Carbide Turning tools - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 20 Old 01-23-2020, 06:50 PM Thread Starter
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Carbide Turning tools

I have been looking at these lately. They seem so much easier to use than HSS,,,donít need sharpening,,,,there are several brand, I have been looking at the RIkon brand.
Anybody have opinions on carbide tools?
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post #2 of 20 Old 01-23-2020, 07:53 PM
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I use both carbide and HSS, and I like both. I switch between them as I work. Sometimes I use the the carbide when I am lazy about sharpening the HSS tools. I have three of the full-size Rockler turning tools: Square Radius, Round, and Diamond. They are good, but not great. I bought them because I like the way they feel. They are on sale now through 30 January 2020. They go on sale from time to time through the year.

Here are a few hints about carbide turning tools, based on my experience with the Rockler carbide turning tools:

* Carbide tools and corresponding tips come in different sizes. I have the full size tools, but I could have bought "mini" versions, or even smaller "pen turning tools." The carbide tips on mini and pen turning tools are smaller than the full size tips. The smaller tips let you turn finer details, the larger tips are useful for larger turnings like bowls. I use the full size tools with the larger tips on pens anyway, and they work for me.

* The tip must match the tool. You can't put a round carbide tip in a square handle, for example. That's because the end of the handle is shaped perfectly to engage and support the back of the tip.
One exception:
You can fit a square tip in the square radius tool. It isn't a perfect fit, but it is so close that it works. You CANNOT fit a square radius tip in a square tool, however.

* Carbide can get pretty sharp, but high speed steel (HSS) tools can be made sharper. The HSS tools don't stay sharp nearly as long as carbide.

* My Carbide Sharpness Cycle is:
- A short period of amazingly sharp.
- A very long period of "Sharp enough to use, but not as sharp as I really like. That's carbide. Get over it."
- A short period of "not quite dull enough to rotate yet."
- A brief period of "what is wrong with my turning today?"
- Followed by rotating or replacing the tip.

* You can extend the life of carbide tips by flattening the backs on diamond stones and waterstones. It works okay for me. Not quite a new tip, but pretty darn good.

* You don't have to buy carbide tips from the original manufacturer or seller. There are very good third-party sellers - search for them. I have used Arizona Carbide in the past. It is a small business owned by good people:
https://azcarbide.com

* Everyone says that carbide tools can only be used as scrapers. I don't believe them. Sometimes I reposition the tool rest and use them in bevel-rubbing mode and they do well. They can cut long sexy ribbons just like HSS turning tools.

* I have never found a consensus on which carbide tools are used for what. Some people use the square radius tool for roughing and the round tool for finer work, while others do the opposite. Find what works for you.

* The square tool is tricky. The corners can leave lines on your turnings without a lot of practice. The square radius tool is much easier to learn. I would recommend a square radius tool rather than a square tool. You can try a square tip in the square radius tool.

* Some people make their own tools and buy the tips. Sometimes they buy the metal portion but make their own handles. I have seen some amazing turning tool handles!

* Shop around!! There are worse tools and better tools than the ones I use. Do your homework!

* The smallest turning tool sets do not always have all carbide turning tools. Several sources sell "pen turning kits" with two carbide turning tools and one HSS parting tool instead of the usual diamond carbide tool.

* Links
Here are the carbide turning tools I use, for reference only!! The same tools are sold under multiple names (e.g. Savannah). I chose them not because they are the best carbide turning tools, but because I like the way they feel in my hands when I work with them:
https://www.rockler.com/full-size-sq...e-turning-tool
https://www.rockler.com/full-size-ro...e-turning-tool
https://www.rockler.com/full-size-di...e-turning-tool
Sale until 30 January 2020 (Latecomers: They will go on sale again from time to time):
https://www.rockler.com/rockler-prom...ing-tool-promo

I hope this helps.
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Last edited by Tool Agnostic; 01-23-2020 at 07:56 PM.
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post #3 of 20 Old 01-23-2020, 09:18 PM
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What Tool Agnostic said is correct. I sharpen my carbide cutters often because as we all know sharp tools cut better. Also, they are easier to sharpen when they are not so dull. I have a little diamond plate that is about 1" wide and maybe 3" long. It takes me about a minute to sharpen a cutter.


https://www.sharpeningsupplies.com/D...tone-P319.aspx
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post #4 of 20 Old 01-25-2020, 09:59 AM
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I have EasyWood tools as well as HSS tools. The edge you can get on a HSS tool is better than carbide, But the carbide tools are very convenient for certain tasks.

I just got the reverse shear cutter for one of my EasyWood tools and it’s amazing. The other carbide tools that are really nice are the Hunter Hercules and Osprey. They work much more like a cutter than a scraper.
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post #5 of 20 Old 01-25-2020, 10:24 AM
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Carbide tools wer introduced as a way for someone to get into turning without having to learn how to sharpen tools right away. Not a bad idea to draw more people into the hobby. And no one is saying you have to go any further than this. But myself, I don't mind sharpening, and I prefer traditional tools. Turning can get expensive. Buy a small lathe and a few tools to get started. But then you decide to learn to sharpen and buy a system. Then you decide it would be nice to have a bandsaw to cut up blanks. Then you realize it would be nice to several types of chucks. It goes on and on, but that's half the fun.
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post #6 of 20 Old 01-25-2020, 08:33 PM Thread Starter
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I have looked at Easy Wood Tools,,,,,Carter products,,, and one other wood handled ones both online and at Woodcraft store. the young man at Woodcraft showed the Rikon system set, and said he has both the Easy Wood, Carter and the Rikon, and favors the Rikon highly,, He likes the changeable handle feature, the weight of the handle, the Ďfeelí of it and the accessories, including some new cutters.

Even though he was. Trying to make a sale, he was still recommending the lower priced option.

Anybody use Rikon system?
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post #7 of 20 Old 01-26-2020, 08:31 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Quickstep View Post
I have EasyWood tools as well as HSS tools. The edge you can get on a HSS tool is better than carbide, But the carbide tools are very convenient for certain tasks.

I just got the reverse shear cutter for one of my EasyWood tools and itís amazing. The other carbide tools that are really nice are the Hunter Hercules and Osprey. They work much more like a cutter than a scraper.
Can you sharpen the reverse shear cutter? From the looks of them, it doesn't look like you can. I have several HSS tools and I am learning how to use them.

Don in Murfreesboro, TN.
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post #8 of 20 Old 02-28-2020, 12:17 PM Thread Starter
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Got the Rikon set, and am very, very happy with it, Easy to use, always sharp,, and I can do anything with them that I could do with traditional tools, even getting nice pretty long shavings.,,,,and for final finishing,,,nice and smooth,,, nothing like them....
And it is so easy to change heads, maybe 4 seconds tops.
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post #9 of 20 Old 03-01-2020, 06:15 AM
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Try this guy for carbide cutters. http://eddiecastelin.com/cutters_only
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post #10 of 20 Old 03-01-2020, 07:33 AM
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As alluded to above, carbide will never get as sharp as HSS can be. For the most part, beginners use them as scrapers not as cutters. A few strokes with a diamond card on my HSS skew and I can cut a surface so smooth, sanding starts with 400 or 600 grit. I went to a demo at Woodcraft a year ago. The guy loved his carbide tools, but there was a lot of raised grain and sanding to correct it.

They undoubtedly have a purpose, but for spindle turning, I'll take HSS or even carbon steel over carbide any day. Yes it dulls faster than Carbide, but it also starts appreciably sharper and leaves an much smoother surface on most woods.

I have a favorite skew chisel that cost me $17 new. I use it almost exclusively for 60% of my turning. even parting. It has already lasted me more than 2 or 3 carbide tips would have and is perhaps an 1/8 inch shorter than when new. It will last longer than me.

Last edited by holtzdreher; 03-01-2020 at 07:43 AM.
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post #11 of 20 Old 03-01-2020, 05:02 PM Thread Starter
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I had used traditional tools for over 40 years, sharpened them well, the whole thing,,,, then my grinder died, so looked for a new low speed grinder,,,and then a new sharpening guide, etc. over $300. So scrap that idea.. started looking at carbides,,,,bought the Rikon system,,,,,very, very happy.. I wonít go back to traditional,,, and the people who have seen and bought my work, say it is wonderful,, perhaps even better.
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post #12 of 20 Old 03-03-2020, 01:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hawkeye10 View Post
Can you sharpen the reverse shear cutter? From the looks of them, it doesn't look like you can. I have several HSS tools and I am learning how to use them.

If it's possible to sharpen the reverse shear cutter, I don't know how. I don't even think the flat ones sharpen all that well. I've done it using a diamond stone, but it didn't make it as sharp as when it was new.
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post #13 of 20 Old 03-03-2020, 03:20 PM
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It all comes down to instant gratification which is very prevalent these days, we buy a tool and expect to start producing right away, often even before reading the manual.

HSS tools are great if you have learned how to use them, this includes sharpening, carbide tools are ready to go. This is not unique to woodworking, same goes for turning metal, many new lathe owners pick up a plastic case with assorted tools and go to work, it may be years before they actually learn to grind a HSS tool so it will cut properly.

Wise men speak because they have something to say; fools because they have to say something -Plato

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post #14 of 20 Old 03-03-2020, 05:37 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FrankC View Post
It all comes down to instant gratification which is very prevalent these days, we buy a tool and expect to start producing right away, often even before reading the manual.

HSS tools are great if you have learned how to use them, this includes sharpening, carbide tools are ready to go. This is not unique to woodworking, same goes for turning metal, many new lathe owners pick up a plastic case with assorted tools and go to work, it may be years before they actually learn to grind a HSS tool so it will cut properly.
Frank, perhaps you arenít referring to my comment, because I used traditional tools for over 40 years and was very proficient at sharpening,,, Like I said my grinder died, and instead of spending a lot of money to replace it, I got carbides..... it was not a case of not learning ,,, it was simply a matter of what works better!! I just finished a ball yesterday, and my wife judged it as almost perfect, she couldnít believe it came out that smooth from just the tools and no sanding,
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post #15 of 20 Old 03-03-2020, 06:54 PM
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No, I was not referring to your comment, just generalizing again. 😀

Wise men speak because they have something to say; fools because they have to say something -Plato

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post #16 of 20 Old 03-03-2020, 08:16 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FrankC View Post
No, I was not referring to your comment, just generalizing again. 😀
Thanks, Frank,, ĎCause I respect your comments,,

If I were starting someone new in turning, I would start them on carbides, particularly the Rikon,,,though, I would tell them about the traditional tools, just like a new driver should know about manual trannys, non power steering, etc.

And the carbides do have a learning curve, which needs to be understood.
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post #17 of 20 Old 03-31-2020, 11:55 PM
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I started with the set of three carbides (discussed above) and the Sorby six piece HSS turning tool set at the same time. It was a great decision. A woodturning expert friend helped me choose my tools, good for a beginner, but also suitable for a long useful life without needing upgrades. I lucked out that the last Sorby set in the store was on closeout at that moment. (It was such good fortune. The store restocked the same sets a month later at the regular price.)

The HSS tools take more time and practice to master, but can lead to better results than carbide. When I first started, I would work with the HSS tools to start, and switch to the carbide tools to clean up (err, "cover up") the mistakes like catches, tear-outs, and chips, once I was close to being done turning the workpiece.

The carbide tools took a lot of the stress away while learning to use the HSS tools. I use them both to this day.
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post #18 of 20 Old 04-01-2020, 07:56 PM
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Every time a reply to this thread pops up, I re-visit my opinion.

After I learned how to use HSS tools a little better, I thought that the money I spent on carbide tools might have been better spent on a variable speed grinder, a CBN wheel and some sharpening jigs. I eventually bought those things anyway and as a result don't use the carbide tools as much as I used to. But, the carbide tools did help get me started.
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post #19 of 20 Old 04-03-2020, 01:00 PM Thread Starter
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That is one of the main reasons I went with carbide. They cost way less than a new grinder, wheel and jigs,,,,,,way less!!!, and they work wonderfully,,,,Learning curve, yes, but there is with HSS also..Carbide is so ease to use,,,,why make it so complicated,,,,,I spend zero time on expensive sharpening tools etc,....I can spent my time turning which for me, is what it si all about..
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post #20 of 20 Old 04-28-2020, 11:06 PM
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Ive been learning with a midi lathe (Jet 1221) and an Easywood set making pens and project kits. I have moved on to include traditional HSS tools but the round Easywood tool is still my go to tool for shaping.

I know how to make sawdust.
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