Instructables
Picture of Setting up carbide tooling on a lathe
Whether you just bought your own lathe, or just passed the SBU for the metal lathes at tech shop, you're now going to need some tooling for the lathe. This instructable aims to guide you in choosing and setting up indexable carbide tooling, primarily at the techshop. If you don't know what the techshop is, you check it out here www.techshop.ws, they have lots of great tools including lathes for you to use. The lathe in this instructable can be found at the San Jose branch.

 
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Step 1: Different types of tooling

There are many different types of tooling you can use on the lathe. The simplest and most common is high speed steel (HSS) toolbits. These toolbits typically come as sqaure bars, and are then hand ground on the pedastal grinder. If you took the metal lathe SBU at Techshop, you probably used HSS tooling.

HSS Tooling can be very versatile and economical, especially if you don't plan on using the lathe very much, or you don't know what kind of parts you will be making. HSS square blanks are around 4$-7$ depending on size (From KBC. Tools), and pre-ground tools can be found for around 20$-30$ (From Mcmaster-Carr).

However, while HSS tooling can be very cheap initially, it can have drawbacks. Mainly, if you're not a professional, chances are grinding tools will take you significant time, and your tools will not always the same. HSS tooling also has a significantly shorter lifespan than other types of tooling, especially in hard materials.
brian500322 days ago

Nice instructable. thks.

CementTruck3 months ago

I have an older smithy 1220 and want to upgrade my tool holder. there is a dizzying array of manufacturers, brands and sizes out there. How do I find out what aftermarket tool holder size is right for my lathe?

At first I wanted to try and save money by making my own, but it looks a bit daunting for someone (me) who is just starting out in this hobby and doesn't have all the tooling needed to do the job.

steveastrouk11 months ago
Trouble with indexable carbide on amateur lathes is usually a lack of stiffness in the machine, leads to tool chatter, and tool chatter leads to edge failure very quickly.

Don't mess around with tool height adjustments like that, beg/borrow/steal a decent vernier or digital height gauge. Measure the centre of your machine relative to the cross slide, and set your tools off that.
workislove1 year ago
Thanks a lot, I really appreciate the discussion of the different types of tools. I opened up the Techshop cabinet for my first independent lathe session and was quite puzzled at the variety. I plan to get some of my own, and this was a good place to start.
fred271 year ago
A nice clear explanation. Thanks. I've not got a lathe (yet) but found this interesting.
This is a very thorough first post, thank you so much for the share. Your steps make lathing a much less daunting tool to use.