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3/8 x 3/8 tool blank source?

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ACHiPo

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#1
I got a bunch of 1/4" HSS blanks when I bought my Logan 816 lathe. These fit the tool posts that came with the lathe. The Aloris AXA QCTP can handle 3/8" tools and still be adjusted to center, so while the smaller blanks will work, I'd prefer 3/8" for obvious reasons. I'd prefer US-made HSS blanks, but they seem outrageously expensive (~$24@). What experience do you guys have with Chinese tool steel? The Chinese blanks go for $64 for 50, which seems too good to be true?
 

Dan_S

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#2
Most HSS is perfectly fine, regardless of who made it.

However, $1.28 per bit is way to cheap in my option, It should be more like $2.50 to $5 for a 3/8" square M2 bit.
 

benmychree

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#3
Look on e bay, you should find plenty; do not buy Chinese; any USA brand or type should work for you. Also, I have a bunch of new unused 3/8 bits that I would be willing to sell if you are interested. They are either MoMax Cobalt or Rex 95. I'd let them go for $4 each.
 

mikey

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#5
Look on e bay, you should find plenty; do not buy Chinese; any USA brand or type should work for you. Also, I have a bunch of new unused 3/8 bits that I would be willing to sell if you are interested. They are either MoMax Cobalt or Rex 95. I'd let them go for $4 each.
This is a really good price for these bits, especially since one bit will last 10-15 years if cared for. I would consider it, Evan.
 

benmychree

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#6
The Chinese are capable of making fine tools, but for the most part, that is not what they send here, the sort of things, sold by the likes of HF; a friend of mine calls them "stage prop tools", there are exceptions to this but I think their cutting tools are second or third rate; personally, I would not buy them.
 

mikey

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#7
Chinese tool bits are okay. There is no way to know what their content is and no way to contact the foundry to find out. You take your chances. I use these bits to experiment with and grind my keepers from bits I trust.

3/8" bits are a commonly used size and they come up on ebay often, though sellers think they are made of gold instead of HSS. You are looking for bits from a source you trust. Most US makers are good - Cleveland, Chicago-Latrobe, Do-All, Morse, anything from Crucible (Rex), Teledyne/Vasco, Armstrong. ETM is a very good M2 steel, as is the Brazilian bits from TTC.

Cobalt is more expensive. 5% cobalt is fine for almost anything you're likely to turn. 8% holds and edge longer but it is the Molybdenum or Tungsten content you need for high heat conditions so buy from a company who publishes this data.

Bottom Line: you best economic bet is ebay.
 
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#8
I'm not a fan of Bolton Tools, but they had some M42 HSS blanks last time I looked at a pretty good price.
 

chips&more

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#9
I use mostly Super Mo-MAX tool bits. They are a little harder to grind into shape. If you need a profile bit then I use regular HSS because it’s easier to grind and I don’t use profile bits regularly. A single tool bit should last you a very long time. You mentioned a lot of 50. IMHO that is way more than you need. Look on fleabay, put in a saved search for super Mo-Max, you will find them and it will be your turn to buy sooner or later…Dave
 

Dan_S

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The Chinese are capable of making fine tools, but for the most part, that is not what they send here, the sort of things, sold by the likes of HF; a friend of mine calls them "stage prop tools", there are exceptions to this but I think their cutting tools are second or third rate; personally, I would not buy them.
If your buying them from harbor freight, that would be a big part of it. Anything under about $100 bucks from harbor freight is about the cheapest thing they can find. I was meaning more along the lines of the major online suppliers house brands, it's almost all made offshore but is up to spec and works perfectly fine.

Where you need to be more select, is the rarer HSS like M42, , T15, and the various powdered metallurgy flavors like M48. They are produced in much smaller volumes, and the knowledge about how to manufacture them properly and consistently is a lot less wide spread.

My dads been in the steel industry for just shy of 40 years, and has made everything from rebar, to exotic stuff for the auto industry. As he said not to long ago, HSS is almost an 80 year old technology, just about anyone can make it properly. Really it all comes down to price, if it's too good to be true, then its probably not very good.
 

Ulma Doctor

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#11
Hi Evan,
i have some HSS blanks you can have- gratis
how many do you want?
 

Downunder Bob

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#13
Nothing wrong with stuff made in china!
Each to their own. I have had too may failures, I will never again buy anything chinese made, if the results are important. I have had chinese made stainless steel knives with slag inclusions in the blade. Chinese made spanners that break in the first half dozen uses. An engineers square that was almost a full degree out.
I have a chinese made bench drill press, that is gutless, out of square, and the chuck does not run true. My cordless drill has more power and is more useful. It is beyond redemption and nothing on it is even worth salvaging.
 

ericc

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#14
Some of the Chinese stuff is getting pretty good. Remember when those cheap HF drill bits would bend before breaking? That doesn't seem to happen any more. I recall seeing someone posting XRF results for Harbor Freight HSS in lathe tools. It was not HSS, it was some kind of tungsten hot work steel with lower tungsten content to save money. Performance suffered as expected. If you can spark test, you should be able to figure things out. Get a couple of known tools, even stubs are fine. You will be able to tell the difference between simple high carbon steel, M2 and M42 immediately. These will all work, with appropriate cutting speeds for each. Just about any cheap Home Depot drill bit is at least M2 and will cut fine. A broken piece will fit in a center drilled 3/8" square holder. If you can score a big box of junk tool bits at a garage sale that have some good names for less than $1 per bit, jump on it. They are good for spark testing, placing in some special holder, or examining for grind angles. If they are long enough and ground well, you can just go ahead and use them. I've gotten all kinds. I have two coffee cans full, and three of them were great with just a tiny touch up required.
 

NortonDommi

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#15
Nothing wrong with stuff made in china!
Second that,Service unmatched,prompt delivery and I personally have never had a problem with Chinese goods. Most of the stuff I have imported is far superior to the bulk of what is marketed locally.
One product that I can recommend is: http://corbaltusa.net/ The only stuff that it does not like is a Blue coloured epoxy something used on electric motor armatures. Other than that it can take some serious abuse. Hones to a super fine edge as well.
 

Headrc

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#16
And here I am looking for tool stock also as a newbie ...so I am gathering just buy off of Ebay unless some new source has become recommended? That CorbaltUsa link does not work .... what is special about it?
 

Headrc

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#18
Yes I saw that ...geez sounds like I would be willing some hss to someone though. One thing ...with your previous recommendation of th AR Warner cutoff blade ...is the AR Warner T-15 HSS worth the premium of $14 for 3/8 3 inch blank?
 

mikey

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#19
I already have a lifetime supply of blanks and I bought one of those 50 bit lots. Gave half away to someone I really like. Over the last 30+ years, I've gone through more than 300 bits but I admit I'm a bit of an exception.

As for the T15 bit from ARW, no, I wouldn't pay for that unless you have a lathe that can turn hard metals that would produce enough heat to need T15. T15 has a high Tungsten content that holds an edge under red hot conditions, which your lathe probably will not do on its best day. For most of us, even a 5% cobalt tool is more than enough to handle what our hobby class lathes can do. At this point and with your lathe, I would stick with M2 HSS.
 
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