Tubalcain’s Lathe Bit Grinding Videos

LATHE TOOL BIT GRINDING #4 Clausing logan tubalcain

Even though YouTube seems to have umpteen million videos about machining I’ve found very few that will you show how to grind HSS bits for a metal lathe.  And most of them show it being done on special grinders or with the help of jigs and accessories that most of us don’t have.  These four videos by Tubal Cain, the author of many books about machining and metalworking, are among the few I’ve found that will show you how to do it free-hand on the kind of grinder most home machinists have.  [This is not the same Tubal Cain who wrote more than 20 books and 200 articles about machining and model engineering.  That was the late Englishman T. D. Walshaw who used “Tubal Cain” as a pen name.  This “Tubalcain” appears to be a retired shop teacher living in Illinois. – Rob]

The videos are good, but not great because they’re too long.  “mrpete222” doesn’t get to actually showing you how to grind a bit until the fourth video.  During the first three he discusses the shapes and angles of the various kinds lathe bits using large wooden models that make it easier to see what he’s talking about.   He also discusses the tool bit holders used by older lathes, which hold bits at an angle so they don’t need back rake added to them.

I’ll admit I’m not real good at grinding lathe bits because I usually use carbide inserts.   But I did learn a lot from these videos including these two great suggestions:

  • Use lay-out dye and mark out the angles you need to grind.
  • Practice on mild-steel (keystock).  It’s cheaper and grinds faster.


Lathe Tool Bit Grinding Video #1 (10:46) – Right-hand turning tool, back rake & tool holders, angle of keenness

Lathe Tool Bit Grinding Video #2 (5:13) – Facing and universal turning tools

Lathe Tool Bit Grinding Video #3 (5:39) – 60-degree thread cutting bit

Lathe Tool Bit Grinding Video #4 (8:46) – Actual grinding of right-hand turning tool

7 thoughts on “Tubalcain’s Lathe Bit Grinding Videos”

  1. The name “Tubalcain” is Hebrew, from the book of Genesis. He is a descendant of Cain (brother of Abel, son of Adam & Eve) and, according to the Bible, he invented metalworking and was the first metalsmith. It’s a not uncommon nickname some folks who work with metal like to adopt.

    It is possible that the name “Tubalcain” was corrupted into the name “Vulcan” by the Romans. Vulcan was, among other things, god of the forge and of blacksmiths.

  2. Tubal-cain, the forger of all implements of bronze and iron. Great videos of Lyle Peterson a master machinist like his father and brother Jan Peterson. Representing Illinois Valley.

  3. I love watching your videos. You approach machine work from a “back yard, seat of the pants” approach. Makes it easy for most anybody to relate to, instead of getting all wrapped up in tech & theory, you show what actually works (& doesn’t), and your descriptions of different types & brands of equipment is priceless. Thank you for sharing your experience with the rest of the world!

  4. Need some help I start my lath and start cutting as it goes from tale stock to head it’s cutting at and angle tried re leveling the deck that didn’t help shifted the gear box head that didn’t help got any tips for me


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