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Turning Tools

Turning tools are used on lathes for cutting or finishing the outside diameter of a workpiece. Turning tools can be used to produce cylindrical parts. In its basic form, turning can be defined as the machining of an external surface with the workpiece rotating, or with a single-point cutting tool.

Wood turning tools are designed to combat the torque problem commonly found when using simple, bent tools to hollow vessels on a lathe. The best lathe cutting tool is made from high speed steel. When a lathe cutting tool removes metal, it applies considerable tangential force to the workpiece. To safely perform a facing operation with a lathe cutting tool, the end of the workpiece must be as close as possible to the jaws of a chuck. In machining hard work materials, the back rake angle must be small, even negative for carbide and diamond tools.

For high-speed steels, a back rake angle is normally chosen in the positive range. The range of turning tools includes boring bars, which can be used for internal shouldering, grooving, and profiling for producing complex profiles in one continuous cycle. Boring is generally used for the enlarging of an existing hole. For turning tool sharpening, a power sharpening system or a hand sharpening system can be used. Turning tools can also be hand-made and can be used for ease of use and productivity. Turning tools are designed and manufactured to meet most industry specifications.


Turning tools are generally made from steel, carbon steel, high speed steel, and powdered metal. To use turning tools for a turning operation, three primary factors need to be considered: speed, feed, and depth of cut. Other factors, such as material and type of tool, also have a large influence.

  • Speed refers to the spindle and the workpiece.
  • Feed refers to the cutting tool, and it is the rate at which the tool advances along its cutting path.
  • Depth of cut is the thickness of the layer being removed from the workpiece or the distance from the uncut surface of the work to the cut surface.

Types of Turning Tools

Spindle Roughing Gouges

We use this to take down the square corners, remove the unwanted parts to cut the initial weights, and give the workpiece the primary round form. Rouging gouge comes with a wide “U” shaped fluted blade only to remove woods from spindles. They are not for turning bowls.

Spindle Gouges

After the rough cut, you need to start shaping the log and creating more details like coves or beads with a spindle gouge. So, you don’t need the roughing gouge after that. If you watch closely, you will see the difference between the flute size of the the spindle gouge and roughing gouge. The flute of the roughing gouge is wider than the regular spindle gouges.


After making the primary form, it’s time to plan the wood. So, skew chisels are optimal for planning the woods and making the surface flat and as smooth as possible. The use of chisels is the difficult part that needs practice and patience to master.

Parting Tools

This is also very important. Parting tools allow you to separate any unwanted materials from your workpiece with intense detail. They will help with making a thin line on the workpiece. People often called them final cut tools. The types of parting tools are- Rectangular, Diamond, Fluted, Square. Each of them is unique, and it depends on what you are planning to design. Other Woodworking Tools As Planer Blades.

Purchase a set or buy seperately?

There’s a bit of a phenomena with buying sets of lathe chisels for woodturning no matter what company they come from, and that’s quality. The popular narrative between the pros and cons of buying the best wood lathe tools set is that it’s collectively less expensive. Additionally, having access to different types of chisel types is essential to learning how to use them. Not only that, but carving wood with these tools and sharpening them wear them down over time. Knowing how the tools work before getting really good quality tools that wear down over time is a productive choice.

The contradicting notion being that purchasing tools individually is more beneficial financially because the quality of the tools are more significant and last longer. Some believe that while using the tools and sharpening most certainly consumes more steel in the learning stages, but not enough to warrant choosing cheap steel over quality. If you are more interested in going this route, then start out with getting a roughing gouge, diamond parting tool, a skew, and 1-2 different sized gouges for whatever type of woodturning you’re looking to do.

Ultimately, this is preference, and each have their own pros and cons. I will say that purchasing separately is more preferable when you know how to use the tools, and know what you’re looking for. However, there will be sizes and gouges in sets that you’ll more than likely rarely use. If the average cost per product isn’t a concern of yours, then purchase individually. Otherwise, buying a full set to practice with is a better option.

Safety Note: As the name implies, the spindle roughing gouge should be used only for spindle work—when the piece is mounted between centers with the grain running parallel to the ways of the lathe. It should never be used on a bowl or other workpiece mounted with the grain running perpendicular to the lathe bed. While this tool has a relatively large cutting edge, it also has a short, weak tang (the part inserted into the tool handle). Crossgrain work such as bowls present endgrain to the cutting edge, and the spindle roughing gouge is not made to withstand the associated forces. The tang could break, resulting in serious injury.