I’ve been very busy lately with the wedding and everything surrounding it, but I’ve still been able to squeeze in a little shop time here and there. Not wanting to start a large project, I’ve just been practicing with a set of turning tools I purchased. Since I’ve spent a decent amount of time using them, I thought now might be a good time to review them.
Shortly before I finished my bench grinder project, I ordered this Benjamins Best 8 piece set to practice grinding and turning with. I haven’t used HSS turning tools regularly in almost two decades, and the last time I did, I didn’t sharpen them myself (thanks dad). Thus I thought it would be prudent to learn to grind using an $80 set, instead of on individual tools that cost $100+.
Overall the set is a very good deal, because you get every turning tool you need to do basic spindle and face-plate turning. The tools are made from M2 HSS, so they are easy to sharpen, yet still have good edge retention. The set only has two real short shortcomings, and depending on your point of view they might not be that significant.
The first shortcoming is fit and finish. As shown below, the handles are a little rough, and the steel was ground fairly coarsely. The handles might be a little annoying at first, but replacing them with handles you made will not only solve that problem, it’s also good practice. While not pretty, the rough grind doesn’t have any effect on the cutting performance of the tool.
The second and more important short coming, is the size of some of the tools. The spindle gouge shown below is 3/4″ and that’s pretty large as far as spindle gouges go. The bowl gouge is listed at half inch, but its more like 5/16″. You can do good works with both tools, but it would be easier, if they where more appropriately sized and shaped.
Overall it’s a very good set, but with some small tweaks to the tool selection, and $10 to $20 worth of fit and finish upgrades it would be an excellent starter set even at an increased price point.