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post #1 of 17 Old 03-30-2012, 06:44 PM Thread Starter
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Tool making

I just found out a while ago that there is a steel supplier right near my house that supplies cut offs from all kinds of different alloys, including M2 steel. My brother picked up 2 peices for me but only when home did we realize they were unhardened. My friend has a forge that can get up to 2000 degrees so I have enough heat. But I am wondering what the process of hardening and tempering is? How exact does the tempurature have to be? Any thoughts or words would be appreciated!
Thanks
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post #2 of 17 Old 03-30-2012, 07:58 PM
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I run a heat treater at my day job....your best bet it to take it somewhere....the reason is that quenching an item that had reached it's annealling point (the point it becomes non magnetic) can be tricky....we use a quench brine mixed with water at about 100 degrees and keep pumps running the brine over the parts...to temper the part we place it in an oven for an hour at the temp needed to give us the flexibility we need...ie a machete would be best at a lower temp then a shovel head because you want to keep an edge on the machete.

The metal you have, assuming the carbon content is high enough to heat treat, would need to be at about 1800 degrees and you can not let it loose it deep red glow before it hits the quench tank. then leave it in the quench for about 15 seconds, or until it cools enough to touch it comfortably. You can tell it is heat treated if you can't sharpen ut with a file. Tempering it at 400 to 500 degree will probably give you the hardness and flexibility you will want.

A definitely difficult process. If any of those are off then you will get warpage or worse the part will crack. Don't drop a heat treated tool until you temper it either. I threw a shovel head at the ground and it shattered like glass.

Last edited by PhilipCollier; 03-30-2012 at 08:20 PM.
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post #3 of 17 Old 03-30-2012, 09:54 PM
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When I did my article on tool making I did a lot research on heat treating different metals. High Speed Steel is simply beyond the capabilities of the home shop unless you've got a serious heat treating oven. The temperatures have to be too high and very strictly adhered to for any success. Judging the temperature by color like most blacksmiths do won't work.
If you want to make your own tools you can do a good job with High carbon steels that can be treated in a forge or with a torch. Another option is to make your tools from High Speed Steel and then send them out to be heat treated properly.
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post #4 of 17 Old 03-30-2012, 10:00 PM
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^ that guy's right. You could do it at home, but the odds of messing something up are really high. Every metal will harden, regardless of carbon content, but to get the properties you want, you need the right mixture of elements. Too much or too little of one will mess everything up and turn a tool into a paperweight.

Best way to do it is have the heat treating professionally done. But at that point you're better off just buying one already made. You can just sharpen steel. You'll have to resharpen often, but you can do it with just about any steel. Oh, I know, you could try getting a cheap set of wrenches and using them for your base stock. Every wrench is hardened already right?
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post #5 of 17 Old 03-31-2012, 09:53 AM
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You can buy high carbon steel pretty cheaply at most of the metal supply houses. I get most of mine from www.mscdirect.com or www.use-enco.com
This can easily be heat treated by simply heating it cherry red or until it becomes non magnetic, quench it in water or oil depending on whether you buy water hardening or oil hardening stock, then temper it in a home oven to about 350 degree depending on how hard you want the final metal. You can get a chart from the company telling you exactly what temperature will give you what Rockwell hardness.
that being said for tools that you seldom use you don't even need to harden it. I still do because it only takes a few minutes.
I make all kinds of specialty tools with different tips to cut special cuts. I also make beading tools and captured ring tools. I used to make them out of old screwdrivers but it's easier now to just buy the tool steel and have it on hand.
I have an article that will be coming out before too long in Woodturning Design on making a small skew from a spade bit.
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post #6 of 17 Old 03-31-2012, 01:37 PM
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One thing to add to this, if you use oil to quench make sure it isn't flammable. I know this seems obvious but i have seen it done in error. Red hot metal hitting 3in1 oil or SAE 30 can be ummmm exciting to say the least.
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post #7 of 17 Old 03-31-2012, 02:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nate Bos View Post
I just found out a while ago that there is a steel supplier right near my house that supplies cut offs from all kinds of different alloys, including M2 steel. My brother picked up 2 peices for me but only when home did we realize they were unhardened. My friend has a forge that can get up to 2000 degrees so I have enough heat. But I am wondering what the process of hardening and tempering is? How exact does the tempurature have to be? Any thoughts or words would be appreciated!
Thanks

I've been making cutting tools at home for 50+ years, yes, it can be dangerous; but people do this at home everyday. Try some of these links:

http://www.threeplanes.net/toolsteel.html

http://www.davistownmuseum.org/PDFs/...ToolMaking.pdf


I know it's a lot of reading, but you need to learn all this to be any good at it. Hundreds of other links out there and I haven't seen anybody give bad advice.

Harrison, at your service!
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post #8 of 17 Old 03-31-2012, 10:47 PM
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When I use oil I use peanut oil. It has a higher flashpoint. If you submerge then entire red hot area in the oil I have not had a fire. Smokes like crazy. I always do that outside and keep a metal lid handy to put out the fire just in case.
Still it is so much easier to just buy water hardening and use that. I use oil when I am heat treating a metal that is unknown to me.
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post #9 of 17 Old 04-02-2012, 08:03 AM
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I've had good luck making lathe tools out of old files.
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post #10 of 17 Old 04-02-2012, 08:43 AM Thread Starter
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Well, thanks for the advice! I'll let you know if I do anything with the steel
Thanks!
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post #11 of 17 Old 04-02-2012, 10:44 PM
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Using old files for tools is why I wrote the article on tool making. files can be dangerous. The don't just break they shatter because they are very hard. Drop one on the floor and it will often break and sometimes in several pieces.
If you use a file heat it to 350 degrees in your home oven for 1/2 hour or so and then let it cool naturally. This will take the brittleness out of it and make it safer to use. It will still hold a good edge.
You can heat treat it like normal tool steel if need be. To anneal it I just put the files in my barbecue grill with lots of brickets. When the coals get red hot the steel will also. Just let it burn out over night.
Now it's soft enough to work, You can file it , cut it, drill it etc.
Now you need to harden it. You really only need to harden the first inch or so. I use a Mapp gas torch to heat it to a not magnetic red. Then quench in oil. Heat it in the oven to 350 degrees and let it cool and you'll have a decent tool.
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post #12 of 17 Old 04-04-2012, 11:48 AM
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John, that reminds me of last summer; I used my grill to preheat some steel, and the temp was steady at 600+ degrees, on low. Gas grill. Lid closed. This year I'll check it on high. I didn't expect it to be that high on low.....

Harrison, at your service!
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post #13 of 17 Old 04-04-2012, 04:07 PM
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I didn't use a gas grill. Don't know how hot it gets if you set the steel down on the stones. I was using a charcoal grill and just packed the coals around the steel. They eventually get red hot and just carry the steel with them. It's about the only thing I can cook without burning it. :)
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post #14 of 17 Old 04-04-2012, 04:09 PM
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John is that like a stake knife?
Lee
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post #15 of 17 Old 04-04-2012, 09:59 PM
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More like Bowie. :)
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post #16 of 17 Old 04-05-2012, 08:30 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by john lucas View Post
Using old files for tools is why I wrote the article on tool making. files can be dangerous. The don't just break they shatter because they are very hard. Drop one on the floor and it will often break and sometimes in several pieces.
If you use a file heat it to 350 degrees in your home oven for 1/2 hour or so and then let it cool naturally. This will take the brittleness out of it and make it safer to use. It will still hold a good edge.
You can heat treat it like normal tool steel if need be. To anneal it I just put the files in my barbecue grill with lots of brickets. When the coals get red hot the steel will also. Just let it burn out over night.
Now it's soft enough to work, You can file it , cut it, drill it etc.
Now you need to harden it. You really only need to harden the first inch or so. I use a Mapp gas torch to heat it to a not magnetic red. Then quench in oil. Heat it in the oven to 350 degrees and let it cool and you'll have a decent tool.
I have to disagree with you on not using files for lathe tools. I've been using files for 40 years without incident. The oldtimer that put me onto it told me to grind the grooves off the file to where it's just a piece of steel. The grooves act like a scratch on a piece of glass weakening it. A file does have limitations do to how thin it is. You can't make large tools to do heavy cutting but you can make smaller tools for more detail work.
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post #17 of 17 Old 04-05-2012, 01:42 PM
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Steve I've also used them but when you talk to all the experts they all warn of this. The teeth are stamped into the file and even when ground off leave an area that's easy to fracture. If you heat the file to 350 degrees and let it cool it's still hard enough to hold a very good edge and won't be brittle. It still could crack here but probably won't fracture into little sharp pieces.
As long as you hold a file so not very much is hanging over the tool rest your probably OK. However if you ever get a good catch it could shatter and throw metal back at you.
Using files without annealing them is kind of like me not wearing a face shield. I know I should and sooner or later I'm going to pay for it. We know it's bad but we've gotten away with it for so long that we have a false sense of security.
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