With a newly-developed technique, pulsed high energy density plasma (PHEDP), TiN, TiCN, and (Ti,Al)N coatings were deposited onto silicon nitride and cemented carbide cutting tools. The structures of these coatings were systematically investigated in this paper. The average surface roughness (Ra) of the coated tools were ranged in 20~150 nm. The smooth surface of coated tools means that the coatings are promising candidate for cutting tools of high precision and it is in favor of reducing the fiction coefficients and flank wear of tools. The coating thickness varied, in the range of 3~20 µm, with the deposition conditions of the shot number of pulsed plasma, and the voltages between the inner and outer electrodes of the coaxial gun. The coating has a densified structure compared to the substrate structure and almost no pores and cracks exist in the coating surface. The grain sizes of the coating were small (<100nm), much finer than those of the substrate (>2 µm). Except for TiN-Si3N4 system, no apparent columnar grain structure as presented predominantly in typical vapor deposited coatings was observed. In fact, an equiaxed structure was presented, due to the pulsed mode of plasma bombardment and solid solution strengthening of C or Al into TiN lattices, resulting in disruption, through renucleation, of epitaxy on individual columns. A continuous and densified interface was observed. All these characteristics in structures promised an excellent performance of the coated tools.