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What inserts do you like and why?

Susquatch

Ultra Member
Moderator
Premium Member
There are a lot of very knowledgeable people on here. A good thread on this topic would be appreciated. My eyes start glazing over when I read the insert company info pdfs and let's face it - they are biased to promote and sell their own products. I'd personally like to see something really simple. Something that members can contribute to in as much detail as they like. Everyone has their favorites, what are yours? What inserts do you reach for 90% of the time and how do you run them?

A good healthy debate on least costly, most available, best chip breaking, nicest cut, durability, etc. Of course, that should go hand in hand with a discussion of insert holders.

I'm deliberately trying to avoid a list of manufacturers or links to their documents. These documents are great references but they are way too detailed, too much info, each one is different, and they often don't agree with each other. What I'm looking for in this thread is the kind of info your grandfather would give you about girls or tractors.

I'm totally making this up but something like......

For mild steel Hexigon inserts are everywhere and they are very cost effective because...... They work best in these kinds of circumstances, and try to get some with this coating for plain steel, this for aluminium, this for cast iron, this for harder steels. Run em about sfm and this feet rate and this depth of cut and they will make you happy. You can get the holder at McDonald's for $x and they carry inserts at Burger King at 2 bucks each in a box of 10 or you can get them here on Aziton (link posted here)

For Aluminium I like.....

For Cast Iron I like....

What I'm thinking about here is something along the line of a member's favs for newbies and pros alike. Its a common question for new machinists. And even for the old hands, It's always good to see what others like and why. It's also good to see why other members might disagree and why. But mostly for beginners it's nice to get advice from experienced members instead of from the salesman at Busybee or Accusize.

How many folks on here got sucked into buying a kit that came with a half dozen holders and inserts but now they can't get more inserts for and they never did use more than half the holders?

So ya, what are your own favorites and why?
 

Tom O

Ultra Member
I usually use mystery metal so if it cuts good I’m happy but for a known tougher metal I’ll take a cutter into ACT and tell them this is what I’m using and cutting.
 

David_R8

Scrapper of metal
Moderator
Premium Member

Brent H

Ultra Member
@Susquatch: here is what I have to offer....

LATHE SPECIFIC: Inserts or indexable tools .....well, I only really have boring bars and threading tools with "carbide inserts". Why? ... cost and dedicated purpose. For threading I have inserts for ACME and one single point holder (60*) but I typically use HSS and will usually grind a profile into HSS if required. For "typical" left, right, straight tooling I use the carbide brazed to the holder:
lathe tools.png

These are easy to sharpen (diamond wheel for the carbide and under cut with regular stone) and last a long time, easy to profile and are reasonable cost compared to buying inserts.

For the inserts used on the indexable tooling I will just get the cheapest on Amazon - if you search you can find quality ones (Iscar or ?) for reasonable and off you go.

Speed and feed will get a decent finish and keep parts reasonable.

@David_R8 : that book is like $150 - that is all the insert I might ever need ....LOL:D

Seriously for the "new lathe owner" - High speed steel- learn to sharpen, stone, hone and practice cuts. kinda the same as welding - learn gas, TIG, Stick then MIG....

At this point in time I don't own any indexable insert tooling (other than boring bars and threading) for my lathes.....(sigh)........perhaps that is too much information..
 

SomeGuy

Hobbyist
As it stands, whatever I come across that is the right style tool for the job...I haven't gotten to the point of picking certain geometries.
 

David_R8

Scrapper of metal
Moderator
Premium Member
@Susquatch:

@David_R8 : that book is like $150 - that is all the insert I might ever need ....LOL:D

Seriously for the "new lathe owner" - High speed steel- learn to sharpen, stone, hone and practice cuts. kinda the same as welding - learn gas, TIG, Stick then MIG....

At this point in time I don't own any indexable insert tooling (other than boring bars and threading) for my lathes.....(sigh)........perhaps that is too much information..
Jeepers, when I bought it was only $50 CDN!
+1 to what Brent said about HSS.
With a sharp tool I can peel off .10" cuts on my South Bend 10K. No .10" is not a typo.
 
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Degen

Ultra Member
Premium Member
I use mostly inserts now and carbide on end mills, I try and choose what manufacturers recommend for the materials they are intended for as it achieves the best results. If in doubt I use something designed for the toughest materials as the inserts and carbide last. The drawback is surface finish sometimes is not the best.

Brazed carbide I have used but the disadvantage is you need diamond tooling and setup to sharpen them. I no longer have any.

HSS I still use in both endmills and lathe tooling. With mills I have a fair amount but requires certain expensive stones to sharpen correctly. With lathe tooling it give me flexibility to grind one of cutting tools for one of cuts when it is needed. Sometimes HSS is the most forgiving cutter in terms of usage and application on the lathe.
 

darrin1200

Darrin
I'm also a member of Hobby Machinist and a member there wrote what I think is one of the best collections of insert information on the market.

Introduction to Indexable Tooling for the Metal Lathe: A User Guide

Jeepers, when I bought it was only $50 CDN!
+1 to what Brent said about HSS.
With a sharp tool I can peel off .10" cuts on my South Bend 10K. No .10" is not a typo.
There is another paperback version available on a,a on for $75, but I don’t know what the difference is.
There is also a kindle version for $10.
 

Susquatch

Ultra Member
Moderator
Premium Member
@Susquatch: here is what I have to offer....

LATHE SPECIFIC: Inserts or indexable tools .....well, I only really have boring bars and threading tools with "carbide inserts". Why? ... cost and dedicated purpose. For threading I have inserts for ACME and one single point holder (60*) but I typically use HSS and will usually grind a profile into HSS if required. For "typical" left, right, straight tooling I use the carbide brazed to the holder:
View attachment 24694

These are easy to sharpen (diamond wheel for the carbide and under cut with regular stone) and last a long time, easy to profile and are reasonable cost compared to buying inserts.

For the inserts used on the indexable tooling I will just get the cheapest on Amazon - if you search you can find quality ones (Iscar or ?) for reasonable and off you go.

Speed and feed will get a decent finish and keep parts reasonable.

@David_R8 : that book is like $150 - that is all the insert I might ever need ....LOL:D

Seriously for the "new lathe owner" - High speed steel- learn to sharpen, stone, hone and practice cuts. kinda the same as welding - learn gas, TIG, Stick then MIG....

At this point in time I don't own any indexable insert tooling (other than boring bars and threading) for my lathes.....(sigh)........perhaps that is too much information..

I loved this Brent. Whether you know it or not, I think you are highly respected by the members of this forum. Certainly by me.

Your advice about first learning to use High Speed Steel is early in this thread and therefore likely to be seen by a newbie asking for info. Same goes for your advice about carbide.

My first lathe had a lantern style tool post so HSS was really my only choice at the time. When I got my second newer lathe, the first thing I did was to get a carbide kit to go with it. Both the brazed style and the insert style. Both were dismal disappointments so I ran as fast as I could back to the comfort, safety, and satisfaction of HSS. As time passed, I slowly ventured back into the world of inserts and have been mostly happy. Mostly they are just sooooo convenient. But when the going is tough, or the job is critical, or the cutter shape is non-standard, I still reach for HSS. It never disappoints.
 

Susquatch

Ultra Member
Moderator
Premium Member
I am happy to see how many members like and advocate HSS!

Just saying that out loud, should bring the insert advocates out into the open, and chase the rest of us back into hiding! :D
 

Susquatch

Ultra Member
Moderator
Premium Member
Brazed carbide I have used but the disadvantage is you need diamond tooling and setup to sharpen them. I no longer have any.

I've never had a problem using a regular grinding stone. It's not fast or pretty and wears the stone quite fast, but it has worked for me. Maybe my stones are better than I thought they were!
 

Brent H

Ultra Member
@Susquatch : thank you for the compliments!:)

I can add to the conversation with this:

For the beginning person on the lathe: Working with high speed steel and sharpening your own tooling gives you a lot more appreciation for how the tooling affects the material you are working with and how the geometry can improve or worsen the finish, cutting speed, depth of cut etc. Sharpening your own cutters will also be necessary when it comes to profiling, threading, parting, trepanning etc or any possible "non standard" cutting on the lathe. Grabbing an insert may not be possible, practical or affordable as using a high speed steel cutter.

The carbide tooling that is premade (not the indexable kind) also shows you profiles and cutter angles that you can readily use and get used to forming - this will help with HSS profiling for different materials. The pre-made cutters are also good for use on harder materials and since you may not be cutting tool steels, or other harder material - say in the 41xx category, stainless type stuff all the time is is fairly inexpensive to have a few of these around.

Insert or indexable tooling has some distinct advantages but it all depends on a few things as to whether or not you can benefit from them.

Some things to think about:

A) Insert tooling requires a specific holder for the insert. That means you will require different holders for different inserts. This can get expensive

B) Inserts are typically designed with the intention of cutting specific material, at a specific speed and specific feed for the best finish. Can your lathe achieve the specifications required to run the carbide efficiently and effectively?

C) The index-ability of the tooling allows for the tools to be set up for CNC use and the inserts are designed with specifics - Like speed, feed, and wear rates so that a machine can achieve repeatability once a tool is set up. Most of us "hobby" folks are a "one and done" type project people - Do you require that "quick change" or repeatability? Sometimes it can be nice if you have a DRO

D) The world of carbide insert tooling is, to put it mildly, freaking nut bar! There are literally thousands of combinations of cutters, shapes, angles, qualities, tolerances, material specs etc. You can easily go down the rabbit hole of tooling and never return! I currently have several insert holders for my milling machine that I cannot seem to find the correct cutter for, inserts that measured correctly don't fit due to possibly the rake angle or they are a smidge to thick ...argh! frustrating

As a beginner on the Lathe it is important to learn the basics and get that down - how the machine works, speeds and feeds with cutters and materials you can screw up without injuring yourself or damaging your beautiful Lathe. Become adept at different techniques and then see what you want to achieve. If you are going to make something neato mosquito out of a different material and your lathe is up to the task of running the carbide inserts - well have fun and go for it, just realize that the insert tooling has a learning curve and may not be something everybody "needs". Wanting......well that is different - LOL
 

Susquatch

Ultra Member
Moderator
Premium Member
D) The world of carbide insert tooling is, to put it mildly, freaking nut bar! There are literally thousands of combinations of cutters, shapes, angles, qualities, tolerances, material specs etc. You can easily go down the rabbit hole of tooling and never return! I currently have several insert holders for my milling machine that I cannot seem to find the correct cutter for, inserts that measured correctly don't fit due to possibly the rake angle or they are a smidge to thick ...argh! frustrating

Great Addition @Brent H .

Regarding the above quote. As I said earlier, my first adventure with Carbide Inserts pretty much followed that formula. I'LL NEVER BUY A DISCOUNT KIT AGAIN. They are very attractive but IMHO, they suck.

On the other hand, I think after you have "sort of" mastered your lathe or mill, I think one can successfully buy a few individual specialty holders and a few packages of inserts for them, if you are willing to do the research. By "sort of mastered", I don't mean mastered, I just mean that you are comfy warm about diving into a project without investing in an 33 video you tube series on how to cut a bar of a given diameter.

If you buy a purpose driven holder, for a certain type of machining that you do a lot of, and you buy it knowing where to get inserts for it, and how to use it, I think carbide inserts can be a great tool in your arsenal.

If for no other reason than that they are super convenient. It's hard to beat doing a BIG project from start to finish without having to worry about grinding any HSS tools.

Note - I'll prolly come back here with a few of my favorites (both HSS and Carbide Inserts) after others have chimed in with theirs. For now, I feel like this thread has already served its purpose and that it will only get better as other experienced members chime in with their advice and favorite tools. In other words, the tone of this thread is already downright perfect for what I was after.
 

gerritv

Gerrit
My approach is to use a consistent seller on Aliexpress, and look up the grades (of which there are usually only 3-5) for what they are suitable for. That is why I linked to https://www.machiningdoctor.com/grades/.

My tool holders are all 12x12, and are either CCMT06 or VCMT with some MGN200 for grooving/parting. By focusing on a few, I can afford to buy inserts for different materials, label the package and will soon add a SFM chart to each.

My threading inserts are all ER/IR11 A at present, with some AG 16's on the way (with new holders to match).
This is for a 1022 lathe, solid toolpost.

I take deep cuts with carbide but not production level hogging. But I will admit to tripping the current overload on the input contactor at times.

For special jobs I regrind the relief for sharper edges and to shrink the tip radius. Working with <1mm diameter items requires a few diversions from standard.

My present fav source for the inserts is https://www.aliexpress.com/store/911783152, very predictable quality and brand name.

gerrit
 

Susquatch

Ultra Member
Moderator
Premium Member
My approach is to use a consistent seller on Aliexpress, and look up the grades (of which there are usually only 3-5) for what they are suitable for. That is why I linked to https://www.machiningdoctor.com/grades/.

My tool holders are all 12x12, and are either CCMT06 or VCMT with some MGN200 for grooving/parting. By focusing on a few, I can afford to buy inserts for different materials, label the package and will soon add a SFM chart to each.

My threading inserts are all ER/IR11 A at present, with some AG 16's on the way (with new holders to match).
This is for a 1022 lathe, solid toolpost.

I take deep cuts with carbide but not production level hogging. But I will admit to tripping the current overload on the input contactor at times.

For special jobs I regrind the relief for sharper edges and to shrink the tip radius. Working with <1mm diameter items requires a few diversions from standard.

My present fav source for the inserts is https://www.aliexpress.com/store/911783152, very predictable quality and brand name.

gerrit

Excellent @gerritv! I was hoping you would chime in with something JUST LIKE THAT. You DID NOT disappoint!

Please come back and provide an update on the AG16s and holders after you have assessed them and are willing to recommend them - or willing to tell others to keep their distance!

Thank you!
 

thestelster

Ultra Member
Premium Member
When turning or facing on the lathe, I use carbide inserts probably 70% of the time, and HSS the other 25%. The carbide inserts that I use most often are CCMT and DCMT finishing inserts with the smallest nose radius available usually a -1 (1/64"), and to be used in positive rake tools. The tool on the left is CCMT, the one on the right is DCMT. The DCMT allows me to get in real close to tail stock when I'm using a center.

If I'm turning stock under 3/4", I'll use HSS. But imagine turning 2" diameter stainless with HSS. At 100rpm, I'd fall asleep! But with carbide, 400rpm, I'm alert (especially with those hot yellow or blue chips bouncing off your bare flesh, and the smell of burning hair!!)
 

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VicHobbyGuy

Well-Known Member
My approach is to use a consistent seller on Aliexpress, and look up the grades (of which there are usually only 3-5) for what they are suitable for. That is why I linked to https://www.machiningdoctor.com/grades/.

My tool holders are all 12x12, and are either CCMT06 or VCMT with some MGN200 for grooving/parting. By focusing on a few, I can afford to buy inserts for different materials, label the package and will soon add a SFM chart to each.

My threading inserts are all ER/IR11 A at present, with some AG 16's on the way (with new holders to match).
This is for a 1022 lathe, solid toolpost.

I take deep cuts with carbide but not production level hogging. But I will admit to tripping the current overload on the input contactor at times.

For special jobs I regrind the relief for sharper edges and to shrink the tip radius. Working with <1mm diameter items requires a few diversions from standard.

My present fav source for the inserts is https://www.aliexpress.com/store/911783152, very predictable quality and brand name.

gerrit
Thank you. Finally a response about inserts......
 
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