Robert Sorby TurnMaster lathe chisels

WOOD magazine rating
Robert Sorby


The Robert Sorby TurnMaster is the first tool in the world to combine three cutting edge technologies in one flexible tool.
Cutters are available in tungsten carbide, titanium nitride (TiN) and high speed steel (HSS) providing unsurpassed range to woodturners at every level.
An unprecedented collection of parts and cutters make it the most versatile and value added single tool concept on the market today.
Among its many features TurnMaster incorporates a patented interchangeable cutter head that locks into three positions allowing for simple scraping and shear scraping options.

All cutters interchangeable with one tool
Indexable, patented cutting head for shear scraping
Interchangeable cutter head – no need to buy whole new tool
Flat underside for stability
High tensile torx screw/ key for quick cutter release
The handled version is is 525mm (20 5/8") in length
The unhandled version i.e. the shank and head is 270 mm (10 5/8")
For those who wish to turn their own handle the diameter and length of the tang are as follows:

Diameter is 13mm (1/2")
Length of tang is 55mm (2 1/8")

WOOD magazine review

Replaceable cutting tips

Review Summary

Sorby’s new TurnMaster combines the features of several tools into one well-crafted tool. After using this tool on a variety of projects in my shop I’ve discovered some of its benefits, but also discovered that like any tool it has limitations. The TurnMaster is machined from round bar stock with a flat milled along its bottom side.
Near the business end of the tool is a locking collar which allows the tip of the tool to be rotated and locked securely at one of three locations: horizontal, for general cutting, as well as 45⁰ left and right for shear scraping. I like that the TurnMaster is made of heavy bar stock because it provides support for the cutting edge and minimizes deflection, even if the tool overhangs the toolrest several inches. Rectangular sectioned tools tend to deflect more, when comparing like-sized tools. The flat provides ample support on the toolrest and keeps the cutter registered in the same position. The locking collar is secured with a custom wrench (provided) but doesn’t need excessive tightening. I often underestimated my own strength when securing and had to strain to loosen it for repositioning. While I like the craftsmanship of the locking collar, it requires the toolrest to be positioned a few inches from the wood, a philosophy counterintuitive to typical turning practices. Sorby offers a variety of cutters in a variety of steels to fit the TurnMaster. I found the “speciality” shapes less practical for most projects and mostly used the square, round and diamond cutters. Although the Tungsten Carbide cutters offer a simple “no sharpening required” solution, I prefer the high-speed steel (HSS) for its superior keenness and the ability to sharpen, in the event that the tool is dropped or edge comes in contact with other steel items lying around in the shop. I didn’t find any advantage to the TiN-coated HSS in either wear resistance or cut quality. With the cutter positioned horizontally it’s easy to remove a lot of wood quickly no matter which cutter is attach to the end. When you’re ready to make finishing cuts, rotate the cutter to 45⁰ and take light passes. Shear scraping produces a much finer finish on the wood with considerably less torn grain. I used the TurnMaster on bowls, spindles and hollow forms and even some rosettes I was reproducing, and observed nearly the same acceptable results regardless of grain direction or wood species. However, I did note that the tool cut easier and with less torn grain when I increased the RPMs, which is not always a viable solution because of safety with larger diameters. The TurnMaster is a well-designed tool and is versatile with its various shaped cutters. It can be used for roughing and finishing cuts, but bear-in-mind, it’s still a scraper, and scrapers rarely yield surfaces as smooth as those cut while rubbing a bevel with a sharp gouge. —Tested by Brian Simmons

Detailed Ratings

out of 5





Ease of Use




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