10 Best Woodturning Tools (Lathe Chisel Set & Kits) – 2020

best carbide woodturning tool

Image credit: Rockler

We’ve all been there.

When you finally decide that woodturning is your thing,  you have no idea where to begin.

While you don’t have to learn all the fuzzy woodturning jargon out there, you need a decent woodturning tools starter set to get you off the ground.

Whether woodturning is your next hobby or hustle, here are the best woodturning tools set to get in 2020. 

  1. 1
    The Best - Simple Woodturning Beginners Set
  2. 2
    Full size - Simple Woodturning Full Size 
  3. 3
    Best Budget Turning Tools - PSI-Woodworking-LCHSS8
  4. 4
    The Complete Set - Hurricane Turning Tools
  5. 5
    Best For Smaller Projects - Easy Wood Tools
TOP PICK
best woodturning tool kit
1. Simple Woodturning Set
Why it's our top pick:
  • Very sharp cut through the hardest of wood
  • Have minimal to no catch
  • Easy to handle
  • Don’t need resharpening

Comparison Chart: Top 5 Woodturning Tool Sets (Wood Lathe Chisel) 

Woodtruning Tools

Length (Overall)

The Set Includes

Price

2. Simple Woodturning Tools Full Size

17"

Hollower, Neck Hollower, Rougher, Finisher, Detailer 

3. PSI-Woodworking-LCHSS8

Skew Chisel (1, 5/8"),

Bowl Gouge (1/2"), Spindle Gouge (3/4"), Roughing Gouge (7/8"), Scraper & Parting Tool

4. Hurricane Turning Tools

16"

Bowl Gouge (1/2",3/8",5/8"),

Spindle Gouge

(1/2",1/4",3/8"),

Round Nose Scraper

(1",1/2",1-1/2"),

Spindle Roughing Gouge (1",2"),

Parting & Skew Chisel

5. Easy Wood Tools

12.5"

Start Rougher, Finisher & Deatiler

Looking to be an eliete woodturner. Here's some useful tips -


  • Don't want to spend much time sharpening? Get a carbide woodturning tool. Check our review of the best carbide woodturning tools.
  • Pen turning is probably the most suitable project for a beginner woodturner. Check out our article where have rounded up the best pen turning lathe that are most affordable.

The Best Wood Turning Tools (Lathe Chisel, Bowl Gouge & Scraper)

1. Simple Woodturning Beginners Carbide Set - The Best

Simple Woodturning Tools Carbide Wood Lathe Tools Hollower, Rougher, Detailer

The Verdict: The BOSS that calls the shots in the workshop...

Two things that we love about this tool kit are its simplicity and ease of use. It’ll always be in your hand bossing wood around.

Simple Woodturning Tools Carbide Wood Lathe Tools are our top pick as the best woodturning tools kit for beginners. Let’s see what has earned this lathe tool kit this coveted position and other not-so-flattering things about it.

Here’s why:

  • Very sharp
  • Have minimal to no catch
  • Easy to handle
  • Don’t need resharpening
  • Cut through the hardest of wood

This wood turning tool kit includes:

  • Simple Rougher (SR)
  • Simple Turner & Hollower
  • Simple 55° Detailer
  • T15 & T20 Torx star tip wrenches

The Good:

Cuts like a hot knife through butter:

Right off the box, these tools are sharp and take to wood like a hot knife to butter.

This means that you can turn easier, faster, and better on your lathe.

Beginner-friendly:

Remember when we said carbide woodturning tools are the way to go for beginners?

This particular kit proves exactly that. As a novice turner, you can expect a smooth, hitch-free woodturning experience. 

Attractive and easy to handle

If aesthetics is something you want in your woodturning lathe chisels set, then this one is right for you.

Easy on the eye, the Simple Woodturning Tools kit is packaged to resemble some shiny precision surgical tools. 

What’s more, these tools are easy to handle and work with.

Bevel angle: what’s that?

You know that woodturning rule where the bevel has to meet the wood at a certain angle?

Well, forget it if you’re using this lathe tool kit.

The tools work well with no strange positions required, and there’s no catch in the process.

The Bad:

Could do better with more handles:

One thing we didn’t like about this tool was the insufficient handles.

While this tool kit has three tools, there’s only one handle for all of them.

This means when changing blades, you have to stop mid-turning to change the handle. You may opt to purchase extra handles, but we wish each tool came with its own handle.

  • Extraordinarily sharp and cuts through hardwood like a hot knife through butter
  • Simple to use and beginner-friendly
  • Attractive
  • Easy to handle and turn wood with
  • Takes a good edge
  • Comes with only one handle

2. Simple Woodturning Tools - The Premium Lathe Turning Kit

Simple Woodturning Tools Full Size Set of 6 Carbide Tipped Wood Turning Lathe Tools

The Verdict: The big brother with a little extra…

This lathe tool set is also great for novice and professional woodturners alike. With the extra tools, it sure packs quite a punch.

This tool kit is actually a full-size improvement of Simple Woodturning’s first tool kit with some extra tools thrown in there. This one is the best woodturning tools set for professional. However it's a bit expensive. Here you can find the best budget turning tools.

This wood turning tool kit set includes:

  • Swan Neck Hollower
  • Turner and Hollower
  • Rougher
  • Shear Cutting Finisher
  • Detailer (55 & 90 Degree)

The Good:

Here’s why it’s our premium pick:

Extremely Sharp:

Just like its top pick brother, this lathe turning tools are really sharp and ready to use for turning right of the box. You won’t need to sharpen this carbide set.

More robust:

Unlike its brothers above, this tool kit adds three more tools to the collection making it more robust.

Easy to handle:

The tools are full-sized and come with a long enough handle. This gives you enough leverage when turning and makes turning smoother.

Can reach inaccessible hollow vessels:

You can trust the Simple Swan Neck Hollower that comes with this tool kit to reach those hollow parts where other straight shaft tools can’t reach.

The Bad:

Just like the lathe tool set above, this one also comes with only one handle.

You’ll have to change handles between turnings, make new ones, or buy other handles.

  • Simple easy to use
  • Sharp and easily cuts through even the hardest of woods
  • Can access hollow vessels
  • Could do with more handles

3. PSI-Woodworking-LCHSS8 - Best Budget Lathe Chisel Set 

PSI Woodworking LCHSS8 Wood Lathe HSS Chisel Set, 8Piece

The Verdict: Decent but delicate

For beginners who want to get through the steep learning curve affordably, this is a great fit. 


But:


If you’re an aggressive woodturner, or if you rotate your lathe really fast, some of the tools may snap after a few uses.

As a beginner woodturner, you’re probably looking for a good lathe chisels set that doesn’t hurt your wallet. This 8-piece chisel set from PSI Woodworking is your best bet.

This wood turning lathe chisel set includes:

  • 3/16-Inch Parting Tool  
  • 5/8-Inch Spear Scraper  
  • 1-Inch Skew Chisel
  • 5/8-Inch Skew Chisel
  • 5/8-Inch Round nose scraper
  • 1/2-Inch Bowl Gouge
  • 3/4-Inch Spindle Gouge
  • 7/8-Inch Roughing Gouge

The Good:

This lathe chisels set makes it to our list as the best starter pack for turning under a budget and here’s why:

Affordable:

Seriously:

You get eight decent woodturning lathe chisel set at a great price.

Great starter pack:

In woodturning circles, this chisel set is touted as the ultimate woodturning starter packs.

And for a good reason.

Not only do you get a good deal money-wise, but you also get to use all the chisels and take note of the ones you use the most. So, whenever you need an upgrade, you know which specific chisels to go for.

The Bad:

Unlike the carbide lathe turning tools above, the chisels in this kit are not sharp out of the box. Tool sharpening is another skill beginners have to learn, so this may not give you the desired out-of-the-box woodturning experience.

We wish the handles were made of better material. The wooden handles are likely to snap during use.

  • Affordable
  • Good for beginner turners
  • Industry gold-standard
  • Does not hold a good
  • Not sharp and get blunt easily
  • May easily snap

4. Hurricane Turning Tools - The 16 Piece Complete Lathe Chisel Set

Hurricane Turning Tools, Woodturning Complete 16 Piece Set

The Verdict: The blanket lathe chisel set…

This lathe chisel set is a decent one that holds a better edge and is durable. However, you may not need all the tools as a beginner.

This set is a first:

Every Hurricane lathe chisels under one umbrella.

This wood turning lathe chisel set includes:

  • Bowl Gouge from 3/8" Round Bar Stock
  • Bowl Gouge from 1/2" Round Bar Stock
  • Bowl Gouge from 5/8" Round Bar Stock
  • 1/4" Spindle Gouge from 1/4" Bar Stock
  • 3/8" Spindle Gouge from 3/8" Bar Stock
  • 1/2" Spindle Gouge from 1/2" Bar Stock
  • 1" Round Nose Scraper
  • 1/2" Round Nose Scraper
  • 1 1/2" Round Nose Scraper
  • 3/4" Round Nose Scraper
  • 3/4" Square Nose Scraper
  • 3/4" Diamond Parting Tool
  • 1" Skew Chisel
  • 3/4" Oval Skew Chisel
  • 1" Spindle Roughing Gouge
  • 2" Spindle Roughing Gouge

The Good:

Durable:

We’re talking HSS steel here. That’s eight times more durable than carbon steel.

Comfort and leverage:

The chisels have long solid Ash handles of up to 16 inches. This gives you leverage when turning and enhances comfort.

Hold an edge better

You can expect to do significant turning with these chisels as they take an edge better with minimal catches.

The Bad:

Does a beginner need all 16?

Turns out you don’t. Most veterans get by just fine with a handful of essential woodturning tools, and 16 may be a lot.

The chisels are not ready to sharpen out of the package, and you may need to regrind them.

  • Durable
  • Holds edge better
  • A more robust set
  • Too many chisels
  • May need to regrind

5. Easy Wood Tools - Best For Smaller Woodturning Projects

Easy Wood Tools COMBO Wood Turning

The Verdict: Super trio…

This combo is ideal for beginners as the learning curve is significantly reduced. But we think they are a little bit on the pricey side for a 3-piece.

Easy Wood Tools’ carbide combo is also another great option for beginners.

This wood turning tool kit set includes:

Start Rougher, Finisher and Detailer

The Good:

Never sharpen:

Here’s the thing we love about these lathe tools:

You don’t need to sharpen them to use them, and you may not need to sharpen them ever again.

Simplified learning curve:

With this turning tool set, take the tools out of the box, and get to turning.

You don’t need to remember any complex angles, and the project turns out just fine.

The Bad:

Any skeletons?

We were not impressed by the length of the handles. 

The nine inches handles won’t really offer the comfort you need.

  • Doesn’t need sharpening or resharpening
  • Lasts long
  • Beginner-friendly
  • Little leverage to work with due to the short handles

Five Must-Have Woodturning Lathe Chisels:

Before you start turning wood or bowls on a lathe, you need to understand which are the must have woodturning tools and the specific purpose of each tool. 

As a beginner, a good rule of thumb is to get basic woodturning tool s and then add more tools as you work your way up. 

A typical lathe chisel set should have the following:


1. Bowl gouge:

If you’re interested in turning bowls, a bowl-gouge is your go-to tool.​

They come in different sizes, shapes, grinds, and flute shapes, but they all essentially cut and shape wood bowls as they rotate on a lathe. 

Depending on the desired shape and smoothness of the end product, you may need to use different bowl gouges. 

A bowl gouge is often touted as the single most crucial woodturning tool.

And for a good reason. You can turn a bowl from scratch using only a bowl gouge. 


2. Spindle gouge:

Also known as the shallow fluted gouge, the spindle gouge is used to shape spindle work and detailing beads and coves.


3. Spindle roughing gouge:

This handy tool shifts the weight during woodturning, leaving behind a ruff shape but still giving your pieces a decent finish. The spindle roughing gouge also makes smooth cylinders and cuts round wood from square planks.


4. Skew Chisel:

This is a slightly complicated tool and not the most attractive tool you’ll see. It’s associated with minor cuts during woodturning, and most beginner turners stay away from it. 

Yet, it’s one of the most useful woodturning tools once you get the hang of it. The skew chisel is used to cut planes and create very fine details, giving you a great finish you can smile about. 

This tool needs some pretty delicate handling since it’s notorious for giving “catches” that may ruin your woodturning experience.

Whenever you’re using it, remember always to cut using the middle of the blade and put in 100% concentration.

This way, your fingers will be safe, and your project will turn out just fine.


5. Parting tool:

As the name suggests, this tool parts wood during woodturning. It is used to make grooves through a piece of wood and slicing through the wood to achieve smaller parts that are easier to work with.

A good rule of thumb when parting is not to go all the way to the edge of the wood. Just cut off most of the way with a parting tool and let a saw do the rest to avoid ruining your project.


6. Scraper:

Sometimes when you’re done turning your bowls on a lathe, the end product may not look appealing. 

This is where a scraper comes in.

This tool refines the surface by cleaning up wood left by other tools or making some delicate cuts to achieve the desired shape. Whichever way you will use a scraper, remember not to use it to remove heavy wood.


Choosing Your Woodturning Tools Size -

You’re probably wondering:

Does size really matter?

The truth is, it does.

In woodturning, you need to get the size of your tools right if you want to take pride in your final work. When it comes to sizes, most woodturning tools fall into three broad categories: mini tools, mid-sized tools, and full-size tools.

Let’s see what each tool size means to your woodturning project:

The mini tools are your best bet for shallower projects that go up to 2” over the bowl rest.

The mid-sized tools are an excellent fit for projects that go up to 3” over the bowl rest and are ideal for medium-sized bowls.

The full-sized tools, on the other hand, can go up to 4’” over the bowl rest. Full-size tools have extra strength and longer handles to give you enough leverage when turning. These tools are mostly used for large bowls and bigger spindles.

Sometimes, full-sized tools may get in the way of effective turning, so you may need to resort to mid-size or smaller ones.

Bottom line?

Test and optimize the right size of tools for your project size.


Carbide Turning Tools or HSS Tools: Which Is Better?

As a beginner woodturner, I bet you’ve already heard about carbide tools and high-speed steel tools.

And you’re in a dilemma of sorts on which material to go for.

So, which is the best choice for a beginner?

Fret not, because, in this section, we will tell you precisely what each material is good for, which one is better for whom, and for what purposes.

While there are plenty of mixed opinions out there on whether HSS or carbide is the way to go, it all boils down to two vital things:

Ease of use and sharpening.


Ease of use of the lathe chisels -

Can we be honest here?

Okay, here we go:

HSS tools require a bit of expertise to operate. You don’t just grab them off the package and head straight to the lathe. You will need some skills to hold these tools such that the wood and the bevel meet at the correct angle. These skills take time to learn.

Carbide tools, on the other hand, can be used with ease. You don’t have to worry about the bevel angle. All you have to do is bring the tool to the rotating wood on a lathe, hold it parallel to the floor, and get turning.

What makes them this easy to use?

The carbide tools have a scraper for a cutting blade, so all they do is scrape away.

There’s more:

With carbide tools, you can turn wood while the wood is held at a fixed position, as opposed to HSS tools.

With HSS tools, the learning curve is steep and may ruin your woodturning experience.

While carbide tools are easy to use for beginner turners, there’s a downside.

The finished product will have a rougher surface compared to that turned using HSS tools and may require some extra sanding.

So, what’s the point? 

Experienced turners prefer HSS tools since they have developed the expertise to handle them, and the extra sanding after turning is eliminated.


Sharpening the lathe turning tools -

You’ll be surprised that even veteran turners swear by carbide tools because you never have to sharpen them. 

Traditional HSS tools demand a lot of sharpening and resharpening.

Sharpening not only eats into your turning time but also requires skills that take time to acquire.

Not to mention that the sharpening tools and jigs will be an extra financial investment for a beginner start turning wood.

Carbide tools can last up to 100 times longer than HSS tools depending on the quality of the carbide and the intensity of the turning work.

The catch?

The carbide cutters will need to be replaced at an additional cost, but for those turning wood as a hobby, these replacements are only done twice a year.

While it’s true that you can’t get carbide tools as sharp as HSS tools, carbide woodturning tools are actually sharp enough to get the job done efficiently.

In a nutshell, carbide tools are the best for a beginner turner as you can get to work with them right out of the box with little to minimal sharpening required.


Who’s your darling?

We believe the Simple Woodturning Tools Carbide Wood Lathe toolkit is a beginner’s best bet. 

The kit eliminates the woodturning learning curve and may offer a novice turner decent results at first attempt.

In this list, it is the easiest to handle, and the carbide doesn’t need resharpening. With the sharpest blades around, the tools in this tool kit take to wood as a hot knife takes to butter.

We hope this post does the heavy lifting for you and help you choose the right tool kit for you.