Mini or Midi Carbide Cutter for Pens??

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Forum topic by alaskagypsy posted 03-08-2015 07:40 AM 1080 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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5 posts in 3369 days

03-08-2015 07:40 AM

Topic tags/keywords: carbide cutter mini midi

I am a disaster at sharpening anything. I can take a new knife, never used and sharpen it to a dull state. So here I am a new wood lathe and looking at the carbide cutters. I can’t see wasting my time sharpening so I think I will go with carbide even though I have a set of regular HSS. I am down to deciding if I should get a Mini or Midi sized cutter. I plan on doing mostly pens and small projects. Pen competition in my area (360 miles to the next biggest city), the guy does all wood pens so am thinking I will go acrylic when I get wood down right. The shorter Mini looks good, but thinking I would get a bit more range with the Midi and still be able to do the pens with no trouble. Or would I be better off with the shorter Mini?? Your thoughts?? Thank you in advance.

-- Ron, Fairbanks, Alaska

7 replies so far

View Wildwood's profile


2529 posts in 2373 days

#1 posted 03-08-2015 11:11 AM

Other than make your own, and turning only pens save some money and Look at Easy Start Tool. You can buy one tool and add either different cutters here! JMHO, would not buy the detailer tool or cutter. Having two tools handles will save you some time not having to switch out cutters as needed.

Easy Start Tool Rougher

Easy Start Finisher

If not sure about turning larger items later on buy the Mid-Size tools!

-- Bill

View BikerDad's profile


347 posts in 3840 days

#2 posted 03-11-2015 04:11 AM

Midi. More range. Unless you’re a small fellah, you’ll likely have more success with the midi.

-- I'm happier than a tornado in a trailer park! Grace & Peace.

View Sparks8286's profile


72 posts in 1728 days

#3 posted 03-11-2015 02:08 PM

I picked up a set of the Easy Start Tools on eBay last year. I was in a similar situation as you with the sharpening. I didn’t have any experience with sharpening these tools, but I also didn’t have the right equipment to sharpen them. Not to mention there are SO many options of metals they’re made from it’s hard to feel comfortable spending a couple hundred (or more) bucks just to find out it’s not good quality. There isn’t a big difference in cost between these and traditional lathe tools and when you factor in the cost of the equipment to sharpen blades vs. replacement blades these end up cheaper in the short run. The Easy Tools have worked well for me and it’s awesome to be able to just loosen a screw and turn the blade to a fresh side. This is especially helpful when dealing with materials like acrylics or tru-stone. They seem to dull the blade a lot quicker than most of the woods I work with.

I only have two complaints about them. 1. The square shaft on these things is thick all the way to the end. Sometimes I feel like it would be easier to change the angle of the cutter to cut along the top of my pen blank (at a sharper angle to the surface I’m cutting at rather than perpendicular, if that makes sense), but I can’t because of the shape of the shaft. 2. The detail tool (the diamond shaped one) that comes with the set has a rounded tip on the cutter. I’d like to have one that comes to a sharp point and another that comes to a very small squared-off end just so I can have more options on my detailing. I could buy the parting tool and use it for the square end, but a different cutter blade is a lot cheaper than a $120 tool and I just can’t get past that.

You can get aftermarket replacement cutters for them that are cheaper. I see no difference between them and the Easy Tool brand. If you’re not planning on doing anything bigger than pens or bottle stoppers you’ll be fine with the mini set. Save yourself the money if you don’t see the need to spend it. And you can always upgrade later too. If you want to go bigger than that I’d recommend the midi.

Send me a PM. I’ve got some things I’ve found to help make my pens different from ones other people around me are selling. It’s really helped my sales. You’re in Alaska and I’m in Virginia. I don’t think I’m in any danger of you stealing any of my business so I don’t mind sharing it with you.

-- If you can't fix it with a hammer, you have an electrical problem.

View jusfine's profile


2422 posts in 3165 days

#4 posted 03-11-2015 02:35 PM

I also vote for the Midi size, really enjoy using them for pens.

-- Randy "You are judged as much by the questions you ask as the answers you give..."

View moke's profile


1279 posts in 3015 days

#5 posted 03-11-2015 05:43 PM

I would go for the Midi, or even full size. It’s about control and comfort. It is more difficult to control the little cutters….your positions have to be exaggerated. I would however not give up on traditional lathe tools. Learn to sharpen….buy DVD’s….you tubes…etc. If you advance in your turning, you are severly hindering/limiting yourself with using ONLY carbide tools. Having said that, I have purchased and made many. I love them, they have their place, but the world is full of different lathe tools, you might be happy with the results.

I have a lot of sharpening stuff, way too much, I learned the hard way. Being the tool snob that I am, I was not about to use cheap turning tools….I was way wrong….I messed up a lot of dollars worth of tools, ground them wrong and ruined a lot of turnings because my tools did not work well. I finally broke down and bought th HF set and learned to grind on them. The whole time I was learning to grind, I was turning with my carbide tools, but I was a little frustrated that I could not do some of the techiques that I had seen. In the mean time, I am messing up tools and grinding wheels. I finally found a turning club that would mentor, and saw that CSUSA had these example ends ( not capable of being used for turning) so that I could see what a well ground tool should look like. I balanced my grinding wheels and used the wolverine set, I had swore at so much, by what I saw on the dvd’s…..believe it or not, I now look forward to sharpening, and get good results. You just have to put your mind to it and do some research, and of course it never hurts to throw a few hundred dollars at anything.

As far as turning pens, that is what I started with 10 years ago or so. It is addictive and rewarding. I do not do much wood. I personally don’t think either wood or acrylic is more forgiving. Each has it good points. What I might do if I were you to separate yourself from someone producing everyday wooden pens is look into simple segmenting. If you have a table saw, it is easy to do, and you would not believe all the stuff you can use to segment. It really separates your pens from the everyday maple slim line. You can charge way more and really not have a lot more time in it.
Just my .02

-- Mike

View jusfine's profile


2422 posts in 3165 days

#6 posted 03-12-2015 05:37 PM

Great comment Mike!

-- Randy "You are judged as much by the questions you ask as the answers you give..."

View Woodknack's profile


12465 posts in 2619 days

#7 posted 03-12-2015 06:33 PM

I have a variety and find the midi sizes most comfortable on my smaller lathe, the mini sizes aren’t bad.

-- Rick M,

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