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Lathe tools from Hacksaw blades

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Colin LLoyd12/01/2015 16:27:39
211 forum posts
18 photos

I read somewhere that you can make lathe tools from bandsaw and hacksaw blades - in fact anything that is HSS.

I'm making very small items often requiring very narrow round grooves in 4mm round rod and parting off lengths of 6mm. Standard lathe tools seem a little large for these particular needs - my parting tool cuts a groove nearly as wide as the item I am making.

So is it feasible to make grooving and parting tools from HSS hacksaw and/or bandsaw blades and if so, any advice as to how to sharpen these.

Or would you recommend using files (rat-tail files) held vertically (somehow) in the tool post such that the file acts tangentially against the rotating rod for creating the grooves. A short length of file (20mm say) could be easily supported in a clamp construction that fits into the tool post.

JasonB12/01/2015 16:42:54
22555 forum posts
2634 photos
1 articles

You could have a look at the "mini-thin" parting and grooving tools. These take a range of carbide tips and will groove or part down to 0.019" wide both square and rounded bottoms and also thread cut.

I often use mine to cut the grooves for E-clips on 3mm silversteel as well as parting off small items.

Its not that hard to make a holder if you just buy some tips and a screw though the UK supplier often has sets with a holder on special offer.

Some people use an old slitting saw mounted vertically, you get plenty of sharp cutting edges by just moving the saw one tooth at a time as they wear.


Colin LLoyd12/01/2015 17:33:27
211 forum posts
18 photos

Thanks Jason - but what a price at MSC! £143 for a set of 4. If I was going into production, I might get a set but I'm only planning to make 6. I've just had a look at the slitting saw option. Normally the slitting saw is rotating and cuts a slot out of the material held by a vice on the cross slide - am I correct? So if the slitting saw is held fast somehow on the cross slide and cuts against the rotating material in the lathe - should I go for the biggest diameter slitting saw or the smallest diameter?

Bazyle12/01/2015 17:42:49
6295 forum posts
222 photos

Certainly you can use the steel from hacksaw and other blades but be careful no to overheat them when grinding owing to the thin section. If you do overheat the blade you can retemper but that is more hassle. You will also have to devise a way of holding them.

You might be better off starting with an HSS parting tool in its holder that you grind thinner just at the end for 2-3 mm to keep maximum strength and ridgidity.

Possibly you could mount a piece of mild steel in the toolholder, drill for the workpiece to go through it, then make a saw cut through it at the target groove and parting line. Then use a hacksaw in its frame to do the groove and cut while rotating the workpiece thus using all of the available cutting points.

JasonB12/01/2015 17:46:50
22555 forum posts
2634 photos
1 articles

As I said you can get the inserts which are double ended for about £10 and make a holder if you want.

If you don't need to part very deeply then a smaller dia slitting saw will do. Thats right keep the blade stationary and let the work move against it.


EDIT, I knew I had seen someone doing it recently, here is our own Mr Hart's method. And Dave from the Emerald isle's hacksaw blade holder


Edited By JasonB on 12/01/2015 17:50:28

Edited By JasonB on 12/01/2015 17:53:43

John C12/01/2015 18:00:19
273 forum posts
95 photos

I have made parting tools from standard hacksaw blades. Grind off the teeth so you don't damage your holder. I put some top rake on, abut 7 degrees, and relieve the front. The blades are not stiff, so take it very easy!


Michael Cox 112/01/2015 18:26:48
549 forum posts
27 photos

Hi Colin,

Here is another hacksaw blade grooving and parting tool:


Peter G. Shaw12/01/2015 19:22:57
1408 forum posts
44 photos

Len Mason in his book "Using the Small Lathe" gives a sketch of such a tool for the very purpose you require.

I have tried it, and failed. I suspect because my hacksaw blade was not suitable - my so-called cutting corner turned into a nice smooth curve almost before it touched the metal.

What I have done is to take Mason's idea and use it with an old 4" x 1/8" file. The 1/8" or 3.2mm width is actually too wide for my lathe to handle easily so I ground it down to about 1.8mm and this works extremely well up to about 18-20mm diameter parting off. I do use plenty of cutting fluid and a heavy continuous cut.

I did originally have a 1.6mm wide parting off tool which worked well - until I became too ambitious that was.

So yes, narrow homemade parting off tools can be made and will work satisfactorily provide one takes the requisite amount of care.

Have a go - what can you lose?


Peter G. Shaw

Neil Wyatt12/01/2015 19:39:07
18990 forum posts
734 photos
80 articles

One end of my 1/16" parting tool is ground down to just 1/32" at the end, for about 1/8".


Russell Eberhardt12/01/2015 19:44:44
2728 forum posts
86 photos

I have a parting tool made from a piece of HSS hacksaw blade about 40 years ago. It's only 0.75 mm wide and is ideal for parting very small components. The 1/2 in depth makes it quite robust enough. Don't use the common flexible blades though it has to be HSS.


Roderick Jenkins12/01/2015 19:48:25
2176 forum posts
608 photos

I've had success with a Mason style blade holder. As Peter infers, you do have to use a solid HSS blade not a bi-metal or flexi. I've used this one for making piston ring grooves for my i.c. engines.



As you can perhaps see, I managed to grind a bit of relief so that the blade tapers towards the base.



Vic12/01/2015 23:03:31
3060 forum posts
8 photos

I've seen Stanley blades also used for grooving/parting small stuff.

Danny M2Z13/01/2015 03:04:22
962 forum posts
1 photos

G'day Colin.

Perfect tool for cutting cylinder fins in aluminium heads for small engines.

Like has already been said, grind the relief and back-rake slowly so as not to kill the temper (I used a small stone point in a Dremel). Minimum projection for the job.

Probably make an interesting project for my Harold Hall grinding table to make a suitable tool holder - that would give repeatable angles.

* Danny M *

Michael Gilligan13/01/2015 07:50:34
20052 forum posts
1040 photos
Posted by Danny M2Z on 13/01/2015 03:04:22:

Like has already been said, grind the relief and back-rake slowly so as not to kill the temper


I think it worth mentioning that HSS [as per the original question] is unlikely to lose temper in any realistic grinding process.


Edited By Michael Gilligan on 13/01/2015 07:52:24

Mick Henshall13/01/2015 09:53:17
561 forum posts
34 photos

I haven't tried this but how about tungsten tipped circular saw blades? Just cut a section with one tooth on it whatever width suits the size of tooth and cut to centre of blade, a toolholder can be made up to suit, quite a lot of tools can be sourced from a single blade,which are cheap enough,and heat shouldn'affect the tip

Mick H

Colin LLoyd13/01/2015 11:25:01
211 forum posts
18 photos

Hi Guys,

All very useful and I want to record all the answers for current and future reference. Is there a way within the Forum options to create a consolidated print-out (to file or printer) of the answers. Currently I'm copying and pasting the replies into a document file, but it would be useful to record other details like time and date, the thread title and start date, etc. I know other website forums have this facility but can't seem to find it on this one.

Colin LLoyd14/01/2015 11:21:45
211 forum posts
18 photos

With regard to using HSS solid hacksaw blades rather than Bi-metal flexible ones (which appear to be all the local DIY shops stock these days), does anybody have recommendations? Named products? And are there any subtle differences between HSS blades that would make one blade better as a lathe tool than others?

Roderick Jenkins14/01/2015 11:51:46
2176 forum posts
608 photos

Eclipse are as good a brand as you'll get. I've got some Halfords own brand HSS. I do tend to hoard my old hacksaw blades but as all the markings have worn off I can't tell what they are crook


Edited By Roderick Jenkins on 14/01/2015 11:53:08

Ed Duffner14/01/2015 12:23:38
834 forum posts
94 photos

Hi Colin,

With regards to your question about grabbing the text and times etc. I've been using a program called TextPad for years. If I select all the posts on the page, plus the title, then copy and paste into Textpad it only grabs the text, so none of the HTML or photos etc. I haven't tried it with Windows notepad as I have chosen to replace it with Textpad.


Colin LLoyd14/01/2015 12:39:08
211 forum posts
18 photos

Hi Ed,

I've been doing that type of thing but pasting as unformatted text into LibreOffice Writer (I've been an open-source software advocate ever since Linus Torvald first created Linux). But I've just tried to do a "print" from the web-page itself in a Chromium browser. You need to highlight the complete page which involves both left button and scroll wheel. Then right click to bring up the "print" option. You can then print to printer or file as a pdf. You get all the entries with pertinent information including photos etc - but unfortunately it is a complete copy of the webpage - and you get all the adverts down the right hand side.

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