Different Types Of Lathe Tools Used In CNC Turning

Different Types Of Lathe Tools

There is a mass of different types of lathe tools, and it can be hard to keep track of them all. Not sure which one to use for your project?

We’ve got you covered. This guide will discuss the basics of different types of lathe-cutting tools and help you choose the right tool for your CNC turning needs.

What Is Lathe Machining, And How Does It Work

Before we choose the proper lathe tools, try to learn more about lathe machining.

Lathe machining uses a cutting tool to remove material from a workpiece to create the desired shape or finish.

It works by spinning the workpiece (metal, wood, or stone) while a cutter is applied to it.

The cutting tool is generally held in hand but can also be attached to a machine. The workpiece is rotated on a lathe, and the cutting tool is moved along the surface of the workpiece, removing material as it goes.

In recent years, computer-controlled lathes (CNC lathes) have become increasingly common, as they offer greater precision and efficiency than traditional lathes.

Selecting the proper lathe and cutting tools for the job at hand is vital, so there is a clear introduction to different lathe-cutting tools.

Classification Of Lathe Cutting Tools

Here are some different categories of lathe-cutting tools.

Category One: By Use

Turning Tool

A turning tool is a type of cutting tool used on a lathe. Turning tools come in a variety of shapes and sizes, depending on the material being cut and the desired finish. The most common turning tools are made from high-speed steel or carbide. A lot of different types of cuts can be made with turning tools, including facing, turning, and boring. When choosing a turning tool, it is crucial to consider the type of material being cut and the desired finish.

Turing tool

Boring Bar Tool

The boring bar tool is an essential component in the CNC turning process, where it is used to create a precise diameter hole in a workpiece. The tool is made up of several parts, including the shank, bar, and head. The shank is held in the machine’s turret or tool holder, while the bar and head serve to shape the bore. Boring bar tools come in different sizes, lengths, and shapes, and can be used to create different types of holes, such as counterbores, tapers, and chamfers. 

boring bar tool

Thread Cutting Tool 

A thread-cutting tool is a device used to cut threads onto a material, typically metal or plastic. The tool is typically attached to a lathe or a drill press and creates a spiral groove or thread on the surface of the material. Apart from being used in industrial manufacturing, thread-cutting tools are also extensively used in home and professional workshops to create threads for screws, bolts, and other threaded fasteners. 

Chamfering Tool 

A chamfering tool is a cutting tool used to create a beveled edge or a chamfer on an object. The chamfering tool features a sharp cutting edge that lines up with the edge of the workpiece, allowing it to remove excess material and create a uniform angled surface. 

Knurling Tool

A knurling tool is used to create a pattern of straight, perpendicular lines on a workpiece. The lines are typically used to provide grip or traction but can also be used for decorative purposes.

Knurling tools typically have two or three dies mounted on cylindrical bodies. The dies are rotated with a handle and cut grooves into the workpiece as they rotate. Knurling tools can be used on various materials, including metals, plastics, and wood.

knurling tool

Facing Tool

A facing tool is a cutting tool used to remove material from the surface of a workpiece. It can be used to create a smooth, finished surface or to deburr the workpiece. Facing tools are typically made of high-speed steel or carbide and have a sharp cutting edge.

There are many facing tools, including chamfer cutters, milling cutters, and reamers. When choosing a facing tool, it is essential to consider the type of material that will be removed and the desired finish.

facing tool

Parting Tool

A parting tool is a lathe tool used to create a groove in the workpiece.

The tool is inserted into the lathe chuck, and the cutting edge is brought into contact with the workpiece. The tool is then fed into the workpiece, keeping the cutting edge at a consistent depth.

As the tool is fed into the workpiece, it will cut a narrow groove. The depth of this groove can be controlled by adjusting the position of the tool rest.

Parting tools are used for various applications, such as creating grooves for internal threads or dovetail joints. They can also be used to cut off workpieces from the parent stock.

parting tool

Category Two: By Materials

The six types of lathe-cutting tools, according to materials, are:

nameApplicable Scenarios
High-speed steel (HSS) a common tool material with a good all-around performance
Carbide-tipped tools more wear-resistant than HSS but not as tough
Ceramic toolsvery wear resistant but brittle
Diamond-tipped toolsused for machining very hard materials
CBN (cubic boron nitride) toolsused for machining very hard materials
PCD (polycrystalline diamond) toolsused when excellent finishes are required

The application will determine the specific material used for a lathe-cutting tool.

Category Three: By Structure

There are three main types of lathe cutting tools by structure: single-point, multi-point, and geometrically shaped.

Single-point tools are the most basic for turning, facing, and Chamfering.

Multi-point tools have two or more cutting points for turning, grooving, threading, and knurling.

Geometrically shaped tools have complex shapes that are used for more specialized applications. The tool you use will depend on the material you’re working with, the desired finish, and the size and shape of the workpiece.

With so many options available, consulting with a qualified professional is vital to ensure you use the best tool for the job.


Category Four: By Method Of Applying Feed

Lathe-cutting tools are classified according to the method of applying feed to them.

There are three main types of lathe tools: left-hand, right-hand, and round nose.

nameApplicable Scenariosadvantages and disadvantages
Left-hand toolsused for left-handed turning applicationmore efficient at cutting left-handed threads but are less versatile than a right-hand tool
Right-hand toolsused for right-handed turning applicationsare more versatile than left-hand tools but are less efficient at cutting left-handed threads
Round nose toolsused for both left and right-handed turning applications the most versatile type of lathe-cutting tool, but they are not as efficient as either left- or right-hand tools

How To Choose Lathe Tools

Regarding lathe tools, there are a few things to keep in mind.

  • The machine tool should be made of high-quality materials that can withstand the rigors of lathe work.
  • The tool should be designed for the specific work you’ll be doing.
  • The machine tool should be comfortable to use and easy to control.
  • One final consideration is price. Lathe tools can range widely in price, so it’s important to balance quality and affordability.

By keeping these factors in mind, you’ll be able to find the best lathe tools for your needs.

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We’re ready to help you with all your machining needs. Contact us today to get started.


The right tool can count your project for much. With the help of correct knowledge and tools, you can create beautiful pieces that will last for years. Have you tried any of these CNC lathe techniques or tools? What was your experience? Let us know in the comments below.


CNC turning can be performed using various tools; lathe tools are the most commonly used. Next, we’ll answer some of the most frequently asked questions about lathe tools and their use in CNC turning.

What are the main types of lathe tools?

The three main types of lathe tools are single-point cutting tools, multi-point cutting tools, and form-relieved cutting tools. Single-point cutting tools are the most basic type of lathe tool and are typically used for roughing operations.

As the name suggests, multi-point cutting tools have multiple cutting edges and can be used for roughing and finishing operations. Form-relieved cutting tools are designed to follow the contours of the workpiece and are typically used for finish machining operations.

What are the main types of lathe tool materials?

The three main types of lathe tool materials are high-speed steel (HSS), carbide, and ceramic. HSS is the most common type of lathe tool material and can be used for ferrous and non-ferrous materials.

Carbide is harder than HSS and is, therefore, better suited for machining tough materials such as stainless steel or cast iron. Ceramics is the hardest type of lathe tool material and is ideal for machining tough materials such as titanium or Inconel.

What are the main factors to consider when choosing lathe tools?

Some of the main factors to consider when choosing lathe tools include material compatibility, hardness, edge geometry, and coating. Material compatibility is vital because different materials require different types of lathe tools.

Hardness is necessary because it determines how quickly the tool will wear down during use. Edge geometry is essential because it affects the quality of the finished surface. The coating is necessary to improve the tool’s resistance to wear and corrosion.