Introduction: Carbide Woodturning Tool

About: Making silly things from (mostly) wood!

I did a video showing how I made myself a carbide woodturning tool for my lathe and somebody suggested I should also try to do an instructable so here we go!

I’ve wanted a set of carbide cutting tools since I started turning but couldn’t really justify the cost as I already had regular gouges and skews.

So I thought “why not have a go at making my own carbide tools” there isn’t really much too them at the end of the day right?

Some of the tools and things I used to make this:

Woodwax 22

Chestut Sanding Sealer

Yorkshire Grit

Dremel 3000

Easy finishing tool (I would buy this if I could afford to!)

My bandsaw the lovely Clarke 305mm

A cheap bench grinder

Tap and die set

Metal pillar drill

Scrap metal from a printer

Beech Spindle blanks

Carbide inserts from eBay

Obviously, you can use any tools you like and it should always be stated that you do so at your own risk. You should be completely familiar with your tools and use all necessary safety precautions.

This instructable is also a step by step guide on how *I* made this tool so please use it as a guide only and if you like feel free to comment with any tips or improvements I could have made!

So let's begin...

Step 1: The Metalwork

I had some stainless steel bar from an old printer teardown and thought this would be long enough to make 2 tools with so I used my mitre saw to carefully cut it in two.

It also had some holes in which I thought I could use to help secure the steel rod into the handle rather than using lots of epoxy.

I then took a hacksaw to the end of one of the bars to create a flat where the carbide insert could mount

I then used a file to make it as flat as I could and a little shaping on the bench grinder to make sure the carbide insert is the actual thing that will cut the wood not the steel bar.

I made sure to keep the bar cool by dipping the rod into a cup of water everytime the metal started to change colour, or when I actually remembered to. This would make sure the steel would keep its temper and so it wouldn’t be too brittle to use.

Once done I drilled a small hole for the carbide screw and tapped it with the same size thread as the screw.

A little test and it looked like the bar still needs a little shaping.

I made sure the bar was rounded back to as close to the hole as I dare.

Finally I gave the rod a little sand just to remove any sharp bits as the only sharp bit should be the carbide insert.

Happy with my metalwork I then needed to make a wooden handle.

Step 2: Making the Ferule

I also needed a ferrule to stop the end splitting where the steel met the handle, something tubelar around an inch in diameter.

My daughter's high chair legs – perfect! She can eat off the floor right?

I used my mitre saw to cut a small section off and gave the edges a little sanding to ensure it would be easier to handle.

Step 3: Making the Handle

I found a beech spindle blank among my magic wood store which would be perfect.

I mounted the beech blank in my lathe with a drive centre and turned it down to round.

I then cut a small tennon at the end of the spindle to the length and diameter of the ferrule.

A few marks in the wood to give good grip with my parting tool…

And now the finishing.

I’ve learnt a bit more about finishing since my last attempts from talking to chestnut products, Yorkshire grit and some of my friends in the small workshop YouTube makers group. I’m still learning though so please do point out any tips or advice if you have any.

I start with some basic sanding up to 240 grit and then wipe on some shellac sanding sealer. This raises the grain so then I sand it down again with some 240 grit.

I then liberally apply some Yorkshire grit sanding paste and work it into all the wood including the grooves.

Feels pretty smooth but I’ll now add some of chestnuts Wax22 for sealing it and adding a little protection.


Step 4: Measuring and Drilling for the Ferule

I loose fitted the steel rod into the hole and marked where the hole in the rod was and then drilled a small hole through the tenon at that location.

I then made a pin for the hole from a nail cut to the right length with my Dremel.

Step 5: Assembling the Tool

I put some epoxy on the rod just to really keep it in place and slid it into the handle and then put the pin into position.

I then used some more epoxy on the Tennon and slid the ferrule into place.

I left the epoxy to cure and came back the next day.

Step 6: Testing the Tool and Conclusions

Ok I’m happy it’s a functional tool! Yey!

There's advantages and disadvantages I'm told to using flat or round bar for the shaft but I found it as easy to not get the angle right with round bar so if I made this tool again I'd make it from flat stock.

So to get a cutter like this will cost around £30 on its own compared to the £10 or this would be if you got all the bits and made one of these yourself. I already had the blanks kicking around and upcycled the ferrule so probably only spent a few quid to get the carbide insert.

Admittedly anything you buy is probably going to be made by an experienced tool maker so will be a better design and probably safer to use. Still there is something very satisfying about using tools you have made yourself.

If I had the spare cash I’d probably buy a set of the easy wood tools myself as I’ve heard great things about these.

For now, I’m going to keep using this and maybe make a version of it with a diamond shaped cutter for detailing and a square for roughing.

So If you liked this instructable and found it useful please consider watching the video and subscribing to my channel as this kind of support encourages me to go and do more projects like this.

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Thanks all! :D