Lee Valley has started carrying a set of 3 carbide-tipped woodturning tools. The set also comes with a full set of replacement carbide inserts.
As these tools are only 11″ long, they are intended for use on smaller turnings. They have beech handles and shafts that have been flattened on the bottom side for sitting squarely on the lathe tool rest.
The big advantage of using an insert tool is that when the edge gets dull, you can just rotate the insert and keep turning with a fresh edge. When all the edges are dulled, rather than spending time sharpening, you can just replace the insert.
The set comes with three different tools:
- 1/2″ diameter finisher (round), for shaping and smoothing
- 7/16″ by 1-1/8″ detailer, with double-ended diamond-shaped tip
- 7/16″ square tipped roughing tool with slightly radiused sides
The 3 tip styles give you a wide range of capabilities.
Until January 30th, 2017, this 3 piece set of carbide turning tools, plus the set of replacement carbide inserts, will be $95 plus ~$10 shipping (if you order just this set). After the 30th, the price will increase to $119 plus shipping ($12 by itself).
Price: $95, then $119
Buy Now (via Lee Valley)
Replacement inserts and maybe even individual tools from the set might be available from Lee Valley in the future, but is not guaranteed. It might be best to consider this a “special offer” type product that might not be available a year from now. (But even if that happens, the carbide inserts look to be standard sized and easily sourced.)
Initially I skipped over this deal because I have been really disappointed by the markup on carbide turning tools. They are basically carbide inserts on a stick, so why are other places like Rockler charging upwards of $190 for a set of three similar tools when the single inserts alone only cost between $10 and $20?
Then Stuart asked me to consider posting about these new woodturning tools and the introductory pricing, I took another look and am glad I did. I initially missed that they are including a set of replacement tips. So assuming you could find the inserts for $10 each, that’s $60 in carbide inserts and $35 for three handles. That’s not a bad deal at all!
After the introductory pricing, even $119 seems justifiable.
Of course you can find better deals for bulk carbide inserts, but usually only the square ones.
I’ve had a set of carbide turning tools for a few years, but I didn’t pay the exorbitant prices that other companies wanted. I traded my lathe bed extension to a friend for two insert bit holding shafts he machined. All I had to do was buy the carbide inserts and make my own handles. All in all I thought it was a great trade.
Carbide tipped tools have changed the way I turn. I still do use some of my high speed steel tools, primarily gouges for removing the bulk of material, but going from a rough cut blank to a smooth finished turning is so much faster with a sharp-edged carbide tool.
Plus you don’t have to waste time sharpening lathe tools, or learning how to sharpen complex angles or round edges. You can just concentrate on turning.