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Thread: Buying lathe tools

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2008

    Buying lathe tools

    Ok so I have been looking back in the threads here and on line for turning tools.
    The question is where is the best place to get them from? Some times a buck or two cheaper is not always the best deal.So lets hear it where did you guys buy from and was the perches smooth? Or a nightmare?
    Would you buy from them again?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Tokyo Japan
    Chuck, I've had nothing but great service from >> Craft Supplies USA <<

    They have a ton of products and their service is great.

    Otherwise, I've always liked Lee Valley.

    The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.
    William Arthur Ward

  3. #3
    I've gotten good deals on Sorby tools from The Best Things and great service too.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Ladysmith, Wisconsin
    From a woodturner who makes his own tools.

    You do have to make your own handle for these. But you won`t get a better steel grade anywhere else. He also makes these in his home shop. So at times he gets sold out.
    Last edited by Duane Stolldorf; 03-24-2008 at 02:07 PM. Reason: forgot to add more info.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Villa Park, CA
    I'll expand on Chuck's question and ask the experienced turners here - "What turning tools should a turner have?"

    I'm an occasional turner who turns mostly for furniture (spindle turning) and a few bowls and boxes (not hollow forms).

    I have the following:
    1" roughing gouge
    1" skew
    1" round nose scraper
    5/8" bowl gouge
    1/2" spindle gouge
    Parting tool

    I manage to get everything done that I want to do but are there any other tools I would find useful?

    Ancora imparo
    Go into the world and do well. But more importantly, go into the world and do good.

  6. #6

    I'm not a master turner by any stretch so I feel a little tentative jumping in here, but as they say "I'll bet you're gonna tell me anyway aren't-cha?" I've gotten pulled in by the powder metallurgy steels...Packard sells them as ASP 2030 and ASP 2060...they're made by Hamlet Craft Tools in England and private labeled for Packard. Crown Tools also has a few tools in their line made from a similar processed steel...they call them Crown Pro-PM. What intrigued me about this steel was the claims about edge-holding ability...these claims seem to be backed up by independent sources. Anyway, I've discovered that if I want to turn I'd better keep my grinder nearby and all suited up with its turning tool jigs...sharpening is an undeniable fact of turning life. So I thought maybe if I spend some extra bucks per tool (they are definitely pricey) I wouldn't be standing in front of the grinder so often keeping them sharp. That's been my motivation, and we now come to the end of my usefulness on this thread because I don't have years of experience with hss turning tools to be able to offer a comparison. I can say that I've been happy with these, but maybe I'd have been just as happy with a tool fashioned from the tine of a garden rake. I think they're worth a least you can say yeah I looked at those and they're not for me.

    As far as vendor support, I think both Packard (The Woodturners Source) and Craft Supplies offer excellent service. I'd probably give the nod to Packard, but then we're both on the same coast. If you're going to stick with hss then Lee Valley also has excellent service as well as The Best Things.


  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    ABQ NM
    Chuck, in order of my preference:

    Thompson Lathe Tools - - I've not had any gouges that held an edge like these. Powdered metal, cryogenically treated. And the price is very reasonable compared to other tools made of similar metals.

    Craft Supplies USA - - CSUSA gets a slight nod from me over Packard simply because they are closer to the West Coast so shipping is a bit faster and less expensive.

    Packard Woodworks - - No bad experiences with these folks at all, but they are on the other side of the country from me.

    The Thompson stuff is unique and only available from him. For other tools, I check both CSUSA and Packard to see if there's a significant price difference between the two.
    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
    When the weird get going, they start their own forum. - Vaughn McMillan

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Cedar Park, TX
    While I've gotten a couple "sets" from online places, most of my good ones have been gotten at Woodcraft. I have little enough experience in wood turning that holding a tool in my hand before I lay money down is still important to me. Most of mine are Crown with a few Sorby's. It may be my inexperience, but I really can't tell the difference in their use.

    That being said, I've found it useful on some occassions to make a custom tool for a special purpose, so I've picked up and made use of several cheap carbon steel sets for modification. Also, cheap HSS sets from HF etc make decent tools for modifying to a specific shape for one or another purpose.

    "If politics wasn't built on careful deception it wouldn't need its own word and techniques. It would just be called honesty, education, and leadership."
    Bob "Phydeaux" Stewart one day on Woodnet

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Independence Ky
    Hello Chuck,
    I am new at turning also, I took the advice that Jerry suggested and got a 7 piece set at HF for around $15. I am happy with this set for now, I think as I get better I will upgrade. I had to put a new edge on this set but they work fine.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Mountain Home, Arkansas
    Quote Originally Posted by Brad Hungler View Post
    Hello Chuck,
    I am new at turning also, I took the advice that Jerry suggested and got a 7 piece set at HF for around $15. I am happy with this set for now, I think as I get better I will upgrade. I had to put a new edge on this set but they work fine.
    The HF, and other El Cheapo, tools can be alright, especially considering the price. Steels vary. So some will be as fine as the expensive stuff. And some might be agonizingly soft. But, on caveat. Do check the tang length. Some imports have very-very short tangs which provide virtually no strength when turning. Pull one and check. If it is only 1" long, pitch the whole works. If they are 3-4" long, they are OK.

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