and I’ve tried about every type of tool on the market. My experience has shown me the best path is to never buy any cheap tools, I promise you will regret it once you finally get around to buying a good one. I would encourage you to not buy anything below M42 HSS. My favorite is the Crowm Pro-PM it’s several light years ahead of the old M2 HSS (1940’s tech). The increase in quality is much larger than the increase in price. The increase in performance is really hard to believe.

View OSU55's profile


2833 posts in 3237 days

#5 posted 06-14-2019 12:15 PM

Welcome to the world of turning.

Sharpening – there are many ways to accomplish it, but starting from scratch the most overall effective approach is an 8” slow speed 1750 rpm bench grinder with a Wolverine Varigrind jig set up. Some use bench belt sanders, wet grinders, etc. Highly recommend a jig for gouges tho whatever the grinding method.

Carbide – not a big fan except for hollowing vessels (not bowls). If you have a grinder, drill, tap and die, pretty cheap and easy to make your own. Capn Eddie is a very good source for cutters, bars if you dont want to make them, and how to make them. I think people are better off learning how to use hss. If you need instant gratification use carbide, if you want to learn to turn use hss.

Chisels – I recommend a beginner start with hi value tools like Benjamins Best and Hurricane. You need to learn to sharpen and you need to try different tool sizes, tip shapes, bevel angles, to learn what does what. Do you want to grind up a $100 tool or a $30 tool? Try 3 or 4 gouges sizes for $80 or $300? You get the picture. The hi value tools cut just the same just maybe not as long (hss only, no plain carbon steel). Once you know what you like and use the most buy the $100 tool as you can.

Before recommending specific tools, what do you plan to turn?

View Davevand's profile


289 posts in 2084 days

#6 posted 06-14-2019 01:41 PM

Thanks everyone for the tips. I am not really sure what I will be turning yet since I have never done it before. I think mostly small bowls, plates, maybe a pen or two.

I guess the next thing to be looking for is a slow speed grinder. I may have access to a Worksharp 3000, anyone use one for sharpening?

View Hockey's profile


182 posts in 1660 days

#7 posted 06-14-2019 02:01 PM

I have the Wen slow speed grinder(cost me about $85.00 new), and it runs great. Have had it for about 2 years now. I have added a CBN wheel;, but, the factory wheels worked fine.

View MrUnix's profile (online now)


8776 posts in 3447 days

#8 posted 06-14-2019 07:00 PM

If you don’t already have one – get a belt sander. You can double duty it for woodworking and sharpening. Capt. Eddie has a good video on using one of those cheap ~$60 HF belt/disc sanders along with his $2 sharpening jig. You don't need to spend lots of money if you don’t want to :)


-- Brad in FL - In Dog I trust... everything else is questionable

View OSU55's profile


2833 posts in 3237 days

#9 posted 06-15-2019 11:43 AM

Agree with Brad. While Capn Eddie’s cheap jig works, it is limited in the gouge profiles/bevel angles it can produce. Jigs like the varigrind adjust the lower leg to different angles for different profiles. Making a cheap jig with different angles can work, but you need to know the measurements. You would want to include that aspect in your research. I use 2 different angle settings (and different tool extensions) for bowl gouges, and a different angle for spindle gouges.

View Sawdust2012's profile


298 posts in 2960 days

#10 posted 06-15-2019 11:57 AM

I highly recommend Hunter Tools. They are carbide, but don’t scrape like EWT. I use and like EWT also, but I get a lot of tear out with them.

View AndyJ1s's profile


485 posts in 1003 days

#11 posted 06-16-2019 05:33 PM

Ditto on the Hunter tools, especially their Osprey tools. You can “ride the bevel” on them, just like conventional gouges. Love mine.


-- Andy - Arlington TX

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