Carbide Turning Tools - Recommendations

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EdM

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Dec 24, 2018
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I'm thinking about upgrading my turning tools from HSS to carbide, and would appreciate any advise you can provide regarding tool size and the type of cutter that is preferred for both acrylic and wood pen blanks.
I see that some of the cutters are described as "negative rake", which would seem to result in a more aggressive cut. Are these good for use on some or all of the materials we turn ?

Thanks for your input !

EdM
 
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magpens

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I have been using carbide cutters for 9 years and find that they do the job well for me.
I take very light cuts ... nothing aggressive ... I just take time to get nice clean cuts.

I use round cutters only, with diameter of 11 mm and thickness of 5 mm. . Never used the square, squarish, or pointed cutters.
The tooling was made for me by an IAP member who seems to have disappeared now.
I have replaced the cutters 3 times over the 9 years. . Each new cutter costs me about $10. . Have made about 1500 pens.
I buy the cutters from a company in the Portland. Oregon area. . Can give more info if you desire. . Occasionally "clean up" the top surface of the cutter by a few swipes on one of those fine grit "diamond honing plates".

I have not tried the (relatively new) negative rake cutters ... would like to ... I am not sure that they should be characterized as "more aggressive" ... I actually thought that they are less aggressive and that they give cleaner cuts closer to finished quality.

I have also tried commercial tools (the mini Easy Wood tools, I believe ... ) They worked fine for me ... again, small round cutter about 11 mm diam.

The key thing for me was no catching when turning ... I had problems trying to learn to use the usual wood chisels (spindle gouge, skew, etc.) ... no such problems with the carbide tools.
 
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JimB

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Why do you think going from HSS to Carbide is an upgrade? It my opinion, and others may disagree, it is a downgrade. I own both HSS and Carbide tools and use HSS for 99.9% of everything I do from pens to large bowls.
 

magpens

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Thanks for your reply, Mal.
I'd appreciate knowing you source for the cutters, nad how long the actual tools are.
EdM
Ed,

The commercial tool length in total is 9.25" (mini Easy Wood). The cutter is a little smaller than I like on this tool, and must be purchased from Easy Wood.

My usual go-to tool is custom made, as I said, and is about the same length overall. . The cutter is a 11 mm x 4 mm thick standard industrially available cutter.

My source for the 11 mm diam x 4 mm thick carbide cutters on my usual tool is Global Tooling and Supply, 1203 Ocean St., Eugene, OR 97402-2916.

Contact: deborah@globaltooling.net
 

EdM

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Long Island, N.Y., ETA Southeast Florida !
Why do you think going from HSS to Carbide is an upgrade? It my opinion, and others may disagree, it is a downgrade. I own both HSS and Carbide tools and use HSS for 99.9% of everything I do from pens to large bowls.
Jim,
From everything I've read on this site, carbide is a better choice for cutter longevity, as well as ease and quality of turning for both wood and acrylic.
I enjoy using my HSS tools...
Why would you consider the move to carbide a downgrade ?

Ed
 

turncrazy43

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I have been using carbide tools for years as well as HSS. Mine are Easywood tools and find they work great for acrylic type material. They recently came out with a negative rake cutter which is really great for acrylic material. I primarily us the R2 square cutter and find it really works well.
Turncrazy43
 

leehljp

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Why do you think going from HSS to Carbide is an upgrade? It my opinion, and others may disagree, it is a downgrade. I own both HSS and Carbide tools and use HSS for 99.9% of everything I do from pens to large bowls.
Jim,
From everything I've read on this site, carbide is a better choice for cutter longevity, as well as ease and quality of turning for both wood and acrylic.
I enjoy using my HSS tools...
Why would you consider the move to carbide a downgrade ?

Ed
If one knows how to sharpen properly and has the equipment, HSS sharpens MUCH finer than carbide straight from the factory.

I am one that has changed to recommending carbide for new users though, because most people don't have the experience, skill or tools for proper sharpening of HSS. Carbide will get a good decent job done on basic turnings, but HSS can turn and finish so that sanding is not needed.

HSS can shave a whisker, carbide is hard put to do that.
 

JimB

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Ed,

I will try to explain. Hank touched on some of it. Keep in mind I don’t have anything against Carbide. It just doesn’t do what I want it to. However, your needs, experience, skill and what you turn will be different from mine. I turn wood, not acrylics. I have been turning for 11 years and turn a wide range of items... small spindles, larger spindles, bowls, platters, hollow forms etc. I have also had the benefit of some one on one instruction from experienced / professional Turners. For example the person who taught me how to use a skew and detail gouge will be a demonstrator at the AAW Symposium this year.

My #1 reason for HSS is what Hank mentions. The quality of cut you get with HSS is far superior to Carbide. This dramatically reduces the need to sand. I can use almost any of my HSS tools (skew, detail gouge, roughing gouge, bowl gouge) and get a superior cut to Carbide. Many people doubt this about the roughing gouge but the reality is, if you know how to properly use it, a roughing gouge can get a finishing cut close to what a skew can do.

HSS is more versatile. There are cuts and designs that I can do easily with HSS that would be difficult or impossible with Carbide.

HSS tools can be custom shaped for specific needs. I really don’t do this much but as an example I have a HF 1/4 detail gouge that has the bevel swept waaaaaay back to allow me to undercut tree branches on miniature trees.

I can remove stock (waste) faster with HSS. When I started turning this wasn’t true. I could do it faster with Carbide but with experience that has changed and HSS is much faster.

There is also some misconception that it takes multiple HSS tools to turn a project. That simply is not true. For example I can turn a pen, start to finish with one tool and that one tool can be one of many choices. Roughing gouge, detail, skew, bowl gouge... it doesn’t matter. This is true for many Turning projects although we choose to use multiple tools because it is faster and easier.

As far as cutter longevity... this is true and false. It is true because Carbide will continue to work well without sharpening much longer than HSS. I say it is false because the quality of cut of Carbide is significantly inferior to HSS and continues to decline during those longer periods of not sharpening or replacing the cutter.

As far as ease of use goes I agree with you. HSS has a much longer learning curve than Carbide. In addition each type of HSS tool is a little different and needs to be learned.

For quality of turning, it is probably obvious from what I have already said, that when it comes to wood, HSS is far superior. As mentioned earlier I don’t turn acrylics and can’t speak to that.

I hope this helps you decide. What you may find is there are advantages and disadvantages to both HSS and Carbide and the best choice is to have both in your arsenal of tools.
 

magpens

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Forever A Newbody !!

I agree with Hank in recommending carbide tools for newbie turners (and I think that I always will be).

Carbide gets you nicely to your goal of turning a decent pen (with the help of a bit of sandpaper) without you having to go through Frustration Purgatory of learning about gouges, skews, and sharpening. . Nobody but a newbie can fully appreciate this little piece of Sublime Eternal Bliss that you can enter through the Arch of Carbide.

Mind you, I continue to persecute my soul by striving to learn to use HSS. . Just yesterday, I took a Lee Valley hands-on seminar on lathe tool sharpening, which got me a usable gouge (... but, was it a bowl gouge or was it a spindle gouge ? ... only the Woodturning Devil knows, or indeed cares !). . The session terminated with an opportunity to apply the fearsome tool to a rapidly spinning piece of maple. . I exited the shop, red-faced, having been told that I was holding the tool upside-down ... with me retorting loudly, "It Worked !"

Turns out that "upside-down" was not quite the right descriptor as used by the instructor who was hastily shooing us out of the shop . . I did indeed at least have the flute pointing in the correct direction, and I was clutching a nicely rounded spindle so I feel justified in claiming some progress.

Even with that dubious bit of progress with HSS ... please give me carbide, and let me use it. . Still my preference, after 2000 pens along Carbide Avenue, featuring both wood and acrylic pens of all types !

Sharpening HSS is, I feel, just like the initiation ritual that Artisan Tradespeople like to enforce on their Apprentices. ... A bit like the old Motor Mechanic who insists that his underlings must use a timing light instead of a microprocessor-based engine analyzer.

Sure, it would be nice to bring a pen to the finishing stage with just a skew and throw away the sandpaper. . But, while that Skewed part of my brain is undergoing its painful and bloody programming, the other, Carbide Brain, can be exulting in successful projects to the accolades of admiring family and friends, who graciously accept their new and beautiful pen gifts ... which may, however, simply stand indefinitely in an IAP BASH mug by the counter-top telephones in their kitchens ... while waiting to be rediscovered in some eons-hence archeological dig !

Bring on the controversy ... I'm outa here !! . BTW, I "liked" Jim's post immediately above, composed while I was composing this !
Let's see if Jim reciprocates and "likes" mine ! :biggrin:
 
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magpens

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BTW, for the second time ....

I disagree with Hank's sign-off message that says "Good is the enemy of Best".

It's not true.

In fact, "Good is Better than Best", in the same sense that "Sooner is Better than Later" !

Long Live Carbide !
 

JimB

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Mal,

I had to 'like' your post... it made me smile the entire time I read it. A lot of what you wrote also reminded me of myself when I started turning. I also see some of this almost every week as I teach (volunteer, not paid) a lot of newer Turners.
 

TonyL

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Alpharetta, GA 30004
I use HSS 90% of the time HOWEVER (not shouting, just emphasizing), sometimes I prefer to turn with carbide depending on the material. I all that I own can be used like a skew. I like having the choice. I would buy a square cutter with a slight radius and a round cutter. You will eventually find what you like depending on what you are turning. And you may change your mind over time.

I own these, but I have owned easy wood tools (not the negative rake one).

https://warrencutlery.com/collections/nano-woodturning-tools-check-out-sale-specials/products/208

Osprey Overview | Hunter Tool Systems

I am pleased with them. The magical skew looks interesting. I sawe them at the SEPG...very nicely made. Bob is a nice guy too. If I didn't have so many chisels and I knew I would like it, I would have given it a try. I would also make sure that I can get the replacements inserts from more than one source. This is just my buying criteria.

Enjoy the hunt!
 
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leehljp

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BTW, for the second time ....

I disagree with Hank's sign-off message that says "Good is the enemy of Best".

It's not true.

In fact, "Good is Better than Best", in the same sense that "Sooner is Better than Later" !

Long Live Carbide !

:biggrin: :biggrin: I used to despise that term " Good enough" because I spent tooooo many hours keeping people's (co-workers) computers working because their brands were "good enough! when they bought them" If they were so good, 1. how come 90% of my co-workers couldn't fix their own, and 2 Why did they fall so often? "Good enough" got bought 10 to 1 but took 10 to 1 the upkeep time to keep going. I don't have time for that! Too much life to be LIVED! :biggrin:
 
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May 16, 2019
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I'm thinking about upgrading my turning tools from HSS to carbide, and would appreciate any advise you can provide regarding tool size and the type of cutter that is preferred for both acrylic and wood pen blanks.
I see that some of the cutters are described as "negative rake", which would seem to result in a more aggressive cut. Are these good for use on some or all of the materials we turn ?

Thanks for your input !

EdM
The negative rake cutters actually provide a much less aggressive cut giving better control of the cut and eliminating the chipping and catches that may occur when turning resin or composite pen blanks. The carbide negative rake cutters are only offered by Easy Wood Tools. Hope that helps!
 
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