Turning tool quality

I have three sets of full size (not for pen turning) turning tools. I don' t know their history as I got each set from descendants of the original own ers. I am trying to identify whether they have good steel and are worth ke eping for my future turning aspirations. In the future, I expect to turn s ome furniture parts, a few bowls, but turning will not be the main part of my woodworking efforts.
I think the sets are pre-1980s and probably pre-1970s or even 1960s. They are described as follows:
Set1 (9 tools) - These have a label on the handle that says "Craftsman" (al a Sears) and that label could be a decal. It is well attached. The handle s are wood and stained red. The steel is dull and looks, to the uneducated eye, as the same as I see on old, quality chisels. No markings on the ste el.
Set2 (8tools) - These have a blue paper label on natural wood handles that says "Marples Made in Sheffield England". The steel is bright and some are marked (surface printed) with both imperial and metric sizes.
Set3 (8 tools) - These have the brand stamped into both the steel and handl e, which is natural wood. The lettering says "Disston USA" with a keystone logo. The letters and logo in the handle are colored red. The steel is b right.
These all have some light surface rust, which should clean up fine, however the rust on the Craftsman tools gives me more a feeling of quality steel ( gut feeling, not sure why).
Are there ways that I can evaluate these sets to determine if they have goo d steel and are worth keeping and using? Any insight you can provide is mu ch appreciated.
Thanks,
Bill Leonhardt
PS: Also cross posting to alt.craftes.woodturning
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On Sat, 12 Mar 2016 15:25:09 -0800 (PST) Bill Leonhardt wrote:

keep them sharp and use them
the material is not relevant
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On 3/12/2016 6:32 PM, Electric Comet wrote:

That's my thought as well.
I'm no expert but from what I have read, seen and experimented with, one could use a sharpened piece of steel with good results.
I have a cheap beginner set which I keep sharpened and they do a very good job.
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On 12/03/2016 4:25 PM, Bill Leonhardt wrote:

Almost certainly carbon steel. I've explained more in r.c.woodturning.
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On 3/12/2016 5:25 PM, Bill Leonhardt wrote:

An alternative is to spend a couple hundred dollars and get a set of 3~4 carbide tools. Learning curve, almost zero. They stay sharp for a very long time and the cutting tips are replaceable. No sharpening on your part.
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On 3/12/2016 5:25 PM, Bill Leonhardt wrote:

[snip]
Makes little to no difference, Bill. A chisel of carbon steel 3/4" wide and sharpened at the proper bevel will work just as well for you as a piece of properly sharpened carbide of similar dimensions. It just won't do so as along, requiring you to take a break and sharpen it. At the most basic level that is the sole difference in turning tools.
Not unlike the question of which camera takes the best photographs? Top of the line Nikon or the comparable Canon model? The answer lies in who is the best photographer.<g>
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snipped-for-privacy@ameritech.net says...

Bottom line is, sharpen 'em all up and see which ones you like best. Or just trade 'em off as they get dull and turn that much longer before a sharpening session.
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snipped-for-privacy@ameritech.net says...

Forgot to mention, which is the best camera also depends on what you shoot. Both have some specialized bits available that aren't in the other maker's lineup.
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Back in their day, and maybe even today, Marples, Craftsman, Disston, all m ade fine tools. But if the age you state is correct, 80s, 70s, 60s, then i t is unlikely the tools are made from the current modern high speed steels used in all the high end turning tools today. They were just regular carbo n steel. As others stated, you will get plenty of sharpening experience us ing these tools. They will function just as well as newer upper end tools. Just more sharpening. keep them and use them. Doubt the tools have any collector or used value.
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It is always great to be able to use the latest and greatest, but sometimes the old stuff works just fine. I agree with the earlier posts that these are probably carbon steel, the kind used for several centuries before we go t to today's super steels. Most likely your set(s)are a moderate quality 1 095, or even 1084 (more shock resistant) carbon that is hardened somewhere in the mid 50s on the Rockwell scale.
When I was teaching turning, I saw a lot of those as they are plentiful. T he good news is that they are soft enough to sharpen easily and they need i t much more often than the tools with inserts or the tools made from high s peed steel. Most of my tools are made from M2 and for me work fine, but a lot of turners use tools from steels that are vastly superior to mine. How ever... they can't sharpen their tools as easily or as well without a fuss, and I free hand sharpen, which is something you can do with those tools to learn how to grind the edges you want.
I would happily grind away on them to get my edges and use them to the nub. Check this page (and a couple after it) out and you will probably see you r tools there somewhere with different colors of handles in different condi tion. IIRC, the guys that had some of those tools found them at garage/est ate sales from time to time and loose they paid about $5 each, and in a set they paid from about $5 to $8 per tool.
I used to know some of the older turners that hung onto their carbon tools as they do take a finer edge than M2 and the other steels out there which m ade them ideal for finish work.
Robert
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Thanks for all the advice on my tools. Sometimes (most times?) I over thin k things. The best advice was to just use them and get on with your life. :-)
I am rebuilding a Rockwell 46-111 now and hope to get it on-line soon so I can really give these tools a tryout.
Thanks again to all respondents.
Bill
On Saturday, March 12, 2016 at 6:25:12 PM UTC-5, Bill Leonhardt wrote:

n't know their history as I got each set from descendants of the original o wners. I am trying to identify whether they have good steel and are worth keeping for my future turning aspirations. In the future, I expect to turn some furniture parts, a few bowls, but turning will not be the main part o f my woodworking efforts.

y are described as follows:

ala Sears) and that label could be a decal. It is well attached. The hand les are wood and stained red. The steel is dull and looks, to the uneducat ed eye, as the same as I see on old, quality chisels. No markings on the s teel.

t says "Marples Made in Sheffield England". The steel is bright and some a re marked (surface printed) with both imperial and metric sizes.

dle, which is natural wood. The lettering says "Disston USA" with a keysto ne logo. The letters and logo in the handle are colored red. The steel is bright.

er the rust on the Craftsman tools gives me more a feeling of quality steel (gut feeling, not sure why).

ood steel and are worth keeping and using? Any insight you can provide is much appreciated.

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