View Full Version : Starter tool holder and bit sets

04-25-2006, 03:49 PM
Looking for a starter tool holder set to get me started on a 10" lathe. Nothing fancy or expensive, just home shop use. Also a tool bit set if they make such a thing, or recommendation for what combo of bits to get would be appreciated as well.

Need something that will work in this tool post:

I looked through enco but only found one set, and it seemed geared toward the mini lathes. It also has some measuring tools included which I don't need. Seems like it would be nice to offer sets of tool holder and bits (of the most common used) for those starting from ground zero....

Ok, I know the drill... "what is it you want to make?"....
First order of business is my son wants to make a simple center punch like this one that I made about 100 years ago in high-school machine shop.

Secondly I need to make some spacers and bushings for a couple of suspension pieces on my race car.


04-25-2006, 04:07 PM
I think pre-sharpened sets of lathe toolbits are fairly useless, since you'll need to resharpen them after the first evening of use, anyway. Just get some square toolbit blanks and grind your own. Places like MSC www.mscdirect.com have a vast selection. Get their catalog, if you don't have it -- it's free and weighs about 17 pounds. You can learn a lot just looking through it.

Now, one thing a set of pre-sharpened toolbits can do is show you what the shapes are supposed to be...maybe. It assumes they're ground properly to start with.

04-25-2006, 04:13 PM
Wayne, I bought a Quick Change Toolpost set from Enco for my 10" Logan/Montgomery Ward lathe and it works fine. I think it was on sale when I bought, less than 100 bones. Im selling the lathe but Im keeping the tool holder set. The set I have is Model #505-2253. BTW, I had to machine the plate that goes into the compound slide to fit the t-slot.

04-25-2006, 04:30 PM
Hmm, that would be this one? $89.00

Is there anyway to tell if something like this will fit my lathe without additional machining?

Is it better to buy something like this rather than buy individual tool holders that will work in that existing tool post?


04-25-2006, 09:17 PM
Hmm..I dont know about any other tool holders, Im still a newbie. When I say machine the mounting plate, all I had to do was make it fit my t-slot. It was real simple. I would surmise you could use a grinder and a file if you went slow and easy. I would have if I didnt have a mill/drill, but thats just me. I hope you get it figured out.

04-25-2006, 09:27 PM
I would just get some square tool bits of the size you want to use, 1/4, 5/16, 3/8" sq. or whatever. Then get a copy of How to Run A Lathe, from Lindsay Publications, it will tell you how to grind tool bits and a whole lot more. Cut some sheetmetal shims to shim your new tool bits to center height. After grinding them stone them with a medium and then a fine stone to polish out all grinder marks, the finer finish the better they will work and the longer they will last. Unless you are after maximum production the shape isn't all that critical, if you try to follow the shapes in How to Run a Lathe you will be close enough.

04-26-2006, 03:11 PM
Ok, I ordered the msc catalog, and have been reading the Lindsay book over the last couple days. I understand I will need to learn to sharpen tool bits, but I'm still confused as to the tool post / tool holder issue relative to this lathe.

Is the tool post that is in the above picture intended to hold tool bits by themselves only (as in the picture), or is it intended to hold tool holders as well? I need to get a knurling attachment which I assume will fit in that tool post, as will the regular tool bit holders?

The tool bit that is in that photo is a 1/2". That seems a bit large for a 10" lathe? As you know, tool bits come in a variety of sizes - 1/4, 3/8, 5/16, 1/2 etc. Is there any sort of guidelines to use as to which size of bit to standardize on when starting from scratch? I recognize I may eventually need some smaller or larger sizes, but there has got to be some sort rational for picking a size for the majority of the tool bit inventory?

As to tool bit holders, enco site recommends tool holders that take a 1/4 bit for lathes with 10" swing. The next size up holder takes the 5/16 bit. 1/4 seems awfully small to me?????????

I did find this starter kit at enco which takes 1/4 bits. I don't need the measuring or marking stuff that comes with this kit though.


04-26-2006, 03:32 PM
WAIT, don't go 1/4". In your picture of the tool you had to raise it 1/4" to get it to cut on center? If your serious about tooling this up, research your tool post and get a nice quick change. Don't be to cheap or you won't be satisfied. With the right holder you quickly change out your turning, threading, parting, boring and knurling tools without having to adjust for center each time. When I started we hand ground all of our tools but now a days, carbide insert is the way to go. The advantage of grinding your own is to customize radii and if you are good and know how to grind a good chipbreaker you will get a frer cut with less power. Which means you can take a bigger cut on an older machine where horsepower is a little lower. If you buy toolbits, again, spend a little and go with the Momax or Super Momax. The cobalt content is well worth it in tool life. I have special tools that are over 20 years old and still work well. When sharpening, do NOT burn the bit, keep it cool, light grinding. If you see a major color change you have just lost the hardness. It looks like your current tool post is sized for 3/4 tool bits but that gets pricey. I would stick with the 1/2" bits. You can also get the inserted tooling in 1/2 inch size including threading.

04-26-2006, 03:36 PM
The $89. quick change Enco toop post you listed eairler is the way to go. It will fit your lathe. You may have to machine the nut to fit your t slot but that is easy to do on the lathe if you have a four jaw chuck. Gary P. Hansen

04-26-2006, 04:00 PM
Wayne-- I think there is some (reasonable confusion) about the term "tool holder". You see it used in too many different ways and thus, some of your confusion is reasonable.

Most common uses today refer to a *toolpost set* as the phase II item you found. It comes with a quick change toolpost and "tool holders" that mount to the post. In those tool holders, you can clamp items that do the cutting, or items that hold (usually carbide) inserts that do the cutting. The latter items are also, often called tool holders, perhaps more correctly, "insert tool holders" or "indexable tool holders". Just as easily as a tool post could hold one of these carbide-insert tool holders, it could hold a tool bit like you show in your initial picture. In that case, a carbide cutter is brazed to a not-so-hard tool bit.

Also commonly, (mostly with home shop types like us, nowdays) are complete bits that are made of high-speed steel (HSS) Those bits can be ground to shape and clamped directly into a quick-change tool hoder like the PhaseII, without the benefit of any of this stuff: http://www.use-enco.com/CGI/INSRIT?P...&PARTPG=INSRHI

By doing it this way, you can use HSS tool bits that are larger than the 1/4" size, within the limits of being able to adjust it on center. These larger HSS bits will be stronger and more rigid than a bit, in a holder, in a QC holder. In short, don't waste your money on the item above.

You could perhaps even use 3/8 HSS tool bits in the tool post you have. The reason folks recommend the QC tool posts is not just for the tool changing abilty, but for the ease of adjustment to get on center (no shimming) by just adjusting a stop nut on each individual tool holder.

good luck

Tin Falcon
04-26-2006, 04:46 PM
Hope we are not confusing you with TMI. What you are showing in your photo is your tool post. What is being suggested by many is a quick change tool post set. The parts that hold the tool bit are clamped onto the tool post with a dovetail and plunger or dovetale and wedge design. The wedge design is better but more expensive. The advantage of the qc toolpost is that you can change from one tool to another quicly also it is easy to set tool height.
what you need is an asortment of tool bits. Mcmaster car sells pre ground bits but it is realy better to learn to grind your own.

04-27-2006, 02:38 AM
I bought a AXA size wedge type quick change tool post and it is quicker, and I truly appreciate the cutoff and boring holder. But I found my block type tool post, much like the one you have, is more rigid and in some cases can help me get better results slower (rather than getting bad results quick!!). You've got a relatively small base with a lever hanging off to the side of it...some set ups can can get a bit loose.

I don't think 1/2" bits are too big for a ten inch lathe and it gives you some more grinding options including parting and grooving forms...I guess basically what I'm saying is that the quick change is a good addition if you have the cash but the four position tool block can be pretty versatile, with a little foresight (pre-shimmed tools, and a consistent grind) can be pretty quick, and in some cases may be the more proper tool.

I'd just invest in some 1/2" and 3/8" HSS stock and a grinder for now...

04-27-2006, 10:49 PM
You've gotten some good advice so far, I'd just add that the gizmos holding tool bits on the Enco link are really more appropriate for the older lantern-style toolposts (as seen on many older South Bend, Atlas, etc. lathes). I don't really see much use for them if you already have a block type toolpost, which you do.

I have a QC also and it's wonderful, but as abn pointed out your type is more rigid. (that may be less true for a high-dollar QC, but it sure is for my Harbor Freight model.) If you can afford the QC, get it, and use 1/4 toolbits (quicker to grind to shape). If not, measure the distance from centerline to the bottom of your existing toolpost and pick the toolbit that is closest (but not bigger).

Good luck, and have fun making chips!


04-27-2006, 11:43 PM
Ok, so I can clamp tool bits for turning into the existing block type tool post.

But what about knurling, boring, and cut-off? Do you clamp the knurling and boring tool directly into the block tool post? Is there a specific type of knurling/boring tool that is designed for use by this type of post?


04-28-2006, 03:05 AM
The QC works like this. The tool post holder mounts to the cross slide on the compound. Easy to align or offset. One nut tightens it in place. The lever holds the tool bit holder. To make a bushing would be something like this; Align tool holder post to chuck and tighten. Insert work piece in chuck. Insert tool holder onto tool holder post with right or left hand turning bit in it, set height and lock height of bit in tool holder, turn lever to lock holder to post. Now that turning bit and holder are good to go any time. Turn work piece. Turn lever and that tool holder is removed. Insert boring bar in tool holder which will be already aligned with chuck as there are two stations on the holder 90 degrees apart. Set height and now it's also good to go. Bore center. Turn lever and remove tool holder. Install parting off holder with bit. Again the holder never got out of square. Adjust height on parting off bit in another holder and it's set too. Turn lever and it's locked. Part off work piece. All tool bit holders are set in height and at the turn of a lever are ready to use. Easy, fast and ridged on a 9" south bend. Cost is a little more but for me well worth it. Hope that helps some. How you grind your bits is a whole differant topic.

04-28-2006, 05:30 AM
Ok, so I can clamp tool bits for turning into the existing block type tool post.

But what about knurling, boring, and cut-off? Do you clamp the knurling and boring tool directly into the block tool post? Is there a specific type of knurling/boring tool that is designed for use by this type of post?

All operations can be done with the existing block type tool post. You will have to use shims to get the tool to the proper height for cutting with this type of tool post.

One way of achieving this is to put a dead center in your tailstock. Align the height of the tool you wish to use to the same height as the tip of the dead center. Like this:

More info: http://www.technologystudent.com/equip1/mlathe6.htm

Another method would be to use a steel rule or piece of flat shim stock between the part and the tip of the tool while shimming under the tool until it is held vertically between the two.
http://www.homemetalshopclub.org/news/jun97/toolhgt.gif (http://www.homemetalshopclub.org/news/jun97/toolhgt.gif)

It is more tedious than it needs to be, hence the popularity of quick change tool posts.

What a Quick Change Tool Post (QCTP) does for you is allow you to change tools quickly without having to set the tool height each time. You set the tool height the first time you use each tool and never have to worry about setting it again until the tool is removed from the tool holder.

Watch the "Lathe Video" at this link for a better understanding:


Here are a couple more links to some basic lathe information:



04-28-2006, 07:11 PM

The block type holder that you have is a good holder. You can use smaller bits than the 3/4" more easily by making up a shim out of cold roll steel to bring the smaller bit's cutting edge up to the center height. We made a set of these shims for each indexible tool holder in the shop. The shims are just rectangular bars with a ledge milled deep enough to bring the top of the tool to center when placed in the holder. It is milled far enough into the bar to center the tool bit under the screws that tighten it in the holder. This way you don't have to machine the base of the tool holder.

The QC posts have dedicated tool holders for cutoff, boring, and knurling. This is really handy because they are far more ridgid than the rocker type tool post that usually comes with the lathe.

Grinding your own tools from blanks is the most versatile way to go. You will find that you end up with a dozen specialized tools that you will use for the rest of your life. You will resharpen them many times before you have to remake them. I have some that I have used for 30 years on an almost daily basis. Some shapes are more useful than others. After some trial and error you will get good at it. The advantage of these hand ground bits is that you can make changes to the breast angle (top relief), face angle, and end relief as the work dictates.

As was said before, don't overheat the bits while grinding. Keep your finger behind the blank and when it heats up to uncomfortable range (long before it turns colors) just set it on a large steel object, like your bandsaw table or lathe apron, and wait a few minutes. You can quench the HSS blanks in water if you don't overheat them and it will not hurt their performance any.

good luck, have fun!

Jim (KB4IVH)

04-29-2006, 05:40 AM
There was someone here that doesn't believe in the scale/tilt method, wasn't there?

But any way this dead horse has been beaten already.and with this new forum the archives are easier than ever to find old stuff,I have done so many times recently, I am sure Evan appreciates that. ;)

04-29-2006, 05:45 AM
Naw....surely not!

04-29-2006, 08:03 AM
Hello Wayne is that a Hendey Norton lathe can you show complete lathe pics

Tin Falcon
04-29-2006, 11:59 AM
Boring holder: you say the tool post will take a 3/4 in tool bit. Make a boring bar holder. Put a piece of 3/4 square stock a little shorter than the tool post(Brass ,Alum Mild steel ) in your tool block then put drill bits in the lathe chuck and drill out to the desired size say 3/8 then slit the side with hack saw. You now have a boring bar holder. mark the top side this will give the propper height for your boring bar.
Yes you will need a knurning holder there are several options Pivot head enco#250-1730 $ 15. or if you have the bucks go with the scissors style enco 505-4518 $ 73. These put a lot less strain on the lathe spindle . Or you can make one like this http://www.littlemachineshop.com/Projects/knurler.php
or buy a similar one for $30. The last three are all scissor types http://www.littlemachineshop.com/products/product_view.php?ProductID=1730

Also you may want to buy or make a parting tool holder. It is easer than grinding them from regular tool bits. Somthing like this http://www.littlemachineshop.com/products/product_view.php?ProductID=1551

No afilliation with thes companies normal disclaimers. I have dealt with both with good results.
Regards Tin

04-29-2006, 01:20 PM
Hello Wayne is that a Hendey Norton lathe can you show complete lathe pics
No Hendey, just a little Sheldon.

04-29-2006, 01:44 PM
Nice clean lines, very tidy mines always covered in sh oops sorry, swarf. Same color as a Hendey