Suitable Steel For Home Made Wrenches

I am sure you are familiar with them. The flat black (sometimes otherwise
coated) wrenches that come with a lot of power tools for changing blades, b
its, discs, etc. They look like they are stamped out of sheet. I am certa
inly not going to make a stamping die for one wrench, but I am sure I could
cut one out of flat stock on the mill when I need one and a regular mechan
ics wrench won't fit. The thing is I don't know what steel to use.
How about an inexpensive alloy that might be easily heat treatable. I don'
t think surface hardening would help for a wrench or a spanner as the cross
section would still be softer, but maybe somebody who knows better could s
peak up?
Reply to
Bob La Londe
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Bob La Londe fired this volley in news: snipped-for-privacy@googlegroups.com:
Most any alloy that can be hardened (which is most) would work fine. You can bet your bottom dollar those "included" stamped wrenches are made from the cheapest stock they can muster.
The real issue is how much use it will get. If you plan to use it frequently and a lot, invest in some real tool steel. If not, shrug...
Lloyd
Reply to
Lloyd E. Sponenburgh
I like to have dedicated spanners for some tools and get the forged single ended ones. Plenty of people selling them on ebay in a range of sizes in metric and inch. Searching for "single ended spanner" (in the UK anyway) or "DIN 894" after the DIN standard for them finds plenty.
Reply to
David Billington
Those things are almost always made of plain carbon steel. 1070 is common for tools and other odds and ends that need strength with a moderate amount of ductility.
You'd be suprised how *few* things that we think of as high-strength are actually made from alloy steels. For example, the piston rods on shock absorbers and struts: Plain carbon, 1070.
Quality wrenches often are made from a proprietary grade of chrome-vanadium alloy. But the advantage in most practical uses is slight.
Reply to
Ed Huntress
I make custom flat-stock tools from car leaf springs or dull circular saw blades, annealed and hardened in the wood stove. A carpenter friend gave me a stack of old blades when he cleaned out his truck.
Cold-rolled sheet is reasonably hard and machinable.
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If you are an alarm wizard, who sells a good, reasonably priced pan-and-tilt outdoor surveillance camera?
jsw2
Reply to
Jim Wilkins
That depends on what you see as "practical use". If it says "chrome vanadium steel" on the outside, and that makes the wrench sell more without you getting sued for false advertisement, isn't that a highly practical use from the "let's make lots of money" point of view?
Reply to
Tim Wescott
"Jim Wilkins" fired this volley in news:ku0i18$e4g $ snipped-for-privacy@dont-email.me:
Jim, I'm hardly an "alarm wizard", but you get good or cheap... not both.
I found some very servicable pan and tilt, IR night vision, wired ethernet AND wireless outdoor cameras from China. The original brand- named one is called "Foscam", and they sell for $30-$50 more than the clones. The clones are called the "B-Robot" cameras (sometimes 'model 541'), and they sell - with shipping - for about $40.
They also offer for free download a bunch of utilities including a multi- cam viewer, network helper utilities, and a lot of other stuff.
Lloyd
Reply to
Lloyd E. Sponenburgh
Man, you're a cynic.
I don't know what they're using now, but 30 years ago, quality hand-tool makers -- Williams, Sears, Snap-On, etc., used either an alloy like AISI 6118 (SAE J1268) or a similar proprietary, custom steel grade.
The advantages are that they develop more hardness and strength with less carbon, and they retain some ductility, or at least resistance to brittle failure, even with high-strength heat-treatments.
But, again, those advantages are only meaningful in some circumstances. If you're ham-fisted and you abuse and overstress your hand tools, the alloys may save you some grief. But really, for most uses, plain-carbon steel wiill give you plenty of strength and hardness.
Reply to
Ed Huntress
Good AND reasonably priced huh? Can we go with good OR reasonably priced? LOL.
Seriously, my standard weatherproof PTZ sells for around $2k. (+/-) depending on the exact model. I have a number of commercial sites that use them for safety, surveillance, and process management both indoors and outdoors. That being said there are a number of pretty cheap PT (no Z) cameras for sale on Fleabay that have a limited IR illumination range. I use one in my back shop for a buddy in another state who I'll talk with on the phone while I show him how to do something. I think it was around $100-150. I have seen a few in the couple hundred range that claim to be outdoor rated. Some claim to be PT(Z), but the Z is digital, not optical. Might be ok for some uses, but if you really need zoom then you want optical zoom. This drives up the price as it requires more expensive optics, and more controls.
I think if you buy something within your "disposable" price range off Fleabay or Super Circuits or SCD or Amazon or someplace like that you have a pretty good chance of getting something that meets about 50-60% of its claimed specs out of the box, and may last for a year or two.
"Wireless" megapixel+ IP cameras with an internal card slot are a good bet for a lot of people. The higher the resolution the better chance you have of getting useable video. One 3.1MP camera I have used (fairly expensive for the one I use) will view an area of 2 gas pump islands with 2 pumps each, and have enough resolution to read a license plate. Its not available on Fleabay for a couple hundred bucks though, and its not even a Pan Tilt model. Its fixed.
Notice I put wireless in quotes? That because wireless is not a magic cure all to installation headaches. Wireless WiFi has a very limited range, and it still requires power. There are also some very long range (not WiFi) wireless solutions. I have one installed in Mexico that is shooting standard composite video about 1.2 miles. (Sorry, my Mexican work visa has expired so don't call me for those jobs guys. LOL). It still requires power, and it was a fairly expensive point to point system.
For something in between for outdoor use I have often recommended simple cable lockable game cameras. Low power. Limited video clip length. Effective on spot trouble locations. Modestly inexpensive. Easy to install. You just need to change the batteries regularly. BLM uses variations of them in various camoed installations with large batteries to prosecute vandals, dumpers, litterbugs, and other criminals in unmanned, historic, camping, and remote trouble sites. Bear that in mind before you bend your girl friend over at some remote Indian writings historic site for a quicky. You just might be giving a BLM ranger an eye full. LOL.
If you want to chat about your application I'ld be glad to give a few minutes of directed thought. (928) 782-9765. I assume all out of town callers and unknown numbers are telemarketers until proven otherwise so I am short with those calls when I answer.

Reply to
Bob La Londe
My understanding of the whole alloy-steel thing (which may be faulty) is that the alloys don't really change the ultimate strength to which you can heat treat in a thin section, but they make it easier (sometimes vastly so) to attain that strength in a piece where you can't get fast cooling everywhere.
So things that are fairly constant sections, and get made in massive enough quantities that you can afford to really fine-tune your heat-treat process, can get made with plain high-carbon steel.
Forged wrenches, OTOH, have massive sections sitting right by thin sections, and would benefit from some alloying.
Reply to
Tim Wescott
A trail cam hasn't detected anyone but me, so I can't justify spending a lot. I just want an idea of the tradeoffs and possibilities. I've challenged a few neighbors to locate the (nonexistant) cameras up on trees to keep them and their drinking buddies honest. jsw
Reply to
Jim Wilkins
Well, that's one type of alloy steel, or a range of types, which are formulated to harden at slower quench rates -- the slowest being the air-hardening punching grades, like the A-Series.
There are many reasons for alloying steel. That's why there are so many types. But your basic idea that many of them are no stronger, but are easier to quench without damage, is correct. Carbon steel will achieve hardness and ultimate strength that is as good as those of most alloys, and fairly close to those that are formulated specifically for maximum hardness and tensile strength. But if you have to harden a piece that varies markedly in thickness -- particularly something like a stick punch -- it can crack right off where the thickness transition occurs, just from quenching it. This was a big problem in the early says of press-tooling manufacture, when there wasn't much else besides what is, today, the W-Series of water-hardening, plain-carbon steels.
Steel metallurgy is a very involved subject, and the field is full of myths.
Generally true. It's also true that carbon steels are typically a bit more tolerant of imprecise temperatures for initial heating to the transition temperature, and they'll do different things, satisfactorly, through a range of tempering temperatures. IOW, they're *usually* a bit more forgiving of imprecise heat-treatment.
Any steel will suffer damage if you quench it too fast. The thing about plain carbon is that you MUST quench it fast, or it doesn't harden. O1 can be quenched more slowly. A1 can be quenched by just letting it lay on the bench, cooling in ambient air. That is, if it isn't too thick.
No doubt that's part of it, but the big issue is the inherent ductility of the alloy -- or its impact resistance, or other ability to withstand overloading.
Reply to
Ed Huntress
I've made a few open end wrenches. A couple for the spindle on my horizontal mill (1", 1-1/4 or so). I just used 3/16 mild steel. They're about 8 - 10" long, so it's not possible to put a lot of torque on the jaws. But on occasion I've whacked one with a lead hammer without ill effect.
YMMV, of course.
Bob
Reply to
Bob Engelhardt
I've seen some pretty dubious tools with markings like this.
finish quality is a pretty good sign of what you're dealing with. If the nickel plating is flaking off and the thing has never been used, you can bet the rest of the thing is no better.
Reply to
Cydrome Leader
Do what the average mechanic does when he needs a wrench to fit where a normal one doesn't. Modify an existing wrench. Bend, grind, cut, whatever is necessary.
Reply to
clare
I have a whole 'set' of those, including a 4" long 12" crescent wrench. I prefer using a 7" angle grinder over a rotary grinder for thinning open end wrenches. They're quicker and it's easier to keep the result flat and parallel.
In another life, I made a Chebby distributor wrench from a 1/2" Chiwanese box wrench, some 3/8" barstock, and a coat hanger (rod), and a car battery. T'warnt purty. ;)
(Jus'cuz it was all available and nobody was open Sunday night.)
Reply to
Larry Jaques
Its funny. I grew up in a rural area and my dad owned a country hardware and autoparts store. I could get anything there from fish hooks, to spare ammo, to nuts and bolts, to plumbing for just about anything, to power tools, to whatever. Now that I live in town I find myself having to visit 5 different stores for a single project, and then still having to order something that I think should be a stock item in order to finish a project.
What really kills me is the bulk bolt bins in all the stores are grade 2 at best, but our main bulk bolt bins were all grade 5. We only stocked a few grade 2 in certain sizes for farmers that used them as shear pins on equipment. We also had bulk bolt bins of grade 8. Every time I see the fastener aisle in a big box store all I can think is Hillman sucks.

Reply to
Bob La Londe
"Bob La Londe" fired this volley in news:bYcNt.119471 $ snipped-for-privacy@fx19.iad:
ditto... I use 1/2" x 5" grade 2 for shear pins in my bush hog's PTO shaft. Not fer nothin' else... (but they're as expensive as grade 8, now, if you buy them from a hardware store!)
LLoyd
Reply to
Lloyd E. Sponenburgh
I've made a boatload of wrenches and such from O-1 ground stock. I'll harden the working area and draw it back to very dark straw to blue. I can't remember breaking of deforming one in decades. Easy and cheap!
Reply to
Tom Gardner
Where are you buying your O-1? I have a few pieces I picked up for making punches and punch dies, but it wasn't cheap.
Reply to
Bob La Londe

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