Lathe Chisel Recommendation

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Forum topic by MOJOE posted 12-26-2012 12:28 AM 2992 views 0 times favorited 32 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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548 posts in 3441 days

12-26-2012 12:28 AM

Topic tags/keywords: question lathe

I received a Rikon 12×16 VS from my girlfriend today… I need some chisels! I’d like some recommendations from the experienced folks. I would like a “decent” set that I can learn on, but that I won’t constantly have at the grinder for sharpening. I would also like to keep the cost reasonable…...I know, I know, you get what you pay for, so I guess I looking “middle of the road” at this point. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks, and I hope everyone had a wonderful Holiday,

-- Measuring twice and cutting once only works if you read the tape correctly!

32 replies so far

View bobasaurus's profile


3539 posts in 3356 days

#1 posted 12-26-2012 12:50 AM

The narex or woodriver might be a good basic set to start with. A little higher end would be the new run of stanley sweetheart 750 chisels.

-- Allen, Colorado (Instagram @bobasaurus_woodworking)

View ShaneA's profile


7043 posts in 2770 days

#2 posted 12-26-2012 12:59 AM

Rockler had a 6pc Sorby set of lathe chisels on sale recently, not sure if they still are. (hope I spelled it right) offers reasonably priced carbide options. Other LJs have recommended them.

View RussellAP's profile


3104 posts in 2458 days

#3 posted 12-26-2012 03:44 AM

Basically there are two types of steel for chisels, I can’t recall their names but one is high speed steel and the other is harder and likely carbide.
If you are beginning, then it’s best to get used to sharpening chisels and develop a good system, they need sharpening often unless you like flying hunks of wood.
HSS are good, a good bowl gouge and a Versa Chisel is a must. Beyond that I don’t really use much except some round side scrapers.
This is the set I started with.

-- A positive attitude will take you much further than positive thinking ever will.

View BentheViking's profile


1782 posts in 2736 days

#4 posted 12-26-2012 03:59 AM

ive got my eye on these narex chisels as a set that i want and would probably be what you’d like. Not high end, but not junk. I’d love to get them but right now im not really doing much hand work.

-- It's made of wood. Real sturdy.--Chubbs Peterson

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1782 posts in 2736 days

#5 posted 12-26-2012 04:01 AM

oh shoot i should have read that more carefully…i thought you were looking for regular chisels not lathe chisels. Got me there!

-- It's made of wood. Real sturdy.--Chubbs Peterson

View rum's profile


148 posts in 2758 days

#6 posted 12-26-2012 05:37 AM

For a starter set either the PSI “Benjamins Best” or better HF set ( are pretty good. The other alternative is to go carbide and get a set of the “easy wood tools” chisels or one of their competitors (hint they aren’t the cheapest, but I’m to lazy to search more at the moment). I’ve never used the easy tools (I have one carbide crook neck from another mnf) but folks who use them seem to like them a lot. The advantage of traditional tools is that they are somewhat more flexible, but you do need to sharpen them more/a LOT (consider you’re cutting something like ~10k feet per hour with a lathe chisel, imagine if your hand plane covered that much wood). Sharpening pretty much requires a grinder (the woodcraft 8” slow speed is semi often on sale for around $100 and is perfectly good). Some of the higher end HSS tools do hold their edge slightly better, but you still have to sharpen them a lot so cheaper chisels to start with until you get your sharpening technique down are imho a smarter move so you don’‘t chew up an 1” of a $100 chisel trying to fix a grinding oops (not that I’ve done that.. but I have this friend see .. ;D)

For traditional starters (if you don’t get a set) I’d recommend: – 1” skew chisel – 3/4” roughing gouge – 3/8” spindle detail gouge – 1/8” parting tool – 1/2” or 5/8” bowl gouge – 1/2” round scraper, maybe a flat scraper as well

I don’t have real suggestions on the carbide, but if you go that route I think you’ll at least also want a parting tool.

You’ll undoubtedly want more before to long :). In case you haven’t figured this out yet the lathe is the cheapest part :D

Also PLEASE PLEASE get a face shield and wear it!!! Another turner was just killed when a piece came off of the lathe and hit him in the face!! :O The Uvex Bionics is priced competitively and works quite well.

+Also if you can please do get some help/training, a local club can likely hook you up with a mentor (or if you are really lucky there is still adult education available at the local HS, but thats sadly becoming vanishingly rare). There are a few major no-no’s that can cause serious and permanent injury very very fast (do not use a spindle gouge on bowls or any other wood where end grain is rotating into the tool, instant and vicious catch; always start with the tool on the rest; and … more).

View tamboti's profile


207 posts in 3313 days

#7 posted 12-26-2012 08:02 AM

Hi Read rum’s advice carefully one of the best pieces of advice I have seen on forums regarding beginers in along time.
There are three types of lathe tools Carbon Steel don’t hold an edge for long High Speed Steel these hold a edge for a lot longer. Then there is Carbide / Tungsten which IMHO are just plane old scrappers where the other two are tools that cut the wood and give you the thrill of seeing shaving and long ones when you turn green wood. Regards Tamboti

PS turning is addictive and there is no known cure so beware but please do enjoy it and no pictures it did not happen

-- Africa is not for sissies

View MNgary's profile


303 posts in 2589 days

#8 posted 12-26-2012 01:13 PM

When I began turning, Mojoe, I started building my collection of Sorby turning tools slowly; but immediately purchased a cheap ( I think I paid $17.95) set of 5 tools that I knew would go dull very fast and not provide the smooth turnings I wanted. But I felt the cheapies would provide ample opportunity to develop my sharpening skills, which they certainly did. For me, I also discovered by using the low-grade steel tools that I was not interested in having a lot of scrapers but, instead, would focus on having gouges and chisels.

I didn’t undertake any projects with the inexpensive tools. I only focused on developing turning technique and skill in hand sharpening (didn’t have the interest in spending hundreds of dollars on mechanical sharpening machines and jigs). After a short time I acquired both sharpening skill and awareness of what turning tools I would need so I could begin building a collection of quality tools.

-- I dream of a world where a duck can cross the road and no one asks why.

View dhazelton's profile


2789 posts in 2469 days

#9 posted 12-26-2012 01:38 PM

I have the Harbor Freight set and they are fine. Even after my attempt at sharpening I feel like I make more sawdust than curly cues, so I have been thinking about the carbide tools. If you can afford a couple Of carbide chisels I would look at those first. You will spend more time turning and less time and money on sharpening systems. I suppose it’s like learning to rebuild a carburetor even though you can afford fuel injection – it’ nice to know, but….

View Danpaddles's profile


573 posts in 2484 days

#10 posted 12-26-2012 02:12 PM

This guy has a very reasonably priced carbide tool, I’ve been tempted myself, although I do not find sharpening onerous.

Lots of choices here

Certainly do not go for less than high speed steel (HSS designation) in any case. And you need a grinder, or maybe rig a wheel on the back side of your head stock. Someone makes a jig. But Craigslist has grinders all the time around here. Then, buy a higher quality wheel for it.

A band saw is helpful as a back up tool, to knock off corners and cut logs down to size.

Yes, turning is addictive, one of the most enjoyable sensations in woodworking. Love to see the wood fly, and the project take shape right under your hands. Always new projects to try, new technique to learn. Not real noisy, and makes more chips than fine dust.

-- Dan V. in Indy

View rum's profile


148 posts in 2758 days

#11 posted 12-26-2012 10:07 PM


If you are making sawdust you have one of two problems (probably both :D):

- your tool is to dull. You can get the HF tools sharp enough and I’d work on doing that before dropping more dollars.

- You aren’t presenting the cutting edge correctly. Go get a stack of cheap 2×2’s and just practice making them round until you can get shavings to spin off of them. When you’re in the right spot the shavings will just fly off even if the tool is a bit dull with this softer wood. The very little I’ve played with carbide I actually find it harder to get the right angle because I don’t have the reference bevel on the backside. Once you know how the tool SHOULD cut its easier to make other tools do what you want.

Take the chisels and with the lathe OFF cut some shavings off of the work. Once you do that and see what the correct angle for the tool is to make a shaving try the same angle and altitude (angle is left/right, altitude is the tool handle up/down) with the lathe on. You should be able to get curlies (at least small ones) pretty quickly by going back and forth that way. Do this with each tool and you’ll start to figure out how they work pretty quickly.

Eddie is the other carbide tool dealer I was thinking off but couldn’t remember after a few eggnogs last night, thanks for digging that up. He is generally well regarded and reported to treat folks fair.

Today the only use I can see for Carbon steel is for shop made tools like ? (hook) shaped bowl cutters or other specialty tools. Any of the HSS steel tools are going to be “pretty good” compared to what you could get a generation ago. When I took my first class we sharpened all of the lathe tools on slip stones.. man that was tedious!!

I should have added that the woodcraft 8” slow speed comes with good enough wheels. They aren’t perhaps as nice as the Norton or a CBN, but you’re paying close to the same price for a decent set of wheels and a grinder as a set of wheels would normally cost.

View SCOTSMAN's profile


5849 posts in 3757 days

#12 posted 12-26-2012 10:17 PM

IMHO for what it’s worth don’t buy a cheap set you just get junk.I advocate getting a good set not neccesarily the most expensive but there is no such thing as a starter set,just what does that imply when you get proficient you buy a better set? That’s just a waste of money .Better buy a good used than a new starter set.Definitely don’t buy carbide woodturning chisels they will blunt more quickly and sharpening is or becomes a constant chore get hss and stick with them Plenty of people sell their hss tools when giving up on what seems to be a hobby not best suited to them.Selling used carbide tools will be harder if you change your mind re turning a good set of hss will get you most of your money back.Don’t waste time and money get what you need from the get go IMHO or 2 cents worth.Alistair

-- excuse my typing as I have a form of parkinsons disease

View MOJOE's profile


548 posts in 3441 days

#13 posted 12-27-2012 01:41 PM

Well Folks,
I went with the Ben’s Best set of 8 from PSI…...while on their site, I also picked up a bottle stopper mandrel and some stoppers, as well as a 5-6 roll box of sand paper. I also found a drill chuck locally. Tamboti…..guess you were right, the lathe does appear to be the smallest part of the investment….oh well, haven’t turned since high school, and can’t wait for my shipment to arrive!

Thanks Everyone,

-- Measuring twice and cutting once only works if you read the tape correctly!

View MOJOE's profile


548 posts in 3441 days

#14 posted 12-27-2012 01:42 PM

Btw….since I’ll be sharping here, I’m also considering the “wolverine” system to add to my current grinder (with some better quality wheels).......thoughts on this set-up?

-- Measuring twice and cutting once only works if you read the tape correctly!

View lew's profile


12380 posts in 3927 days

#15 posted 12-27-2012 03:51 PM

Here’s a jig that may be what you are looking for-

-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

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