Carbide Turning Tools

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Stevej72

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Joined
Apr 30, 2006
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1,525
Location
Billings, MT, USA.
I haven't spent any time in the shop since 2012, but with retirement coming December 2nd, I am looking at upgrading some of my tools. One thing I'd like to have is carbide turning tools. I found some on sale on the Rocker website but they are not the smaller ones that they market as pen-turning.

https://www.rockler.com/carbide-mini-turning-tool-3-piece-set $129.99 for the mini

https://www.rockler.com/carbide-pen-turning-tool-3-piece-set $139.99 for the pen

Does it make any difference on which one I order?
 
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JimB

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Mar 18, 2008
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4,518
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West Henrietta, NY, USA.
Carbide isn’t an upgrade to HSS. In my opinion, and others may disagree, it is a downgrade. I get much better results with my HSS. I do own a set of EWT Carbide, haven’t used them in a couple years. I have tried one of those Rockler sets, the mini I believe, like it less than the EWT. I found them to be too small.

BTW, even though I don’t use my Carbide tools, I do believe there is a place for them for some folks. If you are considering them, look at the overall tool length. That’s one of the differences with those you link. Will you be comfortable with that length (short) of a tool?
 

RProctor

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Joined
Jul 8, 2019
Messages
20
Location
Rialto, CA
I believe the mini and pen sets use the same cutters. I have the pen set, came as a bundle with my lathe. Its what I mainly use until I can get a sharpening method going for the beginner traditional tool set my friend got me. I think their is a place for both, and even as a beginner I wouldn't use the term upgrade.
 

TonyL

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Joined
Mar 9, 2014
Messages
6,398
Location
Alpharetta, GA 30004
A friend of mine bought the Rocklers tool and loves them; he has them for close to 6 years. A few times he needed replacement cutter and I offered him my EZ Wood Tool cutters (compatible inserts can also be purchased from AZ Carbide - one of our vendors and real nice people). Anyway, for some reason, my friend stated that the Rockler tools only accepted Rockler inserts. I have no idea if he is/was right. Unless you don't mind having to buy the Rockler inserts (there is certainly nothing wrong with them), you may want to check with Rockler or AZ Carbide to check compatibility. A lot has probably changed over the last 6 years.
 

TonyL

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Joined
Mar 9, 2014
Messages
6,398
Location
Alpharetta, GA 30004
I would order the larger ones assuming they are also heavier - but that is a very personal preference. I like the added weight of the tool/handle to help overcome the force of the rotating blank - but that is just me.
 

RProctor

Member
Joined
Jul 8, 2019
Messages
20
Location
Rialto, CA
A friend of mine bought the Rocklers tool and loves them; he has them for close to 6 years. A few times he needed replacement cutter and I offered him my EZ Wood Tool cutters (compatible inserts can also be purchased from AZ Carbide - one of our vendors and real nice people). Anyway, for some reason, my friend stated that the Rockler tools only accepted Rockler inserts. I have no idea if he is/was right. Unless you don't mind having to buy the Rockler inserts (there is certainly nothing wrong with them), you may want to check with Rockler or AZ Carbide to check compatibility. A lot has probably changed over the last 6 years.
Rockler has told me via Facebook that the EWT Round Negative Rake inserts will work on the Rockler mini round tool. I am going tomorrow to discuss the pen ones with them. I really want to get some Negative Rake cutters without buying a new tool. I'll look into AZ Carbide. The Rockler inserts work well however I feel their replacements are overprices at $25 dollars.
 

JimB

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Joined
Mar 18, 2008
Messages
4,518
Location
West Henrietta, NY, USA.
Rockler has told me via Facebook that the EWT Round Negative Rake inserts will work on the Rockler mini round tool. I am going tomorrow to discuss the pen ones with them. I really want to get some Negative Rake cutters without buying a new tool. I'll look into AZ Carbide. The Rockler inserts work well however I feel their replacements are overprices at $25 dollars.
Yikes! That is very expensive for replacement cutters.
 

RProctor

Member
Joined
Jul 8, 2019
Messages
20
Location
Rialto, CA
Yikes! That is very expensive for replacement cutters.
Yep it is. From azcarbide.com equivalent cutters are $11 for the round and $8 for the Squared Radius. Their cross reference chart only mentions the mini tools not the pen tools, however those sets use the same cutters.
 

1shootist

Member
Joined
Dec 2, 2018
Messages
158
Location
Ennis/Waxahachie Texas
I endorse carbide. I first purchased a cheaper (price only) triple set of carbide tools, round, square & diamond from Amazon for roughly $100. This allowed me to try them without a large investment upfront. I had used hss some but didn't take to them at all. The carbide took a few days to adjust to but they are all I use now. I eventually made myself several new tools. I still utilize the same size inserts the original set I purchased used...11mm sq, 12mm rd, 28mm diamond., I found them to be common sizes so in essence readily available and cheaper. I made the bar stock and handles longer aswell as heavier...they are easier to control.
 

jttheclockman

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Joined
Feb 22, 2005
Messages
12,349
Location
NJ, USA.
I believe carbide does have a place in the turning world I like to use the carbide on acrylics and turning segmented blanks to a point where I switch to a well honed skew. I believe this tool is the perfect tool for making pens of all types. If mastered and not that hard, it is the one tool that can take you from turning to finishing and skip the sanding which many times is important when trying to avoid wood contamination. I also believe that the longer tools are way better for control because you can anchor them against your body if need be. I do have a set of HSS small tools for detail work when I do finials for my birdhouses. They are not carbide and would not get those. Just my opinion.
 
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