Project: DIY Miniature Woodturning Tools

I made a couple of small (~1/4″ diameter/ 6mm) woodturning tools using some M2 High Speed Steel for just a few dollars each. I made some handles and ground them into 1) a skew chisel, and 2) a detail tool (flute-less gouge?). These tools are quite useful for working on smaller pieces.

Making your own tools is a great way to make woodturning even more affordable!

High Speed Steel is a great material for woodturning because it can handle being heated without losing strength. This makes it easy to grind with a bench grinder. It also holds a sharp edge well.

There are different grades of High Speed Steel, and the type that is most common and affordable is M2. Most of the budget HSS woodturning tools are a form of this. M2 represents a set of ranges of different elements in the alloy, so there may be small differences between different batches or brands. But overall, M2 steels are all very similar.

There are also Cobalt HSS and you can find tools made from them as well. Generally, they will be M35 or M42. They are harder and will hold an edge longer than M2. They’re also a lot more expensive.

I suggest that beginning woodturners start with M2 and learn how to turn and sharpen it for a while before spending the money on Cobalt steels.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Wade

    Hey Barry,

    Do you happen to have a link for the 6mm x 200mm M2 HSS round blanks you used for your micro point and skew chisel tools. I’m sure it’s right in front of me on Amazon but I can’t seem to find it. Could you email me a link if you have one? I just subscribed to your YouTube channel. Very informative and well made videos. Thanks for your time and effort. Have a great day! Wade

  2. Barry

    Thanks for the comment. I ordered it from Amazon. They aren’t very clear about the type of material, but in the details it does say “High Speed Steel”, and M2 is the most common type. Also, the pieces I got were labeled ‘SKH9’, which is equivalent to M2.

    Here’s a link to the one I ordered. Be sure to look at the list of sellers, because there are two different prices.
    https://www.amazon.com/uxcell-Metal-200mm-Machine-Turning/dp/B01DBZSW8M/

    And if your curious, here is a link to a site that lists equivalent steels:
    http://www.steel-grades.com/Equivalent-Grade/High-speed-tool-steel.html

    Also, thanks for subscribing!

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