Turning Tools

Hunter Carbide Tipped Tools

Mike Hunter, the head guy at Hunter Tools has spent a lifetime working in engineering tooling and, more importantly, in the carbide tooling industry.  He also happens to be, like most of us reading this page, an enthusiastic woodturner.  As a woodturner he was always striving to improve his turning, which meant spending time at the lathe, but that time at the lathe was being interrupted by the need to keep sharpening his tool - he knew that sharp tools make for sharp turning.  When faced with a particularly tough turning job, he experimented by using a carbide tip form his samples in lieu of a high speed steel tool that was dulling inConcrete tiles turned using Hunter Carbide Tipped Tool seconds. This was what we call a "light bulb" moment and the idea of Hunter carbide tools was born: tough tools that would keep their edge for a very long time, coupled with excellent sharpness.

Carbide tools had been tried before in woodturning, but no-one previously seemed to have recognised that whilst carbide is very tough and highly wear resistant is is capable - normally - of being brought to only a moderately sharp edge.  Key to the Hunter development was to apply the micro-fine diamond finishing process to the carbide tips to bring them to a sharpness comparable with that of conventional turning tool material, but with the added plus of long edge-holding and incredible wear resistance.  For confirmation of what "tough" means, check the accompnying photo which shows a concrete tile that was turned using a Hunter Tool: we don't expect you to be turning material this tough, but ... ...!

True, these "jewels" of the carbide industry cost a little more than ordinary tips but it won't take mentions of silk purses and sow's ears to make you realise that the little extra is what makes these the only tips worth considering for woodturning.  Sure, you can create "wood-shovels" with ordinary carbide tips, but you can't create what any self-respecting woodturner would call a turning tool capable of fine finishing as well as excavator-scale rates of material removal.

Even with a material this tough the original sharpness will dull after a time, at which stage loosening the retaining screw and rotating the cutter slightly to bring a new "facet" into operation will give a new lease of life to the tool.  Many practised turners rotate the cutter randomly after each use to equalise the wear all around the periphery, finding that this gives a more uniform use than turning only when the cutter dulls.  When no more good, sharp edge remains, install a new cutter - but keep the dull one for roughing jobs and uncertain materials where super-sharpness is not vital.

Whichever way you look at it, these superbly-designed, high-performance tools will undoubtedly become favourites of your toolbox in a very short space of time.  And chances are, you'll become a Hunter Tool evangelist too!

Osprey #1 & #2

The Osprey has been designed to operate as a "super-gouge", equally at home doing the work of both the spindle gouge and the bowl gouge.  The advanced geometry of the tool tip enables the cutter to operate with all of the wood-eating qualities for which these tips are renowned, yet the supporting bevel, below the cutter, enables delicate control of the cut depth.  For whilst these cutters have a formidable appetite for material removal when set to the task, Mike Hunter knows that to be truly universal in operation as a gouge, they must be capable of making both precise and delicate cuts.  Flute clogging with these superb tools is non-existent - since there is no flute: the shavings flow freely from the cutter with no restriction in any direction.

The Osprey is a majestic, highly skilled yet elegant bird of prey: it seems only fitting that these brilliantly-conceived, highly versatile and superbly-executed tools should be named in tribute to such a fitting role model.


Hercules & Mini-Hercules

Hunter Hercules and Mini-Hercules carbide tipped turning tools

The very name "Hercules" gives a hint of what to expect from this mighty tool and its smaller brother.  Built around sturdy square-section shanks, giving easy orientation on the toolrest, these tools are robust enough to be put to almost any task.  Whether you are roughing, bowl hollowing, deep hollowing or even spindle turning you will find that these guys are the business.  The Mini Hercules has also found favour among the pen-turning fraternity as a universal roughing-to-finishing tool - and if your pen turning includes super-tough acrylics and polyesters, stone impregnated and metallised materials, then this is one of the few tools that will make an impression.  Fabulously versatile and deceptively easy to use, this is probably the definitive "point and shoot" woodturning tool.


Hunter #3 Hollowers

Hunter #3 carbide tipped hollowing tools

Suitable for hollowing in more modest pots, hollow forms and boxes, the Hunter #3 Hollowers features 10 mm diameter diamond-finish carbide cutters on 3/8" diameter shanks.  The relatively large cutter ensures that smooth surfaces are generated when cutting whilst an overall diameter of only marginally over 10mm means that the access hole to your hollow forms can be very small indeed!  The swan-neck tool has the cutter set at a shear angle to improve peformance on sidewalls and under shoulders: the straight tool can be used slightly rotated to give a similar functionality.  The reach of the straight tool is approximately 110mm and that of the swan-neck approximately 130mm.  These are rewarding and easy tools to handle, very suitable for a first foray into the use of carbide tipped woodturning tools..


#5 Hunter Tool - Straight & Swan-Neck

By taking input from various internationally well-respected woodturners, teachers and demonstrators  Mike Hunter's style of carbide tipped tooling was developed to create the Hunter #5, one of the most versatile tools you'll ever use.  With its sturdy, 5/8" diameter, tapered, round shaft the tool can be set up to shear cut to left or right, takes deep hollow forms superbly in its long and strong stride and yet is sufficiently agile to make it a delight when turning bowls and/or creating in-turned rims and undercuts with a delicate touch giving an excellent surface finish. By reducing the shear angle slightly the tool becomes increasingly aggressive at which stage it can be used for heavier roughing cuts in real "wood-shovel" style.

So popular and successful has this tool proven that it has been joined by a swan-neck partner to facilitate reaching 'under the rim' on hollow forms and similar pieces. Not only is the shaft swan-neck on these versions but the cutter seat is rotated so that it creates an excellent shearing cut when drawing down the side of a vessel and across under the shoulder, mimicking the effect of rotating the staight tool to create a shear angle. The swan-neck tools are available with either a leftward bent (as illustrated) to suit inboard (conventional) turning or with a rightward bend to suit outboard (reverse rotation) turning.


Mark St Leger #1 Box Hollowers

I guess that even those of us who are not rocket scientists will have worked out what these little beauties are dsigned for.  In this context, "designed" is the operative word: the box hollowers are built on a 3/8" diameter tapered shaft and are furnished with 6mm diameter diamond finished carbide cutting tips.  The straight tool (bottom of above photo) is designed to do the main bulk of the hollowing and across the bottom of the box.  Shown in the middle, above, is the C-Hooked tool which will clean up the sides of the box.  Finally, the Back Cut (or Shoulder) tool enables you to make that notoriously difficult cut coming back under the top shoulder of and undercut box or pot, reaching up under the shoulder where its built-in shear action will give a perfect finish every time.  Of course, there are other ways of making great-looking boxes and pots: but why do things the hard way?


'Mate 1' & 'Mate 2' Hollowing Tools

These two tools will enable you to hollow bowls, boxes and forms easily and safely. The cutters are self-limiting on cutting depth and the tools are used simply laid flat on the rest. Equally at home in side- or end-grain, wet or dry and in the very toughest of tough timbers.


Hollowing Tool Upgrade Kits

Even if you don't own a Hunter carbide tipped woodturning tool today, but have a conventional alternative, it is still possible that you can upgrade the tool to use a carbide tool tip.

Many early hollowing tools were based on the "Arkansas Toothpick" - a 3/16" square toolbit held into the end, or side, of a hollowing bar.  If you have a tool such a this but would like to upgrade it to 21st century performance, then the HT1001 #1 Hunter Tool on a 3/16" shank is the way to go.  The tip is already set at a suitable shear angle to give good clean cutting combined with efficient material removal.

If you are a user of the BCT Supercut 2* or the BCT Versacut 2* then you can take advantage of the Hunter carbide technology and upgrade your tool.  The two upgrade kits offered include an 8mm diameter mounting shank into which is seated a carbide cutter of either 6mm or 10mm diameter.  Please note that these upgrades are NOT compatible with earlier versions of the Supercut and the Hunter cutters cannot be used to simply replace the original HSS cutters on the Supercut tools.  (*NB:  These are the current versions of these tools, equipped with a removable cranked square section side stabiliser fitted through a hole in the tool shaft).


Replacement Parts

Even a tool that wears as well as the Hunter carbide tools will eventually dull and need replacing: you may lose a retaining screw for a cutter, or the key.  In any of these cases, help is at hand in the list, below.

Please note that Hunter Tools use a fully seated cutter with all-round support, as well as a fitted securing screw, to ensure that vibration and movement of the cutter cannot occur.  It is virtually impossible to replicate this arrangement in a home workshop and for this reason we must respectfully advise against Heath Robinson-esque attempts to build a DIY Hunter Tool!


**NB: Prices quoted in pounds sterling.
Value Added Tax will be added to invoices to EU residents unless a valid EU VAT Registration Number is provided.

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1997-2005 P. Hemsley.  The information on this website is the copyright property of Peter Hemsley. 
Coeur du Bois and The ToolPost are trading styles of Peter Hemsley.  Whilst reasonable efforts are made to ensure the accuracy of information presented, no liability can be accepted for errors in this information nor for contingencies arising therefrom.  If you are inexperienced in any aspect of woodworking, we would strongly counsel that you take a course of formal instruction before commencing to practice