I am a armature wood turner and a armature blacksmith. I wanted to take
a try at making my own turning tools does anyone know a good source of
m2 tool steel and good resources on how to harden it properly?
Man you gotta know I'm all-for guys doing stuff themselves, got
my rear axle on my pickup apart right now, gonna replace all the
bearings by myslef, if posible, with help, only if I need it.
But heat treating your own high speed steel ain't gonna pay off
unless you got a lot of money to spend on equipment. Me, with what
I have to work with, I can't even heat treat A2 tool steel and get
it to be better than plain ol' O1, because A2 needs a half hour soak
at a very specific temperature (1750 to 1775F).
All A2 needs is a temperature controlled electric furnace.
(i got the parts just haven't got around to putting it together)
But that's only good for A2, won't even come close to what's needed
The best edge holding knife blades to be had are those made from the
"all hard" type power hacksaw blades. .100" are the thickest I know
of in the US, but 3mm and 3.5mm are sold in Europe.
Too thin huh? :/
There's a "used tools" store in town and they've got what you
could use, I bet, large lathe bits and all sorts of odd HSS and
WC tooling, maybe check into a place like that in your area?
They are under "tools-used" in my local yellow pages.
Just to hold the wolves at bay... ;)
Yes, you -can- heat treat HSS with a torch.
And yes, it won't be any better than a really well done "torch
heat treated and cold treated" hunk of old file (1.22%C steel).
To get the medium and high alloy steel's "increased potential" you
need some fancy heat treating equipment. :/ That's a fact. :/
Adding a cold treatment to some plain high carbon steel can work
wonders tho. I make knife blades that can "cut into stuff" like
the teeth on a tap do.
Home heat treated F2 or O7 tool steels, since rounds will prob'ly
work for you, will prob'ly beat just about everything shy of
professionally heat treated HSS in edge holding. It's what they
used for "finishing cuts" before HSS and WC got so cheap and
I've been wanting to make some knife blades from F2 or O7 tool
steel forever, but can't get it in sheet form. :/
I don't want F2 or O7 forged, I'd have to get "rounds" (or hex)
sliced up and then the slabs surface ground.
Maybe some day?
Alvin in AZ
Used this company before - custom lengths - and very nice surface. Once done -
then you have it properly heat treated - many places in towns that do that and
isn't much. Much better work.
@ home at Lions' Lair with our computer lionslair at consolidated dot net
NRA LOH & Endowment Member
NRA Second Amendment Task Force Charter Founder
IHMSA and NRA Metallic Silhouette maker & member
Mark Russell wrote:
I watched a TV program "Woodsmiths Shop" where he visited an Englishman now
living in Eastern Tenn. The Englishman made a lathe gouge (1") from an old
Chevy leaf spring. He used a farriers forge and did about 3 or 4 heating
and tempering processes.
From what I can remember (without finding and running the VCR again) he hot
cut the spring to the shape with the tang and length.
He heated the blank, and then used a swage block, the show host as the
hammerman, and a 1" fuller to form the gouge.
He reheated the gouge and let it cool in wood ash to reset the grain.
When cool he reheated it again to very red, tested it with a magnet to make
sure it was not magnetic, and fully submerged it in oil (motor oil) to
Then he tested it with a file and it was so hard the file would not touch
it. Too hard now, and too brittle.
To temper it, he placed it back in the forge, tang first, with the round
part out of the coal bed.
As the gouge heated, the colors could be seen creeping up the gouge.
When the 'straw' color was about 1/2" from the cutting end, he oil quenched
Then it was grinding to get the cutting angle and then sharpening.
He turned a long wooden handle, bored a hole in the end, and used a
mortising chisel to square the hole. He said he heated the tang and burned
it in the hole, but this was not shown on the show.
It seems almost all smiths use OCS (old car springs) as excellent cutting
tool steel. Coil springs and torsion bars too.
You could use something like 1095, which you could pick up at your local
spring shop along with 5160 for scrap value or less if you are lucky. Part
of the fun of smithing is learning how to make the steel do what you want it
to do and heat treating is one of the skills which can be useful. Sometimes
the knifemakers on this group get carried away as to what is required for
smithed tools.(this is not a critisism, but requirements can be different)
The difference between Rc45 and Rc52 are not usually relevent to someone
making tools for themselves, but may be for knives for sale. I harden stuff
by trial and error. I make quite good edges that hold quite well under
normal circumstances(not moose skinning) just using the oxidation colours at
different temperatures. I do avoid really exotic steels though. A lot of it
is trial and error as well until you find the best colour for critical
temperature, which is not always the loss of magnetism with some alloys, but
most commonly. The oxide colour is also found by trial and error often for a
particuliar steel. If you are not sure what to harden the steel in cut a
slug off and water harden it if it doesnt fracture then it will probably
water harden, if it does oil harden.
Have fun, hammer often and learn from your unsucesses