Austenitic stainless steels show different machining characteristics as compared with the carbon steels or ferritic and martensitic steels due to their inherent properties. High ductility, low thermal conductivity, high tendency to work hardening and large built up edge formation on the cutting tools are the main reasons for the low machinability of austenitic stainless steels. The present study therefore, aims in improving the tribological characteristics at the tool-chip interface by surface texturing the cutting tools. The textures on the rake face of WC/Co carbide tools were obtained by laser machining. The effect of texture lay directions with respect to the cutting edge and chip flow was studied. The turning tests were performed using textured and conventional tools for various cutting environment. For studying the cutting performance cutting forces and tool wear were analyzed. SEM and EDS analyses were done to understand the tool surface characteristics. Results show that the textures can modify the adhesion of workpiece on the rake face as compared to the conventional tool and can help in reducing the cutting forces. Moreover, the lay direction of the groove significantly affects the tool-chip contact area and hence reduces the friction at the tool chip interface. © 2017 The Authors.