|Review by lumberjoe||posted 08-14-2012 01:17 AM||9093 views||3 times favorited||37 comments|
I very recently got into turning. I have 2 nice Sorby’s gouges and an Easy Rougher. My wife LOVES the easy rougher, I’m not sure if it is my technique or if it is designed for righties (I am a lefty), but I find I have much more control and can turn much better with a traditional gouge. After putting some miles on the Sorbys, it came down to the feared sharpening time. I bought an 8” grinder and made a jig, but was still very nervous about putting that very expensive steel to the stone wheels. I have never sharpened anything with a grinder. While in Harbor Freight, I saw this set of 8 HSS lathe tools. It was on sale for 44$ and of course I had a coupon. I picked them up with the intention to ruin them on a grinder while I got my technique down and dialed in my jig.
For a cheap throw away box, it’s actually kind of nice. The wood is crappy, but the construction is great. It’s very solid. The felt lining was a big surprise too. I really don’t care about the boxes my tools come in, and I don’t keep these in a box anyway, but I figured I would include that detail for others. I was disappointed in the handles at first. The stock photo is different. These handles are of decent quality, but the finish (stain) is really blotchy. I have no idea what kind of “hardwood” it is, but it is definitely hard, and definitely wood. They are pretty comfortable and long. They are marked “HSS” and the quality of the steel looks pretty nice. The grinds are very even. I’m not sure what rockwell they are hardened to as it is not mentioned.
1” and 3/4” roughing gouges
1/8” parting tool
1/2” and 1” skew chisels
1/2” round nose scraper
1/2” beveled scraper
1/4” spindle gouge
Before I even put these to wood, I practiced sharpening the 1” roughing gouge. I watched a lot of videos and did a lot of research on sharpening. I marked the entire bevel and below the bevel with a sharpie, lined up the jig about 100 times, crossed my fingers and turned on the grinder. 2 passes across the 60 grit wheel revealed all my sharpie marks gone on the bevel, and remaining everywhere else. SWEET!
I chucked up a piece of hard maple. I have never seen chips fly like that. For once I was glad I wear full face protection because I was showered in chips. I’ve turned down a good amount of scraps and never had anything cut like that before. I was impressed. I then took the 3/4” right out of the box and took it to a fresh piece of maple. No chip shower, but it wasn’t any sharper or duller than my sorbys. I sharpened that one up with the same method and again, chips galore.
I then turned 6 pens (hitting the bushings on each one) and about 15 more pieces of hard maple just playing with my technique. These still send chips flying over my head effortlessly. I haven’t needed to touch these up yet.
I bought these to ruin them with a grinder. That didn’t happen. What did happen is I am wondering why I paid almost 5 times this amount for 2 tools. If there is something wrong with these, I can’t find it. Good quality HSS that takes an edge well and so far has held an edge much longer than I expected. I am still new to turning, but hard maple is really rough on my other tools, especially chisels, and hasn’t slowed these down at all yet. Go out and grab a set. If for nothing else, change the grinds on some of them. At this price you really cannot lose. Now that I have a lathe, I will be making some nice handles for them. That sounds like a fun project. These are fully functional and quite comfortable, but as I mentioned the color is a little off, and I like to customize my stuff anyway.