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Lathe Tool Sharpening

What are typical rake and clearance (relief) angles for HSS tool bits? See Figure A1 and Table A1.
Cutting Edge Face Nose Front Cutting Edge Angle Nose Angle Body

Side Cutting Edge Angle Back Rake Angle Side Rake Angle

Side Clearance Angle

End Clearance Angle

Figure A1. Tool bit nomenclature. Material Aluminum Brass Bronze Cast Iron Copper Machine Steel Tool Steel (unhardened) Stainless Steel Side Clearance 12 10 10 10 12 1012 10 10 Front Clearance 8 8 8 8 10 8 8 8 Side Rake 16 5 to 4 5 to 4 12 20 1218 12 1520 Back Rake 35 0 0 5 16 815 8 8

Table A1. Clearance and rake angles in degrees for common metals.

2008 Metal Arts Press Extracted from Machine Shop Essentials: Q & A

What is the procedure for sharpening HSS general-purpose lathe tools? Begin by dressing the grinding wheel. Next, look up the typical angles for the workpiece material, and then follow the steps in Figure A2. Dip the tool in coolant frequently to keep it from overheating and annealing. Any discoloration on the bit indicates it may no longer be hardened. If this happens, consider starting over again from the beginning. Tool bit angles are not critical and most tools will cut material satisfactorily, just less effectively.
Grinding Wheel Tool Rest
p To

To p o f Tool

Set Tool Rest Angle on Grinding Wheel

Move Tool Side to Side Across Wheel

Side Cutting Edge Complete


Front Cutting Edge Complete

Move Tool Side to Side Across Wheel 6 Break Point to 1/64" Radius

Cutter Complete

Apply Back Rake

Do Not Remove This Edge When Grinding Rake

Figure A2. Steps for sharpening HSS tool bits

2008 Metal Arts Press Extracted from Machine Shop Essentials: Q & A