Five Types of Lathe Tooling

You need to know your cutting tools if you want to have an excellent product. To do this, you’ll want to understand lathe tooling, i.e. what it does and how it works. This will help you maximize the use of your tools when considering wear and tear. Let’s look at five types of lathe tooling: external turning tools, boring bars, parting tools, threading tools and drills. These aren’t the only tools used, but they are some of the most basic ones you’ll encounter.  

External Turning Tools

Lucky for us that in tooling we don’t worry about fancy names. External turning tools are used for roughing and finishing work to the outside of your tools (hence “external”). They help to cut away and perfect the exterior of your piece. There are various kinds of external turning tools that do specific work, such as roughing turning tools and finishing turning tools, which are the lathe tools that are used most often.

Boring Bars

Zzzz…Boring bars don’t get their name from what they’re like, but rather from what they do. Each has a circular design, making for a unique-looking tool. Available in different sizes, they are used to either make an existing hole bigger or to finalize it by smoothing out the finish. When used for woodworking, metal boring bars can be plunged and dragged to create slots and asymmetrical holes. But here’s the catch: boring bars can’t be used if you haven’t already used a drill.

Parting Tools

Parting tools are the only item on this list with a name that doesn’t encompass what it does. Parting tools do more than just part, they also groove and cut off work pieces, all while offering the smooth and consistent finish that you desire. Parting tools are used for detailed exterior work, and must be used carefully for success.

Threading Tools

Threading tools are used to—you guessed—add threads. They create a spiral ridge and can be added both to the internal and external parts of your workpiece. If you intend to thread a screw into your workpiece, use an internal threading tool after you have drilled the initial hole. If instead you prefer a screw that has threads, use an external threading tool. 


Drills make initial holes in lathe work. It is not entirely like your typical power drill, but if you’re not familiar with lathe tooling, it is your best comparison. The difference? Power drills have the drill piece spinning and boring a hole into the workpiece. Tool and workpiece trade places here, however, with the lathe drill sitting stationary and the workpiece spinning around it. If you need to drill a hole on a piece you will be working on, the lathe is your best bet. 

Contact Custom Tool for All Your Custom Lathe Tooling Needs

We know tools of all shapes and sizes because we’ve been offering fast, high quality custom cutting tools and grinding services for over 40 years. We create both standard and non-standard tools for every application. To learn more about custom options, fill out one of our quote forms and we’ll get back to you ASAP.