Carbide Lathe Tooling for Small Lathes

Like most people who first started in machining, I purchased a cheap set of indexable lathe tools with triangular inserts.

cheap carbide tool

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 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.

Shown with the CCMT insert for steel
Shown with the CCMT insert for steel

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.

CCGT insert next to test piece
CCGT insert next to the cut it left

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.