Turning Tools Information

Turning toolsTurning tools are used on lathes for cutting or finishing the outside diameter of a workpiece. Turning tools can be used to produce cylindrical parts. In its basic form, turning can be defined as the machining of an external surface with the workpiece rotating, or with a single-point cutting tool.

Types of Turning Tools

There are several types of turning tools. Examples include wood turning tools and a lathe cutting tool. Wood turning tools are used for woodturning and are used to meet the needs of a wood turner. A wood turning tool can be of various types such as:

  • spindle gouge
  • roughing gouge
  • oval skew chisel
  • round nose scraper
  • parting tool
  • hollowing tool
  • bowl gouge

A lathe cutting tool is held by a tool holder. A tool holder is secured to a tool post using a quick release lever. In order to move a lathe cutting tool, the lathe saddle and cross slide can be moved by hand. Other turning tools are commonly available.


Turning tools are generally made from steel, carbon steel, high speed steel, and powdered metal. To use turning tools for a turning operation, three primary factors need to be considered: speed, feed, and depth of cut. Other factors, such as material and type of tool, also have a large influence.

  • Speed refers to the spindle and the workpiece.
  • Feed refers to the cutting tool, and it is the rate at which the tool advances along its cutting path.
  • Depth of cut is the thickness of the layer being removed from the workpiece or the distance from the uncut surface of the work to the cut surface.


Wood turning tools are designed to combat the torque problem commonly found when using simple, bent tools to hollow vessels on a lathe. The best lathe cutting tool is made from high speed steel. When a lathe cutting tool removes metal, it applies considerable tangential force to the workpiece. To safely perform a facing operation with a lathe cutting tool, the end of the workpiece must be as close as possible to the jaws of a chuck. In machining hard work materials, the back rake angle must be small, even negative for carbide and diamond tools. For high-speed steels, a back rake angle is normally chosen in the positive range. The range of turning tools includes boring bars, which can be used for internal shouldering, grooving, and profiling for producing complex profiles in one continuous cycle. Boring is generally used for the enlarging of an existing hole. For turning tool sharpening, a power sharpening system or a hand sharpening system can be used. Turning tools can also be hand-made and can be used for ease of use and productivity. Turning tools are designed and manufactured to meet most industry specifications.


Turning tools can be used in various applications. For example the roughing gouge tool is designed to remove material quickly. Spindle gouges are useful in finishing a surface or to clean up hollows and similar spots where skews won't work. Turning tools are used to create furniture, bowls, platters and serving trays, pens, and a number of other items.

Related Information

CR4 Community—Turning Wood in a Metalwork Lathe

CR4 Community—Unknown Tool

CR4 Community—Why Would You Want a Lathe to Run Backwards?

Image credit:

Jordanhill School D&T Dept / CC BY-SA 2.0


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