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Why are insert toolholders so expensive?

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Steve Crow10/09/2019 19:11:54
211 forum posts
65 photos

I have just made a toolholder for a grooving insert as I didn't want to spend £70 to buy one.  Link - Scroll down for pictures.

I know there are some very reasonable prices out there (JB for example), but once you start looking at name and industry stuff, you're nearly at 3 figures.

Most don't seem to have any weird geometry or seem particularly difficult to make.

Am I missing something here? Exotic materials maybe?

I can understand the need for something really rigid with boring bars but general turning tools?

I'm sure I'll be enlightened shortly.




Edited By Steve Crow on 10/09/2019 19:13:09

JasonB10/09/2019 19:18:46
18119 forum posts
1996 photos
1 articles

My genuine version is extreamly hard, I destroyed 3 inserts trying the mill it down but a change to different inserts got through it just. So material and heat treatment has to be paid for.

I also waited until it was on offer at MSC and paid about half that.

Steve Crow10/09/2019 19:35:34
211 forum posts
65 photos

Oh. I hope my mild steel holder is up to the job!

They are on offer at the moment but only as a kit with 4 inserts, none that I need.

Daniel10/09/2019 20:23:13
301 forum posts
48 photos

Hi Steve,

As you mentioned, JB's prices are absolutely reasonable.

I recently made a sort of binge order with Jenny, and I'm really happy with what was supplied, for the price. These are my goto tools.

I did splash out with an industry supplier for my boring bars, but I remain unconvinced that, for someone in my situation, the extra expense was justified.

I've recently been looking at Aliexpress (?), and the prices of inserts there do seem worth a try.



Edited for badly placed comma. wink

Edited By Daniel on 10/09/2019 20:33:13

Neil Lickfold10/09/2019 20:28:04
614 forum posts
102 photos

Good industrial holders are expensive for many reasons, some because the retailer wants to tripple their margin, some because of the materials used, and increased difficulty in manufacturing, the heat treatment, the vibration dampening qualities, or other vibration control technology as well.

Then there is the through coolant range , where the coolant comes out near the cutting edges , like the new series of grooving and turning tool holders. These work well with coolant or chilled air for the dry cutting technology.

There is a fairly new material for tool holders so that the tool does not ring. No idea how it works or what it actually is. This is used in many of the shrink type milling holders, and some of the insert holders.

some examples

Swiss tools


Mitsubishi part off tooling grooving          


Kyocera turning tool holders 




Edited By Neil Lickfold on 10/09/2019 20:29:50

Daniel10/09/2019 20:37:26
301 forum posts
48 photos

As you say, Neil, the boring bars I was referring to, do have the through coolant option.

As I don't use that, I feel I may have paid over the odds, for what I really need.



Andrew Johnston10/09/2019 21:10:57
5504 forum posts
647 photos

Several reasons, first the quality of material and heat treatment. These are needed as the tooling may be in use for many hours a day over a long period. Industrial users will most likely be using higher speeds, DOC and feedrates than a hobby machine can, so the forces on the tool holder will be much higher.The toolholder needs to be stiff, you don't want it bending under the high cutting forces. Also the precision to which the toolholder is made is critical. When an industrial user swaps an insert it is expected to go back into precisely the same place and wothout any shake so that position references and tool height do not need adjusting.


Mark Rand10/09/2019 22:13:58
888 forum posts
5 photos

It's really nice to have carbide anvils under the inserts on tools. They make quite a difference to the life of the tool and the insert.

old mart10/09/2019 22:23:28
1771 forum posts
138 photos

I have a couple of dozen 20mm toolholders of many different shapes for the museums Smart & Brown model A. They are all milled down to 17.53mm to go in the toolpost without bothering about shims. I use a 50mm 5 insert Ceratizit shell mill with RPHX12 round inserts. I have a lot of inserts for this shell mill and they either index in 4 or 8 places. Milling down any of the toolholders is very hard on the inserts, with one or two indexes required for each. I can definitely say that the very cheap Chinese holders are just as hard to mill down as the Sandvik, Korloy, Stellram, Iscar, Tungalloy, Kennametal, Seco, to name those that I can think of at the minute. I buy them all on Ebay, and certainly would never pay more than £18, even for the big names. This is the main reason I have never contemplated getting a QCTP.

I make some toolholders for the more obscure insert shapes, along with parting blade holders, boring and threading insert bars.

 Carbide shims are good to save damage to the toolholder if there is a big crash. The cheap shims available from China are not carbide, they are steel.

Edited By old mart on 10/09/2019 22:27:13

Hacksaw10/09/2019 22:56:19
428 forum posts
173 photos

If you run out of inserts you can just grind an edge on the holder ,if it's a hardened one , and carry on....blush

I wouldn't ever do that though. wink

old mart10/09/2019 23:00:50
1771 forum posts
138 photos

None of those holders are too hard to file, but they are not winkfar off.

Hacksaw11/09/2019 00:03:43
428 forum posts
173 photos

Slightly off topic , what are those lathe tools that are bent downwards for ? You see them on secondhand tool stalls , usually the last thing to sell , as they're massive industrial size .. They look like they have huge negative rake and would just scrape metal away

Bill Davies 211/09/2019 00:39:54
188 forum posts
11 photos

Regarding the angled lathe tools, if Hacksaw saw old brazed carbide tools, the carbide was very brittle and zero or positive rake angles would crumble. Years ago, I worked on a cutter grinding section, and had to re-sharpen batches of these on a double-ended diamond wheel.

John Haine11/09/2019 08:50:39
3096 forum posts
162 photos

It's worth remembering that the rigidity of steel is not related to its hardness at least for forces where it doesn't deform plastically. Holders will be hardened and tempered mainly to make them robust with frequent insert changes and high cutting temperatures. It's quite possible to make perfectly satisfactory holders from BMS for amateur use.

ChrisB11/09/2019 09:54:03
493 forum posts
190 photos
Posted by Hacksaw on 11/09/2019 00:03:43:

Slightly off topic , what are those lathe tools that are bent downwards for ? You see them on secondhand tool stalls , usually the last thing to sell , as they're massive industrial size .. They look like they have huge negative rake and would just scrape metal away

Looks like you're refering to TNMG insert type holder. I use that type of inserts and holder and they work very well for me. They like higher speeds and feeds and the finish I get is mirror like. Not so good on small diameters as the tool tends to push the work a bit. What I specially like about them is the 6 tips in one insert, so one insert will last quite a long time.

Vic11/09/2019 10:34:35
2500 forum posts
14 photos

I think the answer is they aren’t expensive. At least in the sizes many hobbyists use. It says here prices from £12.


JasonB11/09/2019 13:57:47
18119 forum posts
1996 photos
1 articles

Thread would be better titled whey are "QUALITY or INDUSTRIAL" holders expensive

The APT ones are just mid range far eastern ones, probably no different to Glanze or ARC, I've one of theirs and it is fine for my use.. You can buy cheaper you can buy more expensive brand names, Andrew sums it up quite well why there are differences in price.

Vic11/09/2019 15:18:32
2500 forum posts
14 photos

I suspect one of the critical differences between industrial and hobby tool holders is the tight tolerance of its dimensions. The whole point of modern industrial tool holders used for example in CNC machines is that you don’t spoil the whole point of them by bolting them into an adjustable change holder. The insert or whole tool can be removed and replaced without even thinking if the tool is on centre.

The last tool holder I bought was £14 inc postage and was not too difficult to machine so that once fixed in my four way tool post is always on centre. The most expensive holder I bought was from JB cutting tools at £20 but it is a double sided holder so you can flip it over and cut left or right with it.

Stueeee11/09/2019 17:49:32
49 forum posts
Posted by JasonB on 11/09/2019 13:57:47:

Thread would be better titled whey are "QUALITY or INDUSTRIAL" holders expensive

The APT ones are just mid range far eastern ones, probably no different to Glanze or ARC, I've one of theirs and it is fine for my use.. You can buy cheaper you can buy more expensive brand names, Andrew sums it up quite well why there are differences in price.

I think a lot of of "industrial" toolholders are of far eastern origin regardless of the price, certainly some of the major suppliers' own brands .

A catalogued toolholder I ordered from MSC Industrial a couple of years ago turned out to actually be shipped direct from APT when it arrived here.

There weren't any quality issues with the tool, but I did wonder just how much extra I had paid MSC where the "value add" amounted to a phone call or email from MSC to APT.

I have recently bought some 16ER/IR toolholders direct from China, they cost about 15% of the ones sold by MSC. The quality of these has been fine so far, albeit they haven't been in all day every day use.

C T11/09/2019 18:47:46
38 forum posts
2 photos

I have worked for a premium company in the manufacture of tool holders for carbide inserts. When I first started the general consensus within the industry was any profits to be made was in the sale of the tungsten carbide and the steel tooling was a means to hold profit making product. The tool holders were marketed at a price that was competitive with that of other manufacturers not at the real cost to make, a strategy used by other industries such as men's razor manufacturers. The difference with these two examples is that the razor blades to fit the loss making razor are unique and you can only purchase the blades made by the supplier of the razor, therefore the real profits are made by the continued supply of replacement blades. On the other hand tungsten carbide inserts are made to ISO standards so you can use any companies insert in any companies tool holder. A company will have sold you a tool holder at rock bottom price hoping you continue purchase their inserts for at least the life of the tool holder. The cutting tool industry was having to adjust prices to remain competitive with the amount of much cheaper imported tungsten carbide cutting tools available. The manufacturing cost of the steel tool holder was scrutinised and eventually they were marketed at a price consistent with the cost to make plus a profit, hence a sharp rise in the cost of steel tool holders and the higher prices we see now from premium companies.

The quality of the tool holders did not rise they are and always were of top quality manufactured to a high standard, they want the best holders to hold their tungsten carbide, failures can be very expensive to the company using them.

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