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Forum topic by Jack Lewis posted 06-29-2016 06:17 PM 488 views 1 time favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Jack Lewis

65 posts in 497 days

06-29-2016 06:17 PM

I use forstner bits to start hollowing on dry hardwood blanks, e.i.. Mesquite, Eucalyptus, etc. My Q’s is; Is it normal for them to dull as rapidly as mine are? Or are mine just cheaper bits? Do top of the line bits dull rapidly? I try sharpening them with a diamond hone to not much improvement. Is there a better way to sharpen? Would the expense of carbide bits be an economical alternative. Thanks in advance for ideas and comments.

-- "Now we are getting no where, thanks to me"

6 replies so far

View soob's profile


223 posts in 627 days

#1 posted 06-29-2016 06:19 PM

Lathe tools are easy to sharpen and are made of high speed steel. Cheap forstner bits are hard to sharpen and are made of softer carbon steel.

No good reason to use forstner bits for hollowing, unless you just can’t get in there with other tools.

View Wildwood's profile


1850 posts in 1553 days

#2 posted 06-29-2016 07:42 PM

I found a forstner drill bit speed chart online and used it when drilling. Found backing out often at the right speed helps a lot. Several sites & videos on line demonstrate how to sharpen all styles of FB’s.

Dry hardwoods are tough on drill bits so need constant touch up!

Have a imported 16 saw tooth bit titanium coated FB set that runs from ¼” to 2 1/8”. They dull and need a touch up as often as carbon steel bits. That set is really old now and have been abusing them for years. Use both for lathe & drill press drilling and only takes few seconds with diamond file for touch up on chip breaker. Have wore away titanium coating on chip breaker & teeth.

See those imported titanium coated forstner bits not as popular these days. I have started looking for HSS bit set with hex shanks.

Think would need a diamond file to touch up carbide bits as well. Yes probably better than carbon, HSS, & titanium coated bits.

-- Bill

View Madrona's profile


14 posts in 314 days

#3 posted 06-29-2016 11:46 PM

I also use forstner bits quite often to start hollowing, just saves time. I have what most (including me) would consider to be a cheap set from MLCS. I’ve been using them for many, many years and have never sharpened any of them, yet. I think speed is the main factor. You just can’t let them get too hot or they will dull, quickly.

-- Living In The Woods Of Beautiful Bonney Lake, Washington

View bigJohninvegas's profile


181 posts in 881 days

#4 posted 06-30-2016 01:22 AM

I agree with slowing the speed down and not letting them get to hot.
I have a forstner set from harbor freight, and a brad point set from mlcs.
When hollowing, I have used both. 5/8 brad bit most of the time.
I am happy with both sets, and really suprised the harbor freight set has lasted so long.
I have only had to sharpen one of the forstner bits. I did a job where I had to drill 40 holes.
Maybe if I had taken an extra break to cool off the bit. Still impressive for harbor freight.
I sharpen with this little diamond credit card I got from James Barry.
I think the second video shows how to sharpen carbide cutters, and bits

Here is a link to the sharpening set in The videos.
I got this set to use with my turning tools, but have found I’m sharpening all sorts of tools with it.

-- John

View MacNut11's profile


29 posts in 1455 days

#5 posted 06-30-2016 04:22 AM

Mine came from Trendlines decades ago. Made in Germany, pretty good Forstner bits. I also have a few carbide tipped Freud’s but not sure if they still make them or not.

Just checked and Freud still makes steel and carbide tip FB. It doesn’t say if the steel ones are carbon or high speed, my guess is carbon but they are made in Austria.

View devann's profile


2199 posts in 2111 days

#6 posted 06-30-2016 06:26 AM

Carbide tools, whatever they are, saw blades, drill bits, router bits, etc…. are cheaper in the long run.

-- Darrell, making more sawdust than I know what to do with

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