Shop Made Lathe Tools

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Project by PPK posted 11-14-2018 05:13 AM 617 views 1 time favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I recently got the Harbor Freight lathe, and have been doing a little more turning. Nothing too fancy, mainly handles for things. I’ve seen a lot of guys using the carbide cutters, so I decided to give them a try. I love making tools, and the cost of the “good’’ carbide tools is $100 plus each. I think I have about $40 total into all three of these. It was a really fun build, and turned out as well as I hoped.

-The woods are Wenge (dark one), Hickory and Walnut (the stripey one), and Bluegum (the reddish one)
-Carbide cutters are from Amazon. Yofotul brand, if I recall. Chinese I’m sure
-The steel is just 7/16” cold rolled steel round rod. I heated the shafts, and wiped on boiled linseed oil to blacken them. I tapped the ends with a simple tap and die set.
-The ferrules are brass compression fittings from.
-They’re finished with oil wax.
-Shafts glued in with epoxy

Some build photos:

I actually ended up cutting off the ends and re-doing the notches. They weren’t flat enough/too deep in this picture.

Heating and oiling:


Hickory/Walnut blank

Wenge blank

I figured cutting little divots in the shaft would give the epoxy something to grab onto and keep the shaft from rotating or coming out.

-- Pete

8 comments so far

View ralbuck's profile


5379 posts in 2463 days

#1 posted 11-14-2018 05:31 AM

Very nicely made.
I have the H-F mini and it is a fine little machine; especially when it was cheaper than I could find even junky used ones for!

-- Wood rescue is good for the environment and me! just rjR

View jeff's profile


1119 posts in 3661 days

#2 posted 11-14-2018 07:24 AM

Nice looking handles.

-- Jeff,Tucson,Az.

View Dave Polaschek's profile

Dave Polaschek

2820 posts in 779 days

#3 posted 11-14-2018 11:18 AM

Nice handles, Pete! It’s nice using a tool you made yourself, too. You should get years of use out of them.

-- Dave - Minneapolis

View stefang's profile


16123 posts in 3531 days

#4 posted 11-14-2018 12:49 PM

These look great. It’s quite an advantage to have metal working skills.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View TonyArru's profile


60 posts in 2411 days

#5 posted 11-14-2018 01:58 PM

Pretty good build…Im curious to know how those carbide cutters hold up, I looked very closely at buying this same brand cutters but ultimately (I ran out of time for a project) and ended up buying a hollowing tool from one of the more expensive companies…But in the future, Id like to make my own as well. As long as we (turners) can source better valued quality tools, its a win win. Please update us in time if you can!
Thanks for sharing.

View drbyte's profile


816 posts in 4259 days

#6 posted 11-14-2018 03:55 PM

Great job! Fine looking handles and excellent work. What size did you tap the screw hole? Is it SAE or Metric? I save old shock-absorbers for rod like this, have made several of my own chisels with them. Some times I’ve used square metal-lathe bits in a round hole in them with a set screw. They are pretty durable also. Old jack-handles/lug-wrenches, the old “L” shaped ones make good lathe tools also, very hard, and they have the bend in them already for some special purpose tool like a bowl or hollowing chisel that needs a little bend to it. I used old files years ago but so many people had them shatter that I quit doing that. Keep up the good work and that lathe will serve you for years to come. My first lathe was a home-built and we used it for years.

-- Dennis, WV

View Andre's profile


2195 posts in 2002 days

#7 posted 11-14-2018 04:00 PM

Nice looking handles, while I find the carbide cutters work well, I’m always grabbing a HSS gouge still to do most my cutting. I had bought the easy wood set to start off and actually like the detail, diamond shape cutter for a lot of the finishing touches. Do have to agree with the consensus, cleaner cut with sharp HSS.

-- Lifting one end of the plank.

View Gittyup's profile


149 posts in 2153 days

#8 posted 11-17-2018 12:58 AM

Nice job on making those tools! They look quite nice and functional.

-- tel

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