Tools

Top 4 Best Lathe Chisels for Wood Turning

Last updated on May 2nd, 2021

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When you’re standing in front of a piece of wood spinning at up to 5,000rpm, the dangerous thing to do is to touch it with a blunt or non-specialist chisel. We bring you a review of the best lathe chisels for wood turning. These are chisels especially designed to safely remove bits of wood and to shape the spinning wood however you direct. Of course, you’ll support the chisel on the tool rest for the best control. In case you’re not sure which specific chisel you need, or you’re starting out, or you just want to experiment, all the lathe chisels we review here are sets of tools.

In our Best Lathe Chisels for Wood Turning review, we present our recommended models by listing their pros and cons and discussing their features. We give a short recommendation for that particular model. As far as wood turning chisels are concerned, they’re very similar. Your decision may come down to the brand you prefer and the range of chisels the set contains. That’s why our Buyer’s Guide is very short this time, covering just the basics of what to look for.

Our Best Pick Overall is the Robert Sorby 67HS – 6 Piece Woodturning Chisel Set. This quality chisel set, from a renowned tool brand, has six of the most frequently used chisels for wood turners.

We also have a Best Pick for Wood Turning Chisels for Beginners – the Faithfull WCTSET8B HSS Turning Chisel Wooden Boxed Set (8 Pieces). This is a more affordable set than Our Best Pick Overall, with a wide selection of chisels to set up a beginner’s wood turning workshop.

Best Lathe Chisels for Wood Turning

Robert Sorby 67HS - 6 Piece Woodturning Chisel Set
The Robert Sorby 67HS - 6 Piece Woodturning Chisel Set is a quality set for those who are serious about the piece of wood turning in their lives. These chisels are made in Sheffield, England so are UK made, with handles of hand-turned ash. Along with the brass ferrules and high speed steel, the chisels are durable and balanced tools for your wood working projects. The chisels you receive are: 19mm Spindle roughing gouge; 10mm Spindle gouge; 10mm Bowl gouge; 19mm Standard skew chisel, 3mm Parting tool and a 12.7mm Round scraper.

Best Lathe Chisels for Wood Turning for Beginners

Faithfull WCTSET8B HSS Turning Chisel Wooden Boxed Set (8 Pieces)
The Faithfull WCTSET8B HSS Turning Chisel Wooden Boxed Set has two more chisels than any other set in our review, and also comes in a handy wooden storage box. The chisel handles are made of walnut instead of the usual ash and are contoured for comfortable use. The blades are the usual high speed steel, tempered for sharpness and durability. This is the least expensive set in our review and reviews say that the chisels don’t have the quality of the more expensive chisel sets. However, its price and a wider selection of blades make this set ideal for first-time wood turners who are setting up a workshop and for those who aren’t quite sure if this is going to be a long-term hobby for them.

Top 4 Best Lathe Chisels for Wood Turning Reviews

1. Robert Sorby 67HS – 6 Piece Woodturning Chisel Set

BEST PICK

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Robert Sorby 67HS - 6 Piece Woodturning Chisel Set

Robert Sorby 67HS – 6 Piece Woodturning Chisel Set is from a favourite manufacturer of wood artisans. While the box that the chisels come in does have a place for each tool, it’s made of strong cardboard and not wood which is a little disappointing but not a deal-breaker, however, it does have the brand logo on it.

Sorby chisels are made in Sheffield, England which means they are quality UK made tools. The hand-finished handles of the six chisels are of ash wood, a favourite choice among tool makers, and are turned carefully to give you a  comfortable hold. The brass ferrules are highly polished and long-lasting too. The blades are constructed from High Speed Steel that’s tempered and hardened to meet Sorby’s own high requirements. 

The choice of the six included chisels allows you to turn both spindles and bowls on your lathe. Each one lets you apply even pressure to the wood that prevents it from splitting from you being too hard with it.

Pros

  • Six-piece chisel set comes in a cardboard box with a place for each chisel.
  • Full-size hand-finished handles of ash wood with polished brass ferrules for longevity and a professional look. 
  • High Speed Steel blades are made to the manufacturer’s own standards for excellent control and quality.
  • Included chisels:
    • 19mm Spindle roughing gouge 
    • 10mm Spindle gouge
    •  10mm Bowl gouge
    • 19mm Standard skew chisel
    • 3mm   Parting tool 
    • 12.7mm Round scraper 
  • Dimensions: Overall length:  43cm to 53cm

Cons

  • Not in a wooden storage box. 

Our recommendation

Robert Sorby 67HS – 6 Piece Woodturning Chisel Set provides a wide selection of hand-turned chisels for working with both spindles and bowls. The HSS blades are made to the brand’s own high standards to give you fine control over how you apply them to your wood.

Even though these Robert Sorby chisels are the most expensive in our review, we consider them a worthwhile investment and have chosen them as the best lathe Chisel set for wood turning for those looking for premium high-quality tools.

Read next: Best lathes for wood working for beginners and the more experienced.


2. Faithfull WCTSET8B HSS Turning Chisel Wooden Boxed Set (8 Pieces)

Best Lathe Chisels for Beginners

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Faithfull WCTSET8B HSS Turning Chisel Wooden Boxed Set (8 Pieces)

The Faithfull WCTSET8B HSS Turning Chisel Wooden Boxed Set is just as it says. The wood box holds the chisels perfectly as a storage container as long as you remember to return the chisels to it faithfully. Plus it adds an air of professionalism to your workbench but at a more affordable price making it ideal for those just starting out or on more of a budget.

The walnut handles of the chisels are contoured for comfortable use and the chisels are all the same length. In this way you don’t have to keep adapting how you hold or use the tool to its length – the blades are all the same length too. And the blades are made of High Speed Steel which stays sharp for six times longer than carbon steel. It also doesn’t acquire that “blue” colour that steel usually does from continued grinding.

You receive a wide selection of blades in this set but some online reviewers remark that the blades need to be sharpened before you use them the first time. This is the least expensive wood lathe chisel set in our review so don’t expect the same quality as some of the professional tools such as our best pick, however, they still do and excellent job. 

Pros

  • Eight wood turning chisels presented in a wooden box so you can return each of them to its proper place and always know where to find them.
  • HSS stamped in each blade indicates the quality of the steel used in its construction.
  • Works well for both hard and softwoods so suits all wood turning projects.
  • Full-size contoured walnut handles, along with brass ferrules, make them ergonomic to use so your hands will be comfortable.
  • Chisels:
    • 15mm Diamond Point Scraper
    • 15mm Plain Skew Chisel
    • 25mm Plain Skew Chisel
    • 15mm Parting Tool
    • 15mm Round Nose Scraper
    • 8mm Roughing Out Chisel
    • 16mm Roughing Out Chisel
    • 20mm Roughing Out Chisel
  • Dimensions:
    • Overall length: 42cm
    • Blade length:   16cm

Cons

  • May need sharpening before use.

Our recommendation

The Faithfull WCTSET8B HSS Turning Chisel Wooden Boxed Set (8 Pieces) comprises an affordable basic set of wood lathe chisels for a beginner or someone who wants to experiment beyond the first three lathe chisels that they bought. 

This is our Best Pick of Lathe Chisels for Wood Turning for Beginners or those on a budget and we think for the price, they offer excellent value for money and are great for those just starting out.


3. Draper 58697 HSS Woodturning Chisel 6 Piece Set

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Draper 58697 HSS Woodturning Chisel 6 Piece Set

The Draper 58697 HSS Woodturning Chisel 6 Piece Set comes in a wooden box in which you can line up the chisels according to their different lengths. While all but one of the blades of these chisels are the same length, their handle length varies according to the amount of control that you need for the particular task of that chisel.

The ash wood handles are full size and, as with all the best lathe chisels, have been turned to ensure that they give you the correct balance to wield the blade as you need to. The High Speed steel blades are hardened to give the sharp edge you need to shape the wood.

The manufacturer advertises that the brass ferrules have extra-long tangs (prongs) that are embedded a ways into the handle to keep the blade securely in place and stop it from moving around. Even a slight re-positioning of the blade can through off your chiselling designs significantly, especially if you’re working small as in wood pens.

Pros

  • Six wood turning chisels come in a wood case designed to hold the different lengths of each tool safely and securely.
  • HSS blades are buried deep into the full-size ash handles with extra-long prongs for full “holding on” security.
  • Turning chisel selection is especially suited for those who turn wood pens.
  • Chisels:
    • 12.7mm Bowl gouge 
    • 25mm Roughing gouge 
    • 25mm Oval skew
    • 5.5mm Parting tool 
    • 25mm  Round-nose scraper 
    • 10mm  Spindle gouge 

Our recommendation

The Draper 58697 HSS Woodturning Chisel 6 Piece Set sits in its wooden box display the wide range of chiselling choices you have. The handles are different lengths to the best blade control. And the blades are held on to them extra-securely through the use of extra-long tangs through the brass ferrules. We recommend these chisels for those who turn wood pens which is a good way to get into wood turning as its very forgiving, the pieces are small so you’re able to practice your techniques.

If you work involves quite intricate shapes and designs, take a look at this wood lathe chisel set.


4. Carbide Tipped Woodturning Chisel Set (6 Chisels)

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Carbide Tipped Woodturning Chisel Set (6 Chisels)

The Carbide Tipped Woodturning Chisel Set stands out among our other wood lathe chisel reviews for its distinctive cutting method. Cutting with carbide tips gives a smoother finish to the wood and is less technique-driven than with steel blades.

We’re not sure if the six carbide tip wood turning chisels in this set come in a protective wood storage box. We hope so as these tools are extremely sharp. Let us repeat that: they’re very sharp so be careful and don’t leave them lying around for kids to pick up.

That said, the sharpness of these chisels are why they’re so popular. The tips stay sharp for a long time and you don’t need to push them harshly against the wood, even hard wood but they do take a little practice to use. In fact, doing so can leave gouges – well-defined gouges, but eyesores all the same. Carbide tips give accurate cuts, from delicate work to roughing out shapes. Some online reviewers say that it takes some time to learn how to use these chisels, but it’s worth the investment of effort to do so.

Pros

  • Six wood turning chisels have stainless steel shafts, ash handles and carbide tips.
  • Extremely sharp carbide tips for accurate cuts but be very careful.
  • Ash handles are turned in a comfortable shape for the best gripping position.
  • Chisels:
    • 1 Round Tipped Chisel
      2 Square Tipped Chisels (1 Rounded, 1 Flat Edge)
      1 Diamond Tipped Chisel
      1 Bend Chisel for interior work
      1 Bull Nose Heavy Duty Chisel
  • Dimensions:
    • Tips from 15 to 200 mm

Cons

  • Learning curve.
  • Extremely sharp.

Our recommendation

The Carbide Tipped Woodturning Chisel Set give you an alternate way for working the wood on your lathe. The extremely sharp carbide tips give accurate cuts, whether you’re roughing in a shape or adding the fine details. But you don’t have to sharpen these tips as frequently as you do steel blades.

If steel blades don’t work for you or your wood turning skill is increasing, try out these carbide tip lathe chisels as they will be worth the extra investment but they do take a little extra time to master.


Buyer’s Guide

Most lathe chisels for wood turning are constructed the same way, except for the Carbide Tipped Woodturning Chisel Set in our review (but we’ll come to that). This is a very short Buyer’s Guide that covers the basic features of a lathe chisel.

Handle

Ash is the most popular wood used for the handle of a lathe chisel, though the Faithfull WCTSET8B HSS Turning Chisel in our review has a walnut handle which perhaps helps make them a little more affordable.

All handles are wood turned (some by hand) to give a shape that has a comfortable and balanced grip, this is only right for a tool that is used for wood turning after all. Some handles are full size while others are shortened. There seem to be mixed opinions from users and experts whether short handles give the best control over certain kinds of chisel blades, especially those for delicate detailed work so it’s more personal choice.

Blade

You have a choice of cutting method with a wood turning lathe chisel: a blade of high speed steel (HSS) or a carbide tip.

An HSS blade fits into a ferrule usually made of brass which, in turn, fits onto the chisel handle. Tangs, or prongs, from the ferrule, are embedded down into the handle to secure the blade on to the unit. It also prevents the handle from splitting when the blade is inserted. HSS cuts faster than high carbon steel and will keep its sharpness about six times longer as it’s more resistant to abrasion. As such, it needs less frequent sharpening. Check that HSS is stamped on the blade to ensure that it’s the real thing.

Carbide is a mixture of carbon with a metal or a metal oxide. Carbide tip chisels are extremely sharp and can completely replace your steel blade chisels. The tips are very small in comparison to a steel blade. The carbide tips are ground to specific shapes and sizes to perform a variety of wood turning tasks. In the Carbide Tipped Woodturning Chisel Set in our review, the tip is mounted in a stainless steel shaft which, in turn, is set in a stainless steel ferrule in the wood handle.

Selection of Chisels

Sets of chisels do have some overlap of the types of chisels that they include. Here are some of the most frequently used lathe chisels.

Spindle roughing gouge 

A workhorse chisel that’s used to create a rough shape; turns a square spindle to a rough round shape. A fairly wide blade.

Spindle gouge 

A lathe chisel for detailed work; use to make beading and coves on spindles. Straightforward to use.

Skew chisel

Useful for planing wood and sanding isn’t usually additionally needed; can create very fine details. The learning curve is involved and you really need to pay attention when you’re using it.

Parting tool 

This parts wood and is also useful for detailing. You may want to partially part the wood and finish off with a saw (with the lathe turned off)..

Bowl gouge

Made to shape bowls and can work with the hardest wood you use. Has a deeper channel than the spindle gouge does.

Scraper

Useful on bowls and plates to change the surface, including the shape or dimension or to clean it up. This chisel is not intended to remove a great deal of wood.

Keep in mind that all of these types of lathe chisel come in a wide range of sizes. The set you buy may have multiples of one type of chisel but in different sizes. If you plan on working very large or very small, the size of the chisel becomes important.


Final Conclusion

Wood turning is an exciting hobby or profession and more than an excuse to try out many new tools. Buying a lathe is just the start of it – you need specialist wood working tools as your normal ones, e.g. chisels, just can’t stand up to the forces generated by spinning wood. And it’s just plain dangerous to use them. 

As in the 2D wood crafting world, each shape of specialist wood turning chisel blade has a different purpose and creates a different effect. While you can always buy individual chisels to add to your collection, we cover the best sets that give you a broad range of the most popular chisels with which to start out. These are the chisels that you’ll probably turn to time most of the time.

Our Best Lathe Chisel Set is the Robert Sorby 67HS – 6 Piece Woodturning Chisel Set. This chisel set is from a quality tool maker and hits all the top-of-the-line features but are slightly more expensive.

If you’re starting out and prefer a more affordable set, we recommend the Faithfull WCTSET8B HSS Turning Chisel Wooden Boxed Set (8 Pieces). This gives you two more chisels than other sets, which may just turn out to be your favourites. They are more affordable and a great starting point when learning the craft.

Whatever lathe chisel you choose for wood turning you choose, remember that you’re approaching a fast-spinning lump of wood with a sharp object in your hand and take more than the necessary safety measures.


Last update on 2021-10-16 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Welcome to my site, my name is John and I have been lucky enough to work in horticultural nurseries for over 15 years in the UK. As the founder and editor as well as researcher, I have a City & Guilds Horticultural Qualifications which I proudly display on our About us page. I now work full time on this website where I review the very best gardening products and tools and write reliable gardening guides. Behind this site is an actual real person who has worked and has experience with the types of products we review as well as years of knowledge on the topics we cover from actual experience. You can reach out to me at john@pyracantha.co.uk

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