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Tool: Ax Carbide Lathe Tools Buy Now
MSRP: $ 119.95
IIf you feel like wasting an entire afternoon, simply type “high speed carbide and steel turning tools” into your favorite Internet search engine. If you’d rather spend that time creating something beautiful and functional on a lathe, then picking up a set of “The Ax” turning tools from Carter Products would be a good place to start.
These full-size carbide tools are beautiful and oversized in almost every way. Tool fit, finish and balance are superior to most turning tools I’ve handled, and the bits come in familiar configurations (if you’ve used other carbide turning tools): square, round and diamond. The square tool comes with a radius cutter installed, but included in the box is also a true square cutter – a nice perk.
Each tool has its limitations, so let’s start there. My only difficulty was not the fault of the tools themselves, but a question of geometry.
The tools are large and while the size of the cutters allows them to do a lot of work and remove material quickly, I found that it sometimes limited the level of detail possible on more intricate patterns. Bowls and simple spindles weren’t a problem, but the more delicate Windsor-style balustrades presented a challenge. Carter Products has confirmed plans to release an expanded line of tools in different sizes that will complement the full-size line and go a long way in making these more detailed modules accessible.
The other limitation often leveled against carbide tipped turning tools is their inability to match the polished and burnished surfaces left by a sharp chisel or gouge. In response to this challenge, both the square and round point tools in this line are equipped with a round toolbar with a 1⁄2“Flat on the bottom. The smooth and beveled transitions between the two surfaces allow tools to be rolled into a supported cutting cut and light passes in this angled position, which significantly reduced the amount of sanding required for a surface ready to finish. I found this technique very effective with the square cutter, but I still needed some 220 grit sandpaper nearby for the final sanding.
The shape and size of the handles look a bit unorthodox, but they are comfortable and make perfect sense in practice. The flats provide tactile feedback on the angle of the tool to give me precise control over the cutting edge, and the color-coded dials keep me straight on which tool I’m gripping.
All in all, this is more than just “another” set of carbide turning tools. The superior quality and innovative features set them apart and the price also makes them attractive. At just under $ 120 each, a full set of these carbide tipped turning tools are still a significant investment, but they present significant value compared to other tools in this class. (Replacement burs start at $ 14.99.) And they are made in the United States. Recommended.
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