Forstner bits

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Forum topic by Rich L. posted 09-17-2021 10:34 PM 602 views 0 times favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Rich L.

61 posts in 3524 days

09-17-2021 10:34 PM

Ii all, I’m looking for a bit set for my Harbor Freight 10×18 lathe. they’re for small boxes or to hog some material for small bowls. I have a cheap old set that I bought years ago from one of those traveling tool sales companies. they’ve served me well when needed but don’t really cut it on the lathe. i can start a at around 3/4 and increase size a max of 1’8 at a time to get larger holes; but hardly worth the effort. The minimum rpm on my lathe is 750 so I’m sure that’s an issue too.

Anyway, more than a particular brand (though suggestions are appreciated) I’m wondering if a specific tooth configuration might be best. Mine have quite a few teeth. I’ve watched several YouTube videos where skilled turners, unlike myself, use bits with less teeth. your opinions are appreciated.

Thanks Rich L.

-- Rich, Southern CA

12 replies so far

View SMP's profile


4842 posts in 1152 days

#1 posted 09-17-2021 11:09 PM

I’ve had good luck with Fisch Waves.

View tvrgeek's profile


2292 posts in 2896 days

#2 posted 09-17-2021 11:35 PM

I have a set of HF. Well, I have a Fisch set in my shopping cart!

View therealSteveN's profile


8900 posts in 1821 days

#3 posted 09-17-2021 11:52 PM

Fisch Wavecutters are probably the best right now, but any of the Fisch line is going to be much better than the average stuff out there. If you can hold out, this is the kind of thing that someone will have a low low Christmas price on. If you need to act fast, just buy the individuals that you absolutely need now, look at the others at Christmas.

If I couldn’t find a good price on Fisch, I’d check out Famag.

Typically the ones with a solid rim around the bit, generate and hold a lot more heat, heat kills cutting edges. The Fisch, and Famag both have a line that looks like a wave across the edge, allows air to get in, and cool the cutter, less problem. It would also seem it’s another case of getting less, and it costing more. Kinda like a lot of diet food, where they remove something and a small package is twice the price. Less metal, and always at a greater price here, but they really are a better cutter.

-- Think safe, be safe

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

7238 posts in 3740 days

#4 posted 09-18-2021 11:50 AM

I needed a bit to drill the hole for a pepper mill a few weeks back and bought a Fisch wave cutter. It was actually amazing how well it cut through the end grain of the cherry to drill that hole….they are very good bits.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View dbw's profile


629 posts in 2884 days

#5 posted 09-18-2021 03:53 PM

I’ve had good luck with Fisch Waves.



-- Woodworking is like a vicious cycle. The more tools you buy the more you find to buy.

View Foghorn's profile


1299 posts in 633 days

#6 posted 09-18-2021 09:17 PM

I have a set of the LeeValley ones. Zero complaints.

-- Darrel

View WoodenDreams's profile


1433 posts in 1158 days

#7 posted 09-18-2021 10:02 PM

I have three sets of the cheap forstner bits. The sizes I end up using the most, I’m replacing them indidually with Fisch Waves. Did look at the Lee Valley similar style forstner bits. They look decent. But I’m still going with Fisch Wave.

View bigJohninvegas's profile


1100 posts in 2709 days

#8 posted 09-18-2021 10:04 PM

I too am a fan of fisch wave cutters.
Not so much of sets. I did get a small set 1/4” to 1”.
Everything else I buy as needed. I have 4 bits for pepper mills that I could not get
in a set. Aggravating, if I had bought the big set, I would still need two individual bits.

So I have a Question for you though? For what you describe your need for them.
Sounds like a Box scraper would work better for you.
I don’t make a pilot hole for bowl turning, or small boxes. Deep hollow form yes.
And for boxes I have a Jimmy Clewes Box scraper. It is intended to give you a flat bottom in a box.
And crazy fast vs drill bits.

Other brands out there too. Jimmy has been my primary teacher, so I have ended up using many of his signature tools.
As far as lathe speed, 750 is a bit fast for a drill bit. I use mine at around 350 or 400rpm, and I go slow.
anything past an inch deep I’ll have my compressor air gun keep a constant air flow on it.
Amazing just how well that works too. Bits come out cool to touch with some fairly deep cuts.
At 750 rpm, take breaks to let bit cool.
Good luck.

-- John

View Woodnmetal's profile


183 posts in 92 days

#9 posted 09-19-2021 07:14 PM

I agree with John. 750rpm is just to high a speed for anything over 1/2” without pushing it hard to keep the chatter/vibration at minimum.
The geometry and sharpening of the Fisch wave cutters make them top notch, however, your lowest 750rpm will still get you frustrated to the point of destroying them IMO.
Just buy the cheaper ones to ruff things out and push them hard .


-- I haven't changed... but I know I'm not the same.

View Lazyman's profile


7994 posts in 2634 days

#10 posted 09-19-2021 07:55 PM

I managed to make my old Excelsior mini lathe work with larger bits. As long a you start small and move up incrementally, you are only removing 1/8 to 1/4 per bit so the heat isn’t too bad. If it does get hot , just back out and let it cool periodically.

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

View Rich L.'s profile

Rich L.

61 posts in 3524 days

#11 posted 09-20-2021 09:00 PM

Thanks for the replies. Wow! Those bits aren’t cheap! I’m sure we get what we pay for though. 750 RPM is fast. When using my current bits I constantly need to remove the Jacobs chuck and dip the bit in water. Seems to work but takes forever.

John, I mostly like to drill holes for boxes. The size is probably about that of a pepper mill. I have tried holes for bowl turning in hopes of getting a quick start; But again takes too long. I will look into a box scrapper. My concern is proper sharpening. Right now I use four carbide tools I purchased as a set from Grizzly. (about $80.00) I also bought a cheap carbide hollowing tool that I’ve used once on a small piece. All five tools seem OK but I have no frame of reference.

For now I think I’ll wait on the bits until my skills and lathe quality improve enough to justify the purchase.

Thanks, Rich

-- Rich, Southern CA

View Karda's profile


3376 posts in 1801 days

#12 posted 09-20-2021 09:57 PM

I have that same lathe and tried a hole with a 1.5” bit and it stopped the lathe, as soon as the bit cut into the wood the motor stopped what happened I have never drilled on the lathe

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