VOTE - Wood Lathe Tool Purchase

As discussed last night, there is a desire to buy a set of basic turning tools for the wood lathe.

I propose buying a set from Amazon at $80. The PSI is my preference.
Either set compares very well to sets costing at least $110 and up from Rockler, Woodcrafters and other on line turning sites.

Key to a good set is M2 tool steel for durability of the cutting edge and overall length of the tool for ergonomic leverage. Either Amazon set would work.
Doubling the price paid for a set gets you a “Brand Name” and possibly a few inches on the handle length. We can replace handles for little money.

PSI Lathe Tool Set

Savannah Lathe Tool Set

I’ll volunteer to lead an intro class for turning on the lathe for anyone who wants to get started.

Key to lathe turning success is a sharp tool. We have the equipment in the hive to sharpen lathe tools. A quick touch up (under a minute) can be made with 400 grit wet or dry paper on a flat surface by hand stropping the tool. Two of the better wood tool sharpening outfits are a belt sander and a disk sander both outfitted with fine grit. The two links below are top tier tools, which resemble the ones we have.

Most of the art of sharpening is holding the tool blade at the right angle to hone it. There are very simple methods to hand hone tools which avoid the cost of the systems shown in links below.
We can review this process in the Intro to Turning class.
Sorby Sharpening System (=Rolls Royce)

Disk Sharpening System.

I’d support the basic PSI set. Excluding the tip grind, every turning tool I’ve used has been the same. HSS is HSS. My dad has a $140 skew chisel that I’ve used. It works the same as my $25 Skew. He agrees, but then points out he got his for $5 at his wood turner club raffle so he’s $20 ahead of me.

I’d go against getting the fancy sharpening systems.They are tedious and fiddly. For general use, it doesn’t matter if you have a 35 degree bevel vs a 32 degree bevel. And if that would make a difference to you, you’ll likely have your own set of tools anyway. An inevitably, no matter what system you have, someone will grind it on potato setting anyway.

I use a standard bench grinder at home, and we have one of those in the metal shop. Yes it would be tedious to walk back over to the metal shop to refresh the edge on your tool, but I don’t know that a dedicated grinder by the lathe makes a ton of sense either. So there is plenty of room for discussion on that topic.

I vote yes for the set. For sharpening, we should augment any grinder (really shouldn’t have to use a grinder often on lathe tools), with some wet or dry sand paper on a flat plate. That plate could be anything, but a thick piece of flat glass makes a great surface to put sandpaper on for tuning up an edge that is starting to dull a little.

I vote yes.

I also agree on the flat glass with some wet sandpaper. Super high grit. I just sharpened a scraper for my 3D printer. I did get the simple rolling guide to hold the scraper. Noting fancy, helps to get the same angle.


If we got carbide scrapers, we wouldn’t need to sharpen the tools at all (but de gustibus non disputandem est!)

Also, getting a single bevel on a gouge is rather tedious (until you learn the technique, which can take a while – YMMV),
so I would recommend a OneWay Wolverine basic kit which allow sharpening gouges much more easily and consistently, and
costs only about $90 at Amazon:


Is there a reason (other than price) to go with super-high grit sandpaper over a waterstone? I know both would do the job, just curious since the waterstone would be less disposable and we could skip the glass.

vote yes

There is a never ending debate on sharpening tools.

My points to make.
Cutting a bevel or angle on the tool with a grinding wheel is not something you need to do very often. (Can also use belt sander or sanding disk)
Grinding that gross angle establishes the correct angle. Honing then takes the cutting edge to ready sharpness.
The key question is how sharp does this edge need to be? Years ago as I learned to grind HHS cutting tools for a lathe by hand, I was shown how to test the edge by scraping a shaving from a finger nail. Sharp enough to easily scrape from the back of your finger nail is good enough to cut wood or steel. It’s also fair to note that it’s tough to cut paper or shave hair with many tools.
That said a scalpel sharp block plane or knife is truly a wonder to behold.

It is also important to note that cutting blade angles as documented in references are idealized and often tradition or personal opinion rather than the result of methodical experiments. Industrial experiments have done great work in scientific design of metal cutting tools. Not so much with wood tools. At any rate, based on my experience the variation of a few degrees in grind angle does not materially affect the cut. Setting up a grinding jig requires both tools and training. Whereas, a good enough angle can be done with eye, hand and a protractor.

The edge sharpness achieved by progressive refining with finer grits is what makes that blade sharp. Sandpaper, waterstone, diamonds or Tormak.

As to why refine / sharpen a lathe tool with sand paper? You can spend a lot of time and energy on sharpening tools or stay simple. I choose simple.
The scary sharp philosophy Scary sharp - Wikipedia

More extensive discussion Scary sharp fact or fiction??

I personally don’t follow all the sand paper progressions. 400 or 600 grit gets the blade pretty darn sharp.


I don’t think anyone is being argumentative, welcome to Internet discussion.

For all of this,I would suggest simple and easy and work from there.

I vote yes.

p.s. I agree that having sharpening as part of an intro to the lathe would be great!


As discussed last night, there is a desire to buy a set of basic turning tools for the wood lathe.

Key to lathe turning success is a sharp tool.

I vote yes

Ahh ok so it’s just preference. I wasn’t sure if it was a necessity with lathing tools since I can see how some of the more concave blades could be a bit tricky with a waterstone.

Thanks for the write up!



Abstain! Damnit, I abstain!!!

The tool set has arrived and has been sharpened.(Out of the box, was just OK. Now they’re sharper)
I’ve cut fat chips with the several tested this afternoon. The big gouge makes cedar shavings fit for a hamster fly off the wood.

Come try them out Tuesday evening.