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Thread: first round of tools for new lathe

  1. #1

    first round of tools for new lathe

    I hope this type of post is OK here, I just worked through a few days of reviews and advice from another thread here and ordered a Rikon 70-220 Midi lathe and will be teaching myself to turn with the use of video tutorials. I think the Rikon (based on reviews) doesn't really come with much.

    I want to turn small items like pens, rings, small plates, platters, bowls, small boxes, cups, goblets etc etc. I am developing small products that I will be selling along side pottery when we do art shows (when they finally start up again). I am following a thread posted earlier and going through and searching previous post as well. Posted this with my specific lathe and plans hoping for more custom response but if you posted on the other one I will see it there too.

    I would appreciate input on the first few hundred dollar round of tools I should get and the best brands.
    Last edited by Stephen White; 02-11-2021 at 5:58 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
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    There's not anything specific about that lathe that would affect what I normally think of when I hear lathe tools. (Gouges, skews, etc.) For small things you don't need short tools, though you'll probably want narrower tools. E.g. 1/4" spindle gouge, instead of a 3/8" or 1/2", for delicate coves & beads. (Eventually most of us want them all. ) Also, as is suggested in all these threads, the cheap tools can be hit or miss and cause beginners unlimited frustration. A few from good solid reliable brands is the way to start.

    I suppose chucks need to be sized to a lathe. Of course you need to match the spindle threads, but most chucks use adapters to match the lathe, but also there is the scale. E.g. spinning a TeknaTool Titan chuck on that lathe wouldn't work well due to the size/mass mismatch. It should be powerful enough to handle a SuperNova2 sized chuck, but the Nova G3 size would probably be a better match. (Though I think it's slightly less nice.) It wouldn't add any strain to the motor and it'd eat less of your bed capacity.

    As far as other tools, e.g. live centers, I'm pretty sure that lathe has MT2 tapers at both ends which is pretty standard these days, so general advice will apply. (But double check.)

    I can't really think of anything else you might want to start. Now, once started... there are a gazillon options that may or may not help depending on exactly what you're trying to do.
    Last edited by David Bassett; 02-11-2021 at 6:44 PM. Reason: Spelling (I preview honest!)

  3. #3
    The Robert Sorby set contains everything needed for beginner lathe users. https://www.rockler.com/sorby-6-piec...ndation-course.
    It also provides a DVD for assistance. This is the set I have been using for over 12 years and if you keep them sharp you can do just about anything with them.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Mesa, Arizona
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    Stephen -- For what you're planning on making, here is what I would recommend:

    Apprentice Pen Turning Essentials Kit No. 2 MT (https://www.woodturnerscatalog.com/p...Essentials-Kit)

    Artisan Superflute Bowl Gouge 3/8" (https://www.woodturnerscatalog.com/p...ute-Bowl-Gouge)

    Artisan Round Point Negative Rake Scraper 3/4" (https://www.woodturnerscatalog.com/p...e-Rake-Scraper)

    Artisan Skew Chisel 1/2" (https://www.woodturnerscatalog.com/p...an-Skew-Chisel)

    Artisan Spindle Gouge 3/8" (https://www.woodturnerscatalog.com/p...-Spindle-Gouge)

    Artisan Spindle Roughing Gouge (https://www.woodturnerscatalog.com/p...Roughing-Gouge)

    Artisan Diamond Parting Tool (https://www.woodturnerscatalog.com/p...d-Parting-Tool)

    Record Power SC4 Chuck (https://www.woodturnerscatalog.com/p...ower-SC4-Chuck)

    I found all these tools at Craft Supplies USA, which is one of the top-tier woodturning suppliers. There are others in the same category, such as Packard Woodworks. I went with CSUSA simply because they are my go to vendor. I've also had good experience with Packard. You can construct a similar list by going to Packard.

    I chose tools from CSUSA's 'house brand' of turning tools. The tools are made by Henry Taylor in England. Packard also has a house brand made for them in England. You can save a little money by going with the house brand rather than buying the 'name brand'. Other than the cost savings, the house brand tools are not as highly polished as the name brand tools. The difference is only cosmetic. They are otherwise identical to the name brand tools and work just as well.

    Why these tools instead of the Sorby starter set? Sorby is a quality brand. I own several Sorby tools and like them. However, I prefer Henry Taylor tools (including CSUSA's house brand) for this type of turning tool. They just fit my hand better. There are better tools than those made in England -- Thompson, D-Way, and Carter & Son, are examples of these premium brands. (The England tool brands also make tools from the same premium steels found in Thompson, D-Way, and Carter & Son.) At some point, you may choose to upgrade to a premium tool. However, the tools I've listed will continue in your regular rotation for a very long time. They are very good and will serve you well.

    I've recommended the Record Power SC4 chuck. It is a virtual clone of the Nova SuperNova2 chuck, which is very popular. The jaw sets are interchangeable between the Nova and Record Power chucks, which is nice because some jaw types might not be available from one brand or the other. Why the Record Power and not the Nova? I believe the Record Power to be made with slightly better materials and to have a slightly better fit and finish. It's a close call.

    If you buy three or more tools from CSUSA, you'll receive a 10% discount. If you sign up for their rewards program, you'll also earn points toward store credit that can be used for future purchases. If you do go with CSUSA, tell them I sent you (and they'll say, "Who?"). I have no relationship with CSUSA other than that of a customer.

    Note: None of these tools are what I would consider best in class. Nor are they necessarily what I would buy for myself. I no longer use a pen mandrel for turning pens, for example. So, I wouldn't buy a pen mandrel. However, for someone just starting out, I think a pen mandrel is the way to go. Also, I have, like, and use regularly, several of the tools on this list. I have two Record Power SC4 chucks. They are very good and I have no complaints. I also have Vicmarc chucks and prefer them. But, Vicmarc's are more money. I have several of CSUSA's house brand tools. I like and use them regularly. However, when buying new turning tools, I look first to Thompson and D-Way. I'll probably buy some more CSUSA's house brand tools, but they are lower down in terms of preference.

    But, I'm not just starting out and trying on this woodturning thing for size. If I were, I'd buy exactly what I recommended above.

    HTH
    David Walser
    Mesa, Arizona

  5. #5
    Checking these out now, thanks!

  6. #6
    Thanks, I am going to check out the Nova G3 thanks!

  7. #7
    Rockler is out but looking around. Might keep these in mind when I am ready for a nice $300 set. In another thread it was suggested that I might trash a few tools b4 I really get the hang of sharpening do you think it might be best to get a nice set like this 6 months in?

  8. #8
    Join Date
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stephen White View Post
    I hope this type of post is OK here, I just worked through a few days of reviews and advice from another thread here and ordered a Rikon 70-220 Midi lathe and will be teaching myself to turn with the use of video tutorials. I think the Rikon (based on reviews) doesn't really come with much.

    I want to turn small items like pens, rings, small plates, platters, bowls, small boxes, cups, goblets etc etc. I am developing small products that I will be selling along side pottery when we do art shows (when they finally start up again). I am following a thread posted earlier and going through and searching previous post as well. Posted this with my specific lathe and plans hoping for more custom response but if you posted on the other one I will see it there too.

    I would appreciate input on the first few hundred dollar round of tools I should get and the best brands.
    Lots of possibilities and quality tools out there. How many $hundreds do you want to spend?
    Here are my own preferences for relatively small things. Note that I am REAL picky about my tools! I have many more tools but I do 90% of my smallish turnings with these.

    1/2" and perhaps 1" skew from Thompson Tools
    3/8" spindle gouge from Thompson
    1/8" parting tools from Thompson
    5/8" StLeger spindle roughing gouge from Thompson if he still sells it (he hates to make them!)
    1" spindle roughing gouge from Sorby or whatever; (I prefer the 1" from Thompson but he no longer makes it)
    3/8 bowl gouge from Thompson
    3/8" Hercules tool from Mike Hunter (get extra carbide bit)

    For hollowing small things the set of three Hunter Tools are my go-tos:
    They are NOT cheap but will last a lifetime, especially with the replaceable cutters.
    http://dev3.huntertoolsystems.com/taper-overview-new/
    If you decide to buy from Mike my favorite way is to contact him by phone:
    Phone 612-718-7926|huntertoolsystems@gmail.com
    (I gave Mike your name in case you decide to call.)

    I buy all Hunter and Thompson tools without handles. I make handles with inserts and swap tools as needed.

    (Disclosure: Both Doug Thompson and Mike Hunter are a long-time trusted friends but I get no financial considerations from recommendations!)

    Another company with high quality tools is Carter and Son. However, due to things I won't discuss here I cannot recommend buying from them.

    BTW, here are the Tompson 5/8" and 1" spindle roughing gouges. Then are made from solid round bar stock and extremely tough, unlike roughing gouges with a tang.

    Handle_adapters_roughing2_IMG_6006.jpg

    Handle_roughing_IMG_5964.jpg

    JKJ

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Stephen White View Post
    Thanks, I am going to check out the Nova G3 thanks!
    I found the Nova G3 Pro-Tek "Bundle" for close to the same price as the standard set - and keep in mind there is a newer version out labeled 'Nova G3 Pro-Tek" which has a few new features, including righty-tighty when using the chuck key instead of the inverse way on the older model. The bundle comes with a few extra sets of jaws, which are expensive to buy individually, and a hard case, etc. I think I paid 189.00. Rockler, etc sell the standard, non-bundle set for 149.00. I went through ebay to find it myself.

    Knowing I need to know how to sharpen and not knowing what I would want and need at first (meaning about two weeks ago) after getting my new midi lathe, I went for an inexpensive PSI/Benjamin's Best set (74.00/amazon) with plans to upgrade specific tools later.

    Still waiting on grinder and rest of the sharpening gear from woodturners wonders.

    Hope some of this helps. This is an excellent forum for questions like this, I've found.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by John K Jordan View Post
    Lots of possibilities and quality tools out there. How many $hundreds do you want to spend?
    Here are my own preferences for relatively small things. Note that I am REAL picky about my tools! I have many more tools but I do 90% of my smallish turnings with these.

    1/2" and perhaps 1" skew from Thompson Tools
    3/8" spindle gouge from Thompson
    1/8" parting tools from Thompson
    5/8" StLeger spindle roughing gouge from Thompson if he still sells it (he hates to make them!)
    1" spindle roughing gouge from Sorby or whatever; (I prefer the 1" from Thompson but he no longer makes it)
    3/8 bowl gouge from Thompson
    3/8" Hercules tool from Mike Hunter (get extra carbide bit)

    For hollowing small things the set of three Hunter Tools are my go-tos:
    They are NOT cheap but will last a lifetime, especially with the replaceable cutters.
    http://dev3.huntertoolsystems.com/taper-overview-new/
    If you decide to buy from Mike my favorite way is to contact him by phone:
    Phone 612-718-7926|huntertoolsystems@gmail.com
    (I gave Mike your name in case you decide to call.)

    BTW, here are the Tompson 5/8" and 1" spindle roughing gouges. Then are made from solid round bar stock and extremely tough, unlike roughing gouges with a tang.

    Handle_adapters_roughing2_IMG_6006.jpg

    Handle_roughing_IMG_5964.jpg

    JKJ
    If you don't mind I have a couple questions about this list and other tools. I am also new to the craft. Will the Hunter tools be well suited to hollowing small boxes (up to 6" deep) or hollow forms?

    Could you talk more about what type of grind/profiles come on the spindle and bowl gouges you recommended?

    What about Negative Rake scrapers?

    Would the "Easy Wood Tools Mid-Size Easy Hollower #1" (pic below) be similar or an alternative to the Hunter 'Hercules' tool or the Jordan hollowing tools? https://www.packardwoodworks.com/tools-jord-holl.html? I guess I'd like to know why you prefer the Hunter tools for hollowing - I want good tools - and this is the first I've heard this suggestion. I'd like a beefy tool that can handle deeper cuts and finishing the bottom of boxes and other things and really just don't know what to get. It seems with the Jordan tools you can sharpen them yourself on a good grinder setup. Thanks.
    easyhollower.jpg

    Thanks!

  11. #11
    For a budget of a few hundred dollars, I would personally recommend starting with carbide insert tools. This will allow you to get going pretty quickly, and not have to worry about the investment into a sharpening setup. I turned with carbide insert tools for many years before taking the plunge into traditional tooling. You can do a considerable amount with just a radiused square roughing gouge. I have the full sized easy wood tools version, but there are a whole bunch of options on the market nowadays for a whole range of sizes.

    When first starting out with small projects, I personally like to buy the cheapest kits first to figure things out, and then buy the more expensive kits once I know I can do a good job. I did this with pens when I first started, and bought the cheapest slimline kits to learn the process. Now I still have some slimline kits, but of higher quality, and then I've also branched out to the more expensive kits (I've been really liking the magnetic graduate kits as of late).

    Also, for pens in particular, I really like the pen drilling jaws for the lathe: https://www.pennstateind.com/store/CSCPENCHK2.html

    This makes drilling the center hole much easier and more consistent (You'll also need a MT2 Jacob's chuck to hold your drills in the tailstock). Before getting the chuck, I used my drill press, but I wasn't great at lining things up perfectly, and the drill press center drilling vises didn't seem to be as good of a solution as the chuck.

    I have two of the Nova G3 chucks, and I find them a great value. I do have additional jaws, but I find swapping jaws to be annoying and rarely do it now, and I prefer to buy additional chucks if I can justify it.

    In my opinion, with a limited budget, it makes more sense to start with carbide insert tooling, and spend any extra money on kits and turning blanks to practice and get going a bit more quickly.

    If you have already budgeted for a grinder, CBN Wheels, sharpening jigs, etc. then my recommendation for tooling would definitely be different, but I couldn't tell from your initial post whether that would be included in the few hundred dollars along with the tools or separate. Could you clarify about if you were planning on getting a sharpening setup, and what your budget meant to cover?

  12. #12
    Join Date
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    Quote Originally Posted by Allen Mattsen View Post
    If you don't mind I have a couple questions about this list and other tools. I am also new to the craft. Will the Hunter tools be well suited to hollowing small boxes (up to 6" deep) or hollow forms?

    Could you talk more about what type of grind/profiles come on the spindle and bowl gouges you recommended?

    What about Negative Rake scrapers?

    Would the "Easy Wood Tools Mid-Size Easy Hollower #1" (pic below) be similar or an alternative to the Hunter 'Hercules' tool or the Jordan hollowing tools? https://www.packardwoodworks.com/tools-jord-holl.html? I guess I'd like to know why you prefer the Hunter tools for hollowing - I want good tools - and this is the first I've heard this suggestion. I'd like a beefy tool that can handle deeper cuts and finishing the bottom of boxes and other things and really just don't know what to get. It seems with the Jordan tools you can sharpen them yourself on a good grinder setup. Thanks.
    easyhollower.jpg

    Thanks!
    Allen,

    Mike Hunter does have some tools that will handle hollow forms and other boxes. A box 6" deep is not exactly small but fairly large for a lidded box. That or a little deeper is the size of the Beads of Courage boxes/lidded bowls I usually make. I make these from dry wood by prehollowing each section, gluing together, then finish cutting the inside with one of the larger Hunter tools and smooth with a curved scraper on a Sorby multitool. (The Hunters work great on the inside too.) Examples of BOC boxes:

    BOC_A_CU_IMG_5374.jpg BOC_B_comp.jpg

    I very much like the Thompson tools because of the steel but I don't like his grinds at all. (Sorry Doug!) I grind a swept-back fingernail grind on the spindle gouges and detail gouges. I'm real particular about my spindle gouges so I grind them on the 1200 grit CBN wheel on a Tormek and strop with the leather wheels.

    Negative Rake Scrapers are the biggest "advancement" in turning in recent years. I say this with a grain of salt since they are nothing new. I have a book published in the '50 that shows a scraper ground with a negative rake! But properly sharpened, they can save a huge amount of time and eliminate all of the power sanding that most people use on bowls and platters. I've written about this in great detail in other threads here so I won't go into it now. I will show you my own grind for NRS, one I came up with some years back and find it useful on any bowl, platter, or winged piece I do. After such scraping and some quality time with hand scrapers, I almost never need sandpaper coarser than 320 grit, doing much of the sanding by hand. The NRS must have a proper burr to work = I use a burnisher to add this burr. My design has a but of a flt towards the tip, a long rounded side, and an included angle of about 60 degrees. I keep several with the burrs on different sides to give me "left" and "right" handed versions for outside and inside. I grind these from Thompson scraper stock and skew stock. I use these without handles.

    _scrapers_IMG_7778.jpg NRS_IMG_7907.jpg

    The Easy Wood tools are not even close to the Hunters. I bought some EW tools at one time and gave them away. My harsh opinion based on experience and observation: They are real easy to use and often used by beginners because no skill is needed but the finish is generally horrible, sometimes with extensive tearout needing a LOT of sanding. A full discussion of these would fill pages. My advice, don't waste your time and money unless you just want to have fun and don't aspire to excellence. The Hunter tools use a carefully engineered and extremely sharp round cutter that functions just like a sharp gouge, "cutting" instead of "scraping". The finish cut from a skillfully controlled Hunter tool can be extremely smooth and with zero tearout - just like a good bowl gouge. There are some Hunter tools which are excellent for hollowing deep and closed forms but I thought you were asking about smaller work. One big advantage for some is they never need sharpening but have replaceable cutters.

    I use the small Hunter Hercules to do almost all the cutting on these pieces except for the detail in the center of the bottom. The Hercules, followed by the NRS and hand scraping gives me excellent surfaces with minimal sanding.

    penta_maple_ellis_c_IMG_5435.jpg penta_jatoba_IMG_7636 - Copy.jpg

    I have a set of the Jordan tools and handles. They have a small scraper bit. They are excellent for hollowing green wood vessels, some work with dry wood. They leave the inside very rough. For vessels with small openings you can't feel inside this doesn't matter a bit. For things with larger openings that I insist be perfect on the inside, I use either one of the larger Hunter tools, usually followed by a teardrop scraper on a sorby swan neck handle, then sand by hand. (I haven't power sanded with rotating disks for a bunch of years.)

    I made this from dry wood. I want the inside to be as flawless as the outside.

    BOC_E_IMG_7162.jpg BOC_E_IMG_7171.jpg

    I would recommend someone new to the craft not get worked up to buy a fortune in good tools right away. Get a few basic tools, a minimum a skew chisel, spindle gouge, parting tool, and spindle roughing tool. Learn to sharpen, and not just enough go get by, but with perfection. Start and become an expert at spindle turning - this will teach you the fine tool control that will let you be an expert at turning ANYTHING! Then very slowly expand your turning and get a good bowl gouge and/or Hunter tool and learn face turning (bowls and platters). The tools you then decide to acquire will probably be determined by the direction your interests take you.

    The best path forward has been repeated here often - find an instructor/mentor, join a club, take some courses, go to symposiums and see the pros in action, read and study, ask questions, and don't get in too big a hurry. A good mentor is probably the most valuable of these - you can try different tools and see what you like best.

    JKJ

  13. #13
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    sykesville, maryland
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    Oh boy! Advice all over the map here. I'll just share my experience when I first started. I really didn't have any interest in turning, and was quite frankly afraid of it. Then a coworker convinced me to buy his lathe, which came with a set of cheap chinese tools in a wooden box. I paid $75 for the tools and a 15" craftsman lathe. I had no clue what I was doing at first. I didn't even know what a sharp tool was supposed to look like. I sharpened the cheap tools on a wet grinder and kept at it until I felt I could at least turn something round safely. I learned a lot working with those cheap chinese tools: what sharp looked like and cut like, what dull cut like, and most importantly how to sharpen those tools. In the middle all this, frustrated with the chinese tools and my sharpening skills/equipment, I bought 3 carbide tools (quality full size woodpecker) thinking this would be my saving grace. Well they worked, but I didn't like them. I could get a smoother surface using the chinese tools, at least for the few minutes they would cut before going dull. So by then I was hooked. I got a set of Sorby's off Craig's list for cheap. Bought a quality CBN sharpening system and got much better. Now I've moved up to Thompson and Carter & Son tools but still use some of the sorby's.

    My path wasn't a bad one for me, as the first tools were virtually free. But, If I were starting from scratch again, I'd probably buy a mid-grade set of tools to start with. They will serve you well and you can learn to sharpen on them before investing in better tools. As far as carbide, I feel I wasted my money (over $300) on the Woodpeckers. Not that they are not fine tools but because I don't use them much. I will use the round cutter deep inside hollow forms, but it's really grabbie. They mostly just collect dust. I have purchased other carbide tools for special purpose needs. So it's not like carbide has no place in my shop. I just prefer gouges and regular parting tools. You really only need 4 or 5 tools to do most turning: bowl and spindle gouge, parting tool, roughing spindle gouge, and maybe a skew. The skew is versatile, but it can be frustrated to learn how to use it because mistakes often complete ruin the piece. So I would recommend waiting to pick up a skew. Others think just the opposite: start with a skew. If you start with a skew, practice, practice, practice before putting it to expensive wood. And watch Alan Batty's skew video several times. He was the master of that tool.
    Last edited by tom lucas; 02-13-2021 at 12:36 AM.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Wenatchee. Wa
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    418
    If you are going to buy achuck or two spend the extra and get the newer righty- tightly chucks. I have for years used the opposite and still frequently tighten the wrong way. Having both at the same time would be in my shop a disaster! The G3 is a good product but the supernove2 will allow you to upgrade lathes and I like the wrench key much better.
    And I will say it again. Do you want to turn or spend time learning the art of sharpening? Carbide tools work well period. A 4cylinder will get you to town but a v8 will do it faster but you still get to town! For a few hundred bucks you get a set of med sized tools. And after ( if) you move to traditional tools you can use them to start another novice turning. The advice of finding other turners in your area to observe and converse with is good advice..

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by Bernie Kopfer View Post
    If you are going to buy achuck or two spend the extra and get the newer righty- tightly chucks. I have for years used the opposite and still frequently tighten the wrong way. Having both at the same time would be in my shop a disaster! The G3 is a good product but the supernove2 will allow you to upgrade lathes and I like the wrench key much better.
    And I will say it again. Do you want to turn or spend time learning the art of sharpening? Carbide tools work well period. A 4cylinder will get you to town but a v8 will do it faster but you still get to town! For a few hundred bucks you get a set of med sized tools. And after ( if) you move to traditional tools you can use them to start another novice turning. The advice of finding other turners in your area to observe and converse with is good advice..
    I agree regarding the supernova2 chuck but regarding sharpening, aside from the cost to purchase a jig/accessories (which isn’t totally inconsequential), after watching Doug Thompson’s video on sharpening for me the learning curve was negligible. Yes there is improvement in technique with time/practice, etc. but I felt with the Wolverine + varigrind 1 and a platform, basic sharpening was immediately attainable with good reproducibility.
    That being said, my next goal is tackling the 40-40 grind and freehand, but that’s another beast altogether. I also started out with carbide tools and could never get a decent finish at all. Traditional tools have been so much more rewarding and better quality in my experience, so maybe I’m jaded, but I am frustrated with the money spent on carbide and consider it a near-complete waste.

    tom

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