Like most people who first started in machining, I purchased a cheap set of indexable lathe tools with triangular inserts.
At the time, I probably ran the lathe too slow, with a depth of cut not deep enough. Left a horrible finish, and convinced me to use hand ground HSS lathe bits. That is what I have been using until very recently. Curtis over at http://www.latheinserts.com sells carbide tool holders with inserts marketed towards the hobby bench top lathe. I thought I would give a set a try on my Lathemaster 8×14 lathe, having always wanted more than what my cheap carbide set could deliver. The tool holder I picked out is the 3/8th sized one, and comes with 4 CCMT inserts for steel, and two CCGT polished inserts for aluminum.
I first tried the CCGT insert on a piece of 6061 aluminum, at about 1,000rpm spindle speed. The experience left a huge smile on my face, my thoughts towards modern, quality carbide have been changed forever.
The CCMT insert left a very nice finish on a piece of 0-1 drill rod as well. On both steel and aluminum, I could take light fuzz cuts of .001 to .002, something that I thought carbide couldn’t do well.
I am very pleased with my purchase from Curtis, and will use carbide every chance I can on the lathe from now on.