How to Make Your
Own Woodturning Tools
What does a broken 1/2″ drill bit, a cold chisel, a 1/2 x 1/2″ pc of steel from home depot, a 1/2″ pc of round bar from home depot and carbide cutting bits (carbide inserts) have in common?
Well, properly shaped and machined …then add a nice wood handle and you have all the tools you need to turn just about anything. On top of that once you figure out how to use these materials to make your own turning tools you have the basis to make just about any type of turning tool you might need.
Al Furtado Shows You How to
Make Your Own Woodturning Tools
My Desire to Buy Every
Woodturning Tool Available!
For me, its easy to get caught up in a Sorby tool catalog or just searching on Amazon or Ebay for woodturning tools and I get lost for hours ….thinking “man, I need 1/4″ bowl gouge, 3/8″ bowl gouge, 1/2″ bowl gouge, 5/8″ bowl gouge, 3/4″ bowl gouge and a 1″ bowl gouge all with a fingernail grind …..then I need that same set with a standard grind and I need the same sizes in a spindle gouge both standard and fingernail grind ….oh ya, I need a parting tool ….how about a couple of different sizes of parting tools. Yep, I need a full set of scrapers and then I need some of those skew gouges for perfect finishes I see the masters making, can’t forget a roughing gouge….I mean, 1/2″ 3/4″ 1″ and at least 1 1/2” maybe bigger….I need all these, right?
Woodturning Is Addictive
I know you know what I mean. This hobby of woodturning is more addictive than crack cocaine! You think more tools, the best tools will make you a better turner …maybe so, but who has the cash for all these pieces of hardware because we haven’t even started talking about the wood lathe you have and the woodlathe you want to get, not to mention all the wood lathe accessories you’re gonna need!
Make Your Own Woodturning Tools
Well, one of the things that really got me excited was making your own woodturning tools, that’s right you can be a DIY woodturning tool maker 🙂 I think there is actually a subculture out there of guys making their own tools out of anything from old screwdrivers, files to auto or truck leafsprings.
The problem for me is that I’m not a metal guy. I can draw a house, building or shoppoing center and I can build that same drawing doing everything myself …..but I never learned how to work with metal. The closest I ever came to working with metal was aluminum siding, electrical wire and rebar for concrete….. well, ok, nails for my nail guy and screws for the screw gun 🙂
Been Sick, No Money for Expensive Woodturning Tools
Truth is I’ve been very sick for quite a while. When you’re sick you can’t work, I hate sitting or laying around so by “The Grace of God” I discovered wooodturning. Not too physical. I could find a low cost wood lathe at Harbor Freight and I could also find a cheap set of Chinese turning tools at Harbor Freight. That’s how I started.
I read as much as I could online and watched a ton of youtube videos. I learned much from Cap’n Eddie and too many others to mention. So, I thought I would share some of my journey in these pages.
My Woodturning Tools Were Junk!
The one thing I quickly found out was that my turning tools were really bad. I hand sharpened them till I totally screwed them up. Then the first investment was a Oneway Wolverine Sharpening System. I learned to sharpen my turning tools properly starting at that point.
Next, once I figured my tools really were junk and I needed something better. I stumbled on some DIY woodturning tool makers.
That’s when I discovered the many different ways of making your own woodturning tools. In these pages I hope to bring some of these methods to you. Some I will have tried, others I will just pass along because I’m just too sick to try everything I see but plan on doing it or trying these DIY tool building methods soon, however, you need to know now how to make some of this stuff.
I finally did learn that I could regrind the cheap tools that I had into a more useful grind or simply something that actually worked.
Started Making My
Own Woodturning Tools
Since I did not have much money I figured I could buy a piece of 1/2 x 1/2″ steel and a piece of 3/8 x 3/8″ steel from online metals, I could get some carbide cutters for a couple bucks a piece and then figure out how to grind a small platform for the cutter, tap the steel to attach the carbide cutter and make a wooden handle. My first attempt turned out pretty good, in fact, its one of my go to tools when I’m working with a tricky piece of wood.
My CARBIDE Woodturning Tool
I made a square and circular carbide scraper using 5/8″ carbide square and circular cutters. You can find them online but you should make sure they are for cutting wood. The square cutters are fairly cheap and you can even get a 4 sided radius carbide cutters, they are a little less likely to grab, but grab they do!
I watched a guy called Travis on youtube make a set of carbide tipped woodturning tools and just copied him. They are pretty rough but they really work well.
Made A Parting Tool for Woodturning
I did make a 1/16″ parting tool from a reciprocating saw blade with a metal handle. That was fun, I learned a bunch and use the tool all the time. It’s very satisfying to make your own tools!
Didn’t Know Anything About Metal
Then I wanted to make a 1 1/2″ wide scraper so I picked up a piece of steel from home depot and ground down an edge on the steel, I didn’t have a handle yet but I wanted to try the tool out. It ended up burning the wood more than cutting, I tried different angles ….same thing, just wouldn’t cut. I was stumped, thought I would be cranking out all kinds of turning tools …but remember when I said I didn’t know anything about metal 🙂
Turns out there are a whole bunch of different types of steel. And then you have the hardening process, have to heat it in a special oven, air cool it or oil cool it, heat it again to get a temper ….I almost put an end to my woodturning tool making adventures!
Sorry, I got a little long winded talking about making your own woodturning tools ….only because I know you might like doing that type of thing and you might be in the same position I was in regarding not having enough cash to have all to good tools you’d really like to have!
Enter Al Furtado.
I’m not sure how long Al has been turning, but I know he really enjoys it and he enjoys sharing his projects and his tools!!! Al seems to be a frugal guy or maybe he’s just strapped for cash like a lot of us…..so, he makes do with what he has and he makes a lot of his own woodturning tools and accessories.
Al made a type of bowl gouge that is perfect for himself from a 1/2″ drill bit that was broken. He played around until he got the grind correct and now it is his “go to” tool when turning bowls. The big secret is the metal that the drill bit is made from, it is already hardened and when shapened it keeps a nice sharp edge for a long time. You don’t have to heat treat it.
Al takes a common sense approach to making woodturning tools that will save you a ton of money. In the video below he shows you some of his favorite tools and how he made them from either old, broken or leftover tools that are made with hadened steel and all you need to do is put an edge on the tool and make a handle for it.
The video quality isn’t the best but if the content doesn’t get your creative juices flowing …..then nothing will!
My shop made wood turning tools By Al Furtado
Al’s tools are not the prettiest, but they work and you can do exactly what he did. I can testify that the carbide cutters work like a dream and I look forward to making some gouges from old drill bits and cold chisels ….as far as that is concerned ….go down to Harbor Freight and get some of their tools and bits …they are all hardened steel and should work just as Al has show us.
Thanks Al !!!!