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Turning tools - hand ground

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JohnF14/04/2018 19:14:25
644 forum posts
60 photos

Hi All there often seems to be discussions on grinding HSS tools so I added a small album to my photo's of a few selections of tools I have ground up over time and use regularly.

All are free hand ground on a normal bench grinder from standard HSS blanks, some have a tool ground on each end, some from round but most from square HSS.

Hope it interests some members and ig you want any more info please let me know

Sample photo of threading tools


Edited By JohnF on 14/04/2018 19:14:51

vintagengineer14/04/2018 20:12:23
459 forum posts
6 photos

Very nice! I spent two weeks learning how to make my own turning tools.

Jon Cameron14/04/2018 23:52:53
210 forum posts
83 photos

Two weeks I'm still learning. Always get the tip too round or not enough. It's all a skill.

JohnF14/04/2018 23:59:35
644 forum posts
60 photos

Thought i maybe should add the other photo's as well

Free Hand boring tools


Free hand Form tools

Vic15/04/2018 00:01:53
1634 forum posts
9 photos

Nice job John! I was given a nicely ground Boring tool made from HSS, I’ll try and take a pic.

IanT15/04/2018 09:05:12
1109 forum posts
107 photos

When you say "free hand" John - you are not using any guidance at all (apart from the rest)?

If that's so - I'm very impressed - much better than I can manage without my various bits and bobs (i.e. guides) to set my angles up and keep them repeatable etc..



JohnF15/04/2018 10:07:18
644 forum posts
60 photos

Yes Ian completely free hand no gizmos only a protractor or thread gauge etc to get the correct angles. I don’t worry too much about the angle being “dead on” to the main shank on say a screwing tool just close enough then set it spot on in the tool holder.

les peacock15/04/2018 17:59:23
18 forum posts

I have just purchased my first lathe and after reading this post making your own tools where is the best place to purchase hss blanks and also what are the hardest materials you can machine with these blanks if ground correctly

JohnF15/04/2018 20:43:59
644 forum posts
60 photos

Hi Les, my tools are mainly made from the old UK tool makers blanks, Eclipse, Osbourne, Clarkson, Super Capital etc but I have also used some of the Chinese HSS sold by most of the usual ME suppliers on here and been pleasantly surprised with the performance of the tools. You can of course keep an eye on "the bay" for old school tool blanks but try to buy unground / unused ones.

As far as what you can machine, well most steels and any non ferrous material, some of the modern high alloy steels may well present a problem but in most model engineering you are unlikely to use them. I recently turned a replacement part that was a little over 2.5" made from EN24T using HSS tools, this is a fairly tough material but well within the capabilities of HSS. Indeed I rarely use carbide but it does have its uses and advantages.


martin perman15/04/2018 21:11:22
1222 forum posts
57 photos
Posted by JohnF on 15/04/2018 10:07:18:

Yes Ian completely free hand no gizmos only a protractor or thread gauge etc to get the correct angles. I don’t worry too much about the angle being “dead on” to the main shank on say a screwing tool just close enough then set it spot on in the tool holder.

At the beginning of my apprenticeship, 1972, I and my fellow apprentices for that year were taught how to make our own HSS Tools and to add a bit of competition we were not allowed to go near a lathe until we go it right, I still have my thread gauge.

In the 1980's when my Grandfather died my dad and I split Grandad's workshop between us and my Brother and I have a small box full of 1/4" HSS blanks which I am loath to use because of who owned them.

Martin P

SillyOldDuffer16/04/2018 09:24:26
2942 forum posts
593 photos

Well I'm impressed! Vastly superior to my attempts at grinding. What's the secret John? Is it just a steady hand or what?


JohnF16/04/2018 10:44:08
644 forum posts
60 photos

Morning Dave, a steady hand a decent grinder with well dressed wheels and a good eye, I honestly don't use anything special just experience over many years, when I did my apprenticeship in the 60's we were expected to grind our own tools, there was of course a tool room for fancy stuff and milling cutters but no disposable tip tools and we all ground our own. Disposable tips started to appear in the mid 60's I think.

larry phelan 116/04/2018 12:56:08
115 forum posts

Hi Everyone,

I,d like to throw in my tuppence worth to this post. When I bought my lathe,I bought a set of turning tools with it [the cheap 5-in-a-box three sided type ] I also bought some HSS blanks and some tipped threading tools. So far,so good,but it was not long before my tipped tools bit the dust,due to my not too gentle touch. Since they are not cheap to replace,I had to begin a crash course in tool grinding using my blanks. I have never gone back to the tipped ones,in fact,I still have a few,never out of the box..I have a simple bench grinder,not a top-of-the-range one,fitted with with a fairly good home made rest and that,s all I use. For grinding threading tools I do use a guide,just a strip of flat clamped to the table at the angle required,nothing fancy,but it works.

HSS is cheap enough and even if you chip it,as I do,it,s easy enough to regrind,unlike tipped ones. I find that it can handle almost everything I come across. I dont claim that my efforts are in the same class as the above,far from it !,but they give me food for thought. I never thought of grinding internal threading tools from one piece,as above. There is no doubt they are a beautiful job and well made.

Perhaps it is time for me to do an "Advanced Course" in tool grinding ??. I find form tools the most difficult to get right,small ones mostly,but then I dont need those very often.

As they say,at this point "Back to the grindstone"

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