HSS Indexable Inserts

High Speed Steel Lathe tooling.AVI

It’s not obvious at first but this video is about the Arthur R. Warner Company’s HSS indexable inserts.  After seeing it I’ve decided that I would really like to give them a try.  I know you can get a better finish with HSS bits but I don’t like having to stop to sharpen them.  So I use carbide inserts.  I get a pretty good finish with them and I can cut with a tip for hours before it wears out and I have to rotate the insert to a new one.

It looks like the Warner Company’s inserts give you the advantages of HSS along with quick and easy sharpening.  When a tip on the insert gets dull you can rotate to a new one in seconds without losing your lathe bit’s position.  And when all 3 tips become dull you can sharpen them by rubbing the top surface of the insert on a whetstone for a few seconds (see video at 2:30).

Unfortunately, they don’t seem to sell inserts that will fit my tool holders (TCMT32.52 for my 8×12 and TCMT 21.51 for my 7×12).  So if I want to give HSS inserts a try I’ll have to buy a 5 bar turning kit for about $150 or somehow find the time to make a bar that will fit their inserts.  The price of their kit is considerably more than what I paid for my imported insert holders but it seems reasonable for a quality American made product.  Has anyone bought one or tried their inserts?

3 thoughts on “HSS Indexable Inserts”

  1. I have their 3/8″, 5-piece indexable HSS set and they work fine. The holders are of high quality commensurate with their cost. With regard to the inserts, the T-15 holds up well and will definitely produce a nicer finish than a carbide insert at any speed, primarily because a HSS tool is always sharper than carbide. This is especially true when cutting stainless steel. The inserts can be sharpened by honing the top of the insert but you need to do it before you wear the tip too much. You can also slap carbide inserts on these tools for when you need them. If you give the ARW company a call they will tell you which inserts will fit their tools, or which of their HSS inserts might fit your existing tool holders.

    The thing to remember is that any indexable tool locks you into the tip geometry of that tool/insert combination. This geometry may not be optimal for a small hobby lathe.

    I suppose the question to be answered is whether or not these tools are worth their relatively high cost, and I think this depends on whether or not you can grind a decent lathe tool. If you can, then these tools are definitely not worth it. If you cannot grind tools or dislike doing so then they might be worth it. For me, I no longer use them but do enjoy looking at them from time to time – they really do make nice tools.

    They do make a nice inserted tip boring bar (I own this one, too) and I can recommend them as long as you pay attention to your extension. These bars are steel so extension matters. Actually, a better buy is a good Circle Machine Carbide bar if you need to bore deep.

    Bottom line: well made tools that use HSS inserts that work better than carbide on a hobby lathe. Do not expect them to outperform a well-ground HSS lathe tool with good geometry but they will be better than carbide.


  2. We used to sell HSS inserts many many years ago, they are still used in special applications where carbide inserts contaminate the material being cut.

  3. I’ve gotten a bunch of their insert blems to use in attchments and things, even the blems had nice edges and were well made.


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