Instructables

Step 3: Different types of tools (Cont.)

Picture of Different types of tools (Cont.)
Indexable carbide tooling is the third type of tooling for lathes. Indexable tooling uses steel tools, with a screw or clamp securing a carbide insert to the end of the tool. Indexable carbide tools and inserts are widely available, as they are almost unanimously used in CNC Turning. Indexable tools and inserts come in many different varieties, one can be found for almost any job. Unlike HSS or brazed carbide, carbide inserts require no sharpening prior to use. Most inserts have at least 2 separate cutting edges, and can be rotated when one edge dulls. Indexable carbide tooling as does not typically re-adjustment of the tool height when swapping inserts.

The primary drawback of indexable carbide tools is the initial cost. Most common tools start around 30$ for import tools, and can run up to 200$ for high performance on brand tools. The inserts themselves are typically around 5$-10$ depending on geometry and grade. Additionally, if you need a special tool, you must buy an additional tool, rather than grind it yourself. However, if you don't like grinding your own tools, and just want to make a lot of parts, indexable carbide is my favorite way to go. The inserts cut very well in a wide range of materials, and require little to no time after setting the height once.