CNC tooling

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Blog entry by tyskkvinna posted 06-24-2012 12:31 AM 2717 reads 0 times favorited 15 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I had a few people ask to see the tooling that I use for turning wood on a CNC (metal) lathe. So here you go.

So this is what something looks like when it is in the lathe. I have this piece mounted to a flange, but it could also be in a turning centre or on a mandrel.

This is my standard tool profile. In the first picture I am using the same idea but the full diametre. Good for hogging. This one is better for more precision things.

These are my little carbide tips. Sharp on both sides, I use them a lot for pens and other super delicate things that need minimal surface contact with the tool.

This is a super cool tool that I love using and use pretty often. It’s also carbide.

Here it is at work. It makes a flat left side (which is neat for bowls, incidentally) and has fairly high contact OR fairly love contact depending on how you mount it.

And this is the parting tool. It’s adjustable so it doesn’t matter how big the item is that I’m parting.

So—I can use these tools for wood, plastic, aluminum, brass… the parting tool can take anything.

I grind all my tooling as necessary and due to using a lot of carbide that means not often.

If anybody has more questions on the tooling that I use or the process I’d be happy to explain what I can.

-- Lis - Michigan - -

15 comments so far

View DrewM's profile


176 posts in 3027 days

#1 posted 06-24-2012 02:00 AM

that’s really cool, I’ve always wondered what it would be like to use a cnc lathe as a woodworking machine.

-- Drew, Delaware

View rance's profile


4258 posts in 3189 days

#2 posted 06-24-2012 03:24 AM

Really neat stuff with the CNC lathe. The next time you do some turning by hand, as you are presenting the tool to the wood, consider the shape of the tip of the tool and the angle that you have it in relation to the wood. It is interesting how wood is so much different in turning than the other materials that are normally cut on a metal-cutting lathe.

In saying all of this, I want to eventually google to see if I could find a cnc wood lathe that mimics cutting wood like we would do it manually. As it is, we seem to just approach it with the same tools and methods for cutting metal, which, for wood, is almost exclusively a scraping cut. The scraper is but one of many tool geometries used in woodturning.

Lis, thanks for sharing your experiences with your woodturning, both manual and cnc. I hope to get my cnc mill back from having ball screws installed in a couple of weeks. I can’t wait to get started.

-- Backer boards, stop blocks, build oversized, and never buy a hand plane--

View tyskkvinna's profile


1310 posts in 3014 days

#3 posted 06-24-2012 12:38 PM

you can’t.

I’m not approaching it with the same tools and methods as I can for metal—it’s just that the tools and methods I can use for wood also happen to work on other materials. :) If we did a post about tool profiles for metals, I would give you a very different set of tools. The advantage of being able to also cut other materials, though, is that I can do things like fill the wood with epoxy AND metal and it doesn’t care. The tool is fine cutting through wood, plastic and metal in the same piece.

A CNc lathe approaches things by putting the tool in a tool post. This sits absolutely perpendicular to the centre line (or parallel if we’re talking a bowl-style cut) and the tool only works if you cut on the centre line. If you go above or below it by a significant amount (in my experience, roughly 0.050”) it will start to chatter, rip your grain and sometimes break things (not the lathe, but your workpiece). My lathe has so much power that it will easily throw the wood up and out by cutting below the centre line.

A Gouge works by having a fairly steep angle—either vertically or horizontally – to get in there and pull the material out. And as you go, you rotate the direction of the tool. I have used gouge type profiles but they dull extremely quickly and the chips end up getting stuck too close to the workpiece.

For practise, try taking your regular wood lathe and use all of your tools flat against the tool rest, which is dead centre. See how much differently they cut. :)

-- Lis - Michigan - -

View helluvawreck's profile


31417 posts in 2895 days

#4 posted 06-24-2012 01:08 PM

Lis, I was wondering at what range RPM you run your CNC lathe when you are turning wood? Also what is the make and model of your CNC lathe? This is really interesting. Do you have a CNC mill and if you do do you also use it with wood? Thanks

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View tyskkvinna's profile


1310 posts in 3014 days

#5 posted 06-24-2012 01:45 PM

I use a Haas TL-1 lathe, which goes up to 2000rpm. When turning wood I generally run it at 1200 RPM for wood that’s 4-6” D and 2000RPM for anything smaller. I generally keep the surface feet per minute around 500.

I also use a Haas TM-1 Mill and SR-100 Gantry router. I heavily use both of them. It’s how I do the carvings.

I have to admit I teetered into fairly unexplored territory. While the gantry router is heavily used for wood, inherently, it is mostly used for 2d cutting (think IKEA furniture). The tooling for 3d work is not readily available, especially if you want to do anything of notable depth, accuracy or both.

Consequently, I use ISCAR tooling which is absolutely top-notch and not even a little bit meant for wood. You can’t beat it though.

-- Lis - Michigan - -

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

20600 posts in 3134 days

#6 posted 06-24-2012 03:33 PM

Lis, do you sharpen your carbide cutters on a green wheel or a diamond wheel?

I was surprised on how good a green wheel works. I inherited some router bits when my friend died and the 1” straight bit had about 1/8” chewed up on the end and I needed that cutter. I took it to green wheel and ground over an eight off and it works great.


-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View tyskkvinna's profile


1310 posts in 3014 days

#7 posted 06-24-2012 04:04 PM

I have a small stash of 60 grit wheels that I use… because it’s just what I have.

-- Lis - Michigan - -

View rance's profile


4258 posts in 3189 days

#8 posted 06-24-2012 04:20 PM

Good points Lis, thanks for sharing your experiences.

-- Backer boards, stop blocks, build oversized, and never buy a hand plane--

View SamuelP's profile


793 posts in 2674 days

#9 posted 06-24-2012 09:43 PM

I like your nails.

-- -Sam - FL- "A man who carries a cat by the tail learns somthing he can in no other way" -Mark Twain

View BertFlores58's profile


1698 posts in 2950 days

#10 posted 06-25-2012 02:11 AM

Nothing more to add but rather thanks to all the information you mentioned above. You have the needed experience in dealing with lathework.

There is one caution for wood that I had experienced using a metal lathe. Please do check the clamping tightness of the wood on the chuck as well as the pressure of the tailstock. The wood normally compresses on the force while metal does not. I suggest for bowl turning… you can use the faceplate and attach a sacrificial wood in it then glue or screw the workpiece to this sacrificial wood. It will add more strength.

Take care.

-- Bert

View tyskkvinna's profile


1310 posts in 3014 days

#11 posted 06-25-2012 02:29 AM

Bert – yeah. I never throw wood directly in the chuck, unless it’s for some small, on the edge, and very light. I usually turn with a faceplate or on a pair of centres. Even if I’m on centres, sometimes I have to adjust as I go and re-tighten everything.

-- Lis - Michigan - -

View whitewulf's profile


454 posts in 2965 days

#12 posted 06-25-2012 06:06 AM


Try high rake inserts I believe ISCAR makes some.

I use triangle inserts on my Metal lathe & on the wood lathe as well, with .020 radi tip

-- "ButI'mMuchBetterNow"

View tyskkvinna's profile


1310 posts in 3014 days

#13 posted 06-25-2012 01:19 PM

I try to keep the ISCAR tooling well-oiled so I generally stay away from them when I am using wood. :)

-- Lis - Michigan - -

View PurpLev's profile


8536 posts in 3677 days

#14 posted 06-25-2012 01:27 PM


the major difference between tooling in a tool post (metal cutting toolings or solids) VS. freehand wood turning is that gouges slice the fibers, whereas metal-like-tooling acts like a scraper and scrapes the fibers.

the rigidity of a metal lathe and a tool post allows the scraper to take bigger bites then hand held scraper, but does the same type of cut – and can leave a nice smooth finish.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View tyskkvinna's profile


1310 posts in 3014 days

#15 posted 06-25-2012 02:45 PM

The big thing I like with my method and tooling is when I am done turning, sanding usually starts at 400 or 600 grit. :)

-- Lis - Michigan - -

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