Lathe tools, or tool bits as they are sometimes called, are the cutting tools that are used for turning and facing work on the lathe. The most popular lathe tools are those made of high-speed tool steel (HSS). They can be used for machining most materials including wood, plastic, aluminum, brass and steel, the tool blanks are relatively inexpensive. These tools will retain their hardness at temperatures up to 1000° F. (588° C.). For this reason, depth of cut, cutting speed and feed rates are important. The big advantage of high-speed steel tools is the ease with which they can be sharpened. A standard aluminum oxide grinding wheel can be used. Once shaped and sharpened, they will retain their cutting edge for a long time.
NOTE: A tool is named by the direction from which the chip leaves the tool; so a right-hand tool has its cutting edge on the left and the chip peels off to the right.