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Beginner tool set, live center etc.

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Headrc

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Ok ...I am sure this has been covered here but my searching did not find a thread. The question is ...what are the recommendations here for some beginners tool sets and a couple of necessary accessories. Little Machine Shop? Harbor Freight? Grizzly etc. ?? This question is pertaining to getting a beginning tool set for turning, parting and boring ...and then a live center, dead center and morse taper chuck. I have purchased an Atlas 9 inch lathe that is in very good condition but with no tooling or centers. It has both a lamp post tool post as well as a DIY compound toolpost holder that seems well made. So now I need to get started with some kind of tooling etc. and don't want to overpay but also do not want to buy something that is just junk. I have look at all the options and read reviews and have mixed feelings on all that I see except for the really expensive products that I am hesitant to buy unless I could buy second hand at a good price. Are the cheaper offerings really that bad and not serviceable? Is the mid priced items that much better? Being a hobbyist at best right now, I have made purchases of Harbor Freight etc. before that for my purposes work because they do not get used often but of course I see their shortcomings if they were to be used a lot. But I am totally new to metal lathe work so this may not be the case here. Specifically, is the Little Machine Shop worth the premium you pay over something like Harbor Freight? Or is it the similar but gets a premium because LMS is focused on metal working? Any input would be appreciated.
 

David S

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Welcome.
Can you let us know exactly what came with your lathe? Did it include a chuck? If not and if you are tight on money I would start with a 4 jaw independent chuck.

My first lathe was an Atlas 618 that I got over 40 years ago and started with the 4 jaw and also got a jacobs screw on and those are all I have ever used, prior to getting some collets.

It would also help to know what type of work you will be starting to do.

David
 

Headrc

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Hi Dave ..thanks for the response. Yes the lathe has a 6 inch three jaw chuck that works as it should . And of course the 9 inch Atlas has longitudinal power feed. Candidly, I do not really know what kind of work I will be doing but for instance I have a couple of small hubs for some dc drill motors that I would like to see if I could make instead of buy. But I could see more of these types of things happening if I can become somewhat proficient on this effort ...including making some accessories for the lathe itself.
 

David S

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Well the next thing would be is to get a tail stock chuck. I don't think you will have to spend a lot of money for one that fits the tailstock taper. Again the size depends on the type of work you will mostly be doing. If you get one larger than 1/2" it may not close down on smaller diameter bits. Until you know what else you may be doing a dead center for the tail stock will be ok.

Perhaps a picture of your compound tool post holder would be helpful as well. I have purchased things from LMS and have been happy as well as cutters and collets from Chinese companies and so far have been happy.

David
 

Headrc

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Ok ...I will get a picture of the lathe and tool holder up here. Have you had any experience with the Harbor Freight stuff? Did you buy or use that LMS tool sharpening training set they sell? Compared to other offerings it seems a litte pricey ...but if it is truly sharpened correctly maybe it is worth it. Thanks Richard
 

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I just tooled up a slightly larger 12x36 lathe. After a few months of using it, here are my thoughts.

Used all the time:
-Swiss Type test indication (0.0005") and flexible mag base. This is a must have. You don't need to spend a fortune.
-1/2" keyless drill chuck and MT arbor to match tailstock. Don't buy bigger than 1/2" right now.
-Quick change tool post (CDCO tool makes a cheap but nice one)
-4 jaw chuck. Must have for any accurate work where you must pick up existing features or requires back work.
-Basic OD turning tools and a few boring bars (I use indexable carbide, but most will point you to HSS, you decide)
-Measuring tools, get some calipers, telescoping bore gages, micrometers as big as you expect to turn (0-3" to start maybe?), and the test indicator stated above. Your work is only as good as you can measure. You don't need super name brand stuff, but I would recommend buying new, or at least buying standards to check your used instruments.

Used only a little:
-Dead center
-Live center

Haven't used and probably might never need:
-Faceplate
-Headstock center
-turning dogs

I love Shars tool company (out of Illinois). They import all their stuff, but it seems to be better quality than most imports (plus they will replace anything which doesn't meet your quality standards). They're pretty inexpensive too.
 

Headrc

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Thanks, I will look at the Shars site. What about indexed tooling compared to regular ....any thoughts on that folks?
 

mikey

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The question is ...what are the recommendations here for some beginners tool sets and a couple of necessary accessories. This question is pertaining to getting a beginning tool set for turning, parting and boring ...and then a live center, dead center and morse taper chuck.
Richard, welcome to HM!

It sounds like you're starting from scratch other than a 3 jaw chuck. You are hopefully going to get a lot of input but I wanted to share some thoughts.
  • This hobby is like a big magnet - sorta sucks you in, you know? Many of us start out thinking we just want to try metal working and are not sure if its for us ... before you know it, years have passed and you have a lathe, mill, drill press, bandsaw and, well, you get the idea. I raise this because the probability of you staying in the hobby is pretty high so if you do buy tools, try to buy stuff that will work well and last for some time. That sorta leaves Harbor Freight out for most things. The quickest way to throw money away is to buy cheap tools, at least in my experience.
  • I would highly recommend you buy a quick change tool post. They are faster to use, more rigid than a lantern tool post and will simplify tool grinding.
  • Figure out what the tailstock taper is and buy a decent drill chuck. I personally prefer keyless chucks and Albrechts in particular. However, you don't need to go that deep. A decent keyless chuck is the Rohm Supra that can be had for about $100.00 on ebay new, or less for a used one. Buy an arbor with a MT to fit your tailstock and a JT to fit the chuck and you're good to go. If you prefer them, keyed chucks abound on ebay. Do your homework before buying one. I prefer Rohm or US-made Jacobs keyed chucks.
  • I would make a dead center for your lathe.
  • I would suggest a live center instead of a dead center for the tailstock. A good budget brand of live center is Skoda; decent performance for a fair price. It does not pay to buy a cheap live center, trust me.
  • You lathe is not a paragon of rigidity, power or speed. Hence, I suggest you go with HSS tooling instead of carbide. I know most new guys prefer inserted carbide but you will get the most performance from your lathe with HSS. The only caveat is that you have to learn how to grind those tools but we here on the forum can help you with that. I looked at the LMS learning tool set and I would not buy them myself; not that they're bad but there are easier ways to learn this stuff. If you can't wait and want to use the lathe now then consider HSS inserted tools from AR Warner. They won't outperform a good HSS tool but they will cut better for you than carbide.
  • Parting is a big question mark. I've seen many posts about problems parting on an Atlas lathe and not having first hand experience with this lathe, I cannot advise you. My experience is that a P-type parting tool will give you the best shot at it and I would start with a P1 or P2 blade and see how it goes.
  • Boring is another big question mark. There is far more to boring than just slapping any old bar in a holder and going at it. It is potentially one of the most expensive operations there is on a lathe, mostly because mistakes when choosing and using bars costs money. I'm going to suggest something that may sound stupid but I would buy one of those cheap Chinese sets with the 9 brazed carbide tipped bars for like $10.00. They are not quality tools by any means but will let you try your hand at it for not much money and they actually do cut fairly well on a lathe. Later, when you are more used to running a lathe, learn about choosing and using good bars so you can make an informed decision.
You are going to need a decent dial indicator, dial caliper and possibly a micrometer at some point. Lots to buy but before you do, ask.

Take your time, learn to use the lathe. Your 3 jaw will get most of the work done while you learn. Later, when you need accuracy, learn to use a 4 jaw chuck.

I highly recommend you start off with 6061-T6 aluminum and 12L14 steel as materials. They, and your lathe, will teach you a great deal about how metal likes to be cut.

Welcome to the forum, Richard. Lots of good guys here and help is a question away.
 

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What is the tail stock taper? I have an import 1/2" keyed chuck you can have if you need it.
 

macardoso

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Thanks, I will look at the Shars site. What about indexed tooling compared to regular ....any thoughts on that folks?
I personally find the the low cost indexable tools to be a good investment. I do know how to grind HSS tools to do the job, but it is very nice to be able to pop in an insert which is suitable for your material and just cut.

Here is an example. I use 1/2" tools on my lathe and use a CCMT (80* diamond) style insert for most of my OD turning work. I can buy a HSS bit and grind it to spec for a few dollars, but I also need a bench grinder, wheel, and most importantly time to prep a very cheap HSS tool. It will cut for a good long while and then I will resharpen it. The surface finish isn't amazing without some decent edge prep. When I want to cut aluminum, I might grind a second tool with a sharper rake to cut a bit better. Now instead, I buy a $20-30 tool one time and throw a $5 insert on it. The insert is already pressed or ground to the right angles and cuts perfectly out of the box. Since it is carbide, it will last a long time, probably until you crash it if you aren't cutting really hard. But more importantly, you just pop on an insert and you're good to go. You can switch inserts to match materials. For me I care less about the cost and more about maximizing the cutting time I have for the hour or two after work (I'm a long way from retiring).

Many will tell you you can never run the carbide hard enough (and they're right), but it still works beautifully. You don't need the $40 a piece inserts, you can find everything you need for under 5 dollars. A hobbyist might never hit the breakeven point on the carbide investment (purely money speaking), but when I consider my limited time, I find I much prefer inserts.

PS: if you like HSS for the slower cutting speed, but like the ease of use of insert tooling, there are a few companies which make HSS inserts to fit an indexable tool holder. Right around the cost of the cheaper carbide inserts ($5 for the CCMT 32.51 discussed above).
 

Headrc

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Hi guys ...I knew I would great help here. Attached are pictures of the lathe. The tailstock MT is #2 and the headstock is #3. That is a kind offer Fistram if it would work for me. BTW ...I already own a good bit of other equipment ...a drill press, metal chop saw protable bandsaw, mig welder etc. so I am not totally new to metal. All this is much appreciated. Richard Atlas Lathe A.jpg

Atlas Lathe DIY Tool post A.jpg Atlas Lathe DIY Tool post B.jpg Atlas Lathe DIY Tool post C.jpg Atlas Lathe A.jpg Atlas Lathe DIY Tool post A.jpg Atlas Lathe DIY Tool post B.jpg Atlas Lathe DIY Tool post C.jpg
 

GoceKU

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#12
Richard welcome to the forum.
I've been in your place about year and a half ago and can say this forum is by far the best place to ask serious and beginner questions without anyone mocking you or being facetious, very good and knowledgeable group of people here. As for starter tools, i'll recommend a drill chuck, MT2 is very common size for drill press so you can buy one anywhere, evan hardware stores have them, next will be live centre, and centre drills, then get yourself couple of pieces of HSS cutters for softer metals, for a beginner, already shaped ready to use are better so you can learn the angles and what they do on your own, and lastly get yourself couple of carbide insert tool holders and inserts i've started to use them on everything, my preferred are CNMG, and DNMG, shapes, because your lathe is on the smaller size you can buy holders with positive or neutral rake that require less power to cut.
 

Firstram

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#13
Headrc, it's got a 2MT arbor with no tang. You'll need to drill and tap the end for a bolt to eject it if your tail stock is set up for tangs. It's yours for the flat rate shipping, PM me your address.
 

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#14
Any used machinery dealers where you live?
 

Headrc

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Not sure on the used machinery dealers ...I would think so being that I am midway between Nashville and Knoxville.
 

NortonDommi

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#16
I have to travel to a bit to any second hand dealers but always worth it I just never seem to have enough in my wallet when I get there. Most second hand dealers often get machinery as job lots and sell the tooling separate so you can often pick up some real bargains compared to new prices and depending on the shop the owner/staff usually know quite a bit about tools, will do deals and if you are after something in particular will keep a lookout and notify you if you ask nicely.
+ 1 what Mikey said. El cheapo brazed tip tools can be made a lot better with a quick hone on a Diamond lap. If you're not using the compound fit a solid block. If there is any way you can fit a rear toolpost parting will be easier just keep in mind that when parting alignment and rigidity is everything.
 

mickri

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#17
I have had my lathe and mill/drill for almost 2 years. The people on this site are awesome. There are no stupid questions here. So anything that has you puzzled just ask and you will get good answers to your questions. Have you been to Tubalcan's website? He is a retired shop teacher and has 100's of videos that explain in detail just about everything you need to know. The people here will provide you with the fine points.
I have found that I use my 3 jaw chuck for just about everything. I would say that at least 95% of what I do is in the 3 jaw.
Measuring is the key to success. Practice and practice and practice some more until you consistently get the same measurement. Accurately measuring the inside of bores is the most difficult for me. To be blunt I suck at it.

Making accessories for your lathe is a good way to learn. You will need a boring bar holder. Here is a link for an easy to make boring bar holder. https://smithy.com/projects/smithy-projects/boring-bar-holder/page/2. Quick change tool post (QCTP) holders are wonderful but expensive to buy. I have a 4 way which I like. It is similar to what you showed in your pictures. They are relatively easy to make. Another good project. Search for homemade or diy 4 way tool post and you will find plans and video's on how to make one.

Download a copy of the Atlas/Craftsman Manual of Lathe Operation (MOLO for short) and the South Bend How to run a Lathe books. They are invaluable for the basics. Better yet buy hard copies and keep them at your lathe for quick reference.
You will mess stuff up. Don't let it bother you. This is a hobby for most of us. Have fun.
 

Headrc

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Yes definitely on Tubalcain ...what a wealth of info. I just ordered his Atlas course ...although I could gleen that info in other places I wanted to support him. He deserves it. I also have a copy of the Atlas manual which I have read front to back.

I really appreciate all the info here. I am still not feeling there is a general favored source for beginners cutting tools themselves here. I took a look at the Harbor Freight ones yesterday and wrote them off as junk that I would have to fix first. So I am still looking for a beginning tool set to buy. Regarding the indexed tools ....are the carbide tips usually interchangeable ...brand specific? I am thinking as it may be better to go with HSS first as GoceUK recommended and learn to sharpen but as a newbie I am not certain on that. What about buying used bits ....stay away or that is depending on condition? Looking at those ...there are all kinds of shapes and sizes that I have no idea what they are. Can someone point to a good source for all these shapes and sizes. The standard ones are in the Atlas manual ...but there seems to be tons of variations out there.

One question on that DIY 4 way tool post that came with the lathe, are they meant to accommodate all the various sizes of tool bits? The 1/4 inch and 5/16 I saw yesterday seemed small for it. And regarding that, with the lathe I have ....does size of tool bit matter? Meaning it seems the larger the bit the more rigid I would think it would be and therefore maybe I should just go for larger bits in the beginning. But would that be too much for my lathe?

On that DIY boring bar holder suggestion mickri ...I don't have a mill so it looks like doing that is not possible. So that 4 way I already have will not hold boring bars properly...I wonder if I could just make an insert with the properly size metal for a boring bar hold for it?

Lots of questions I know here ...and that takes time to answer so thank you in advance.
 
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ttabbal

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#19
Carbide inserts are not usually brand specific, but they are type specific. They come in various shapes and sizes and you have to match them when you buy replacements. It's not usually too hard, but try to ensure holders you get tell you the type to get. I would skip the triangle insert tools that are cheap and everywhere. I like the ones that take CCMT or similar inserts. Inserts are a whole world themselves, and getting the terms and names right can be a steep learning curve. The tools I've seen at HF are 1/4" for their mini-lathe. I would skip those.

To learn about HSS, start with the grinding thread here on HM. https://www.hobby-machinist.com/threads/models-for-grinding-hss-lathe-tools.62111/ .... There is a PDF on the thread with the most important posts all in one place that is helpful to print and keep near the grinder when starting out. I call it "The Book Of Mikey", great stuff. Make sure to blame @mikey if you end up building a 2x72 grinder. :)

There are models being passed around so you can hold them in your hand and see what they should look like. Then you can grind your own to match. There is info in there about how to maintain (hone) the edges to keep them nice and sharp as well. Even if you decide not to get into grinding your own, it's valuable information to be familiar with. Given the size of the lathe, I would go HSS.

Most 4-way tool posts can hold boring bars, you just need to get the ones with flats ground on them so there's something to hold. Some of them also have V shaped grooves to help hold round bars. A QCTP is great, but a 4-way will work. As for tool size, I bet it's set up for 3/8" tools. You want a little room so you can shim them to put the tip of the tool on the centerline of the work, so make sure you have some shim stock. The feeler gauge set from Harbor Freight works great for that, you get a lot of sizes to work with! :D
 

Meta Key

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#20
I also have a copy of the Atlas manual which I have read front to back.
Another excellent read is: "The Amateur's Lathe" by L.H. Sparey. It's an old book so beautifully written and well illustrated with photographs and line drawings.

IMHO, the Atlas manual you have read, the South Bend book "How to Run a Lathe" and the Sparey book ought to be considered as required reading. Plus, all three match up to the correct era for the lathe you have.

I am thinking as it may be better to go with HSS first as GoceUK recommended and learn to sharpen but as a newbie I am not certain on that.
I started off (20 years ago) with HSS cutters and still use them extensively. I do have and use some inserts and other carbide tools but I really like HSS. I enjoy the process of grinding HSS cutters and I love the finish I get with HSS.

I use carbide tooling exclusively for boring and have a couple of really nice ($$$) boring bars that use inserts. But for general turning, I'm a HSS kinda guy.

Can someone point to a good source for all these shapes and sizes. The standard ones are in the Atlas manual
The standard ones in the Atlas manual are probably all you need for now. The same standard tools are going to be defined in the South Bend and Sparey books as well. You don't need them all right now. Start with the basics, get some experience cutting and go from there.

There is an excellent thread in this forum: "Models for grinding HSS Lathe Tools" which is likely the best resource on the planet for HSS tool grinding.

One question on that DIY 4 way tool post that came with the lathe, are they meant to accommodate all the various sizes of tool bits? The 1/4 inch and 5/16 I saw yesterday seemed small for it. And regarding that, with the lathe I have ....does size of tool bit matter? Meaning it seems the larger the bit the more rigid I would think it would be and therefore maybe I should just go for larger bits in the beginning. But would that be too much for my lathe?
I'm guessing that your lathe would need an AXA size tool post setup. I think that size uses 3/8" and maybe up to 1/2" tooling -- is that right? (Sorry, I use BXA size.) Anyway, I tend to use tooling that is at or near the maximum the toolholder can accommodate. In my case (BXA) I use 1/2" and 5/8" tooling. Bigger == More Rigid. Rigid is good.

On that DIY boring bar holder suggestion
I'm of the opinion that boring bars are something that one should just bite the bullet and purchase.

Slowly acquire quality tools, learn to use them, be happy!

Welcome to machining!

Meta Key
 

macardoso

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#21
One question on that DIY 4 way tool post that came with the lathe, are they meant to accommodate all the various sizes of tool bits?
So, yes... BUT you will have to shim them to get the tool height correct, which is a PITA in my opinion. An entry level quick change tool post will run you ~$100 but might be my favorite investment for the lathe. The toolposts increase in size (OXA -> AXA -> BXA... etc.) You're probably somewhere in the OXA or AXA range (measure your compound slide to spindle centerline height thats what matters). Check out Shars and CDCO tool. They have holders for any kind of lathe tool you can think of (including boring bars), and only take seconds to swap tools.

Inserts come in shape and size (the stuff that matters anyways), you tool holder will fit any insert with the correct shape and size. For example a 1/2" SCLCR turning tool holder will hold ANY CCxx 3x.xx insert (ones for steel, aluminum, different radii, etc.). In addition, that same insert might also fit your boring bar, chamfer tool, facing tool, etc.

Grinding HSS isn't hard, and is certainly worthwhile to learn. I keep plenty of HSS tool bits on hand. Those books listed above are great.

I agree on the buy/make of the boring bar. Steel shank inserted ones aren't expensive ($20-30), and brazed carbide 9 piece sets will get you a great place to start for even cheaper, but you mileage may vary one the quality of those tools.
 

Headrc

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Again ...you guys are a great help. What should the measurements of compound slide to spindle centerline be for the different size tool posts be? Boy I can see this is like my music hobby ...time consuming learning curve ...should be fun though.
 

mickri

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#23
The distance from the compound to centerline is fixed and doesn't change based on different tool post holders. What can change is the distance from the bottom of the slot in the tool holder to centerline. This distance determines how large of a tool you can hold. You can always shim a smaller tool up to centerline.

Your tool holder looks like it was made for a larger lathe based on the size of the slots to hold the tooling. I would measure from the bottom of the slot to the centerline of your lathe. Close the jaws on your 3 jaw. This will be close enough to centerline. You are just looking for a rough measurement. Once this measurement is known you will know what size tooling will fit in your tool holder and not be above centerline.

I would start with HSS tooling. I found that it is not hard to grind HSS to the proper shape. Before I got a bench grinder I put the HSS in a vise and used my high speed 4" grinder to grind the HSS to shape. Not very elegant but it got the job done.
I practiced on pvc tubing. It's cheap. You can turn it, thread it and bore it. You can part it off. You can put an end cap on each end and practice turning between centers. I did this off and on whenever I had some free time for several months before I did anything with metal. I then picked up some cheap round stock from Lowes and practiced with that.
When I first started I had all these ideas about stuff to make. I learned very quickly that I didn't have the skill and knowledge to do much. Start small and work on more difficult projects as you gain experience.

Back to a boring bar holder. Get a piece of square or rectangular stock that fits in your tool post. Then drill a hole in it just large enough that your boring bar will slip into the hole. Hold the drill in the 3 jaw. This will have the boring bar centered. Then use a hacksaw to cut a slot so that when you tighten the screws on the tool post it will squeeze the holder to hold the boring bar in place.

It is very easy to spend tons on money on this hobby. There is a never ending list of things that you can buy. And even the inexpensive stuff is not cheap to buy. Have fun.
 

Janderso

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Buy quality once. That is my advice.
I wish I had some of the money back that I spent on the cheap crap.
Have fun!
 

killswitch505

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Headrc I can’t think of anything more to add other than welcome to the soon to be broke club!!!!!!!
 

Headrc

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#27
Yeah ....except maybe a headache from all the new things I have to think about! Studying away here ....
 

Headrc

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#28
So...continuing my education here. I see large lots of tooling sold on Ebay. What is the feeling here about buying used tooling provided you have the capability and willingness to learn to resharpen?
 

mikey

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So...continuing my education here. I see large lots of tooling sold on Ebay. What is the feeling here about buying used tooling provided you have the capability and willingness to learn to resharpen?
I'll jump in here and offer an opinion. If you assume the guy who ground the tools had a really good grasp of tip geometry and the tools were ground for a lathe with similar amounts of speed, power and rigidity to yours then these lots can be a good buy. Otherwise, I would not waste the money.

I've gotten a bunch of these tools over the years and many have very unique shapes and geometries. Some were ground by someone who knew how to use a grinder but most looked to be done free hand with little regard to how the tool actually works. Most simply had a shape that looked like it would work and little attention was paid to the tool angles beyond making sure they didn't rub. I've actually tried to use many of these tools and the vast majority will cut but not very well. Bear in mind that this "not very well" is in comparison to my own tools that cut "sort of okay". None of these tools is in use in my shop and only the rare one will be salvageable by grinding over the existing angles while still leaving enough length to assure rigidity in the tool holder.

The interesting thing is that the seller usually lists the make of the tool bit - Super Mo-Max! Rex AAA! Cobalt this or HSS that, and then charges a price that sounds fair for such high quality tool bits. The reality is that many of them will not cut well on your lathe and you have to know how to grind a good tool to even have a chance to salvage them. Otherwise you end up with a short tool that, while being made of good steel, is not a good bargain. The seller wins, you lose.

I have learned that a good tool is not good because it is made from HSS or cobalt; it is good because of its shape and tip geometry. Keep in mind that your lathe was intended to use HSS tooling. It is rigid enough, fast enough and powerful enough if the tool is ground to take advantage of what you have. Accordingly, tool grinding is a skill worthy of the time and effort it takes to learn it.

Bottom line: I'm of the opinion that you would be wiser to buy some mild steel keystock and some cheap Chinese tool bits and learn to grind a tool that will meet the needs of you and your lathe.
 

Headrc

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#30
Exactly the kind of recommendation that I needed ...thank you mikey. That helps a lot.
 
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