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Scott S

Alternate Possibilities For Tool Steel

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I believe that in one of his books on plane making Jim Kingshott said he used old leaf springs from cars as tool steel. It is apparently high in carbon content. Cost is certainly attractive..... - Tom

Old leaves are excellent steel; I would avoid anything made after 1980 though; I have seen rusted springs that appear that they are made from some kind of laminated steel that corrodes away in layers. Go to a truck / auto spring shop, and I'm sure they can find plenty of broken pieces perfect for your purposes.

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I wonder if scissors blades would be a good quality steel, although not the best shape for scrapers, possibly small gouges though.

Depends entirely upon the scissors: if they were cheap crummy scissors, likely they were made of cheap crummy steel. Auto leaf springs are good, but way too thick for most of what folks want, unless they are a blacksmith already, and don't mind the extra work. I know a fellow in eastern Europe who uses a cupola and makes his own steel, and then makes his own tools. (How far do you want to take this?)

You can buy very good new steel in exactly the thickness you want, for very reasonable prices (the original poster was mainly asking about scrapers, it seems), and unless it is strictly for the fun of making tools, the amount of time put into home-made gouges is disproportional to the quality you will produce. Sorry. Just a fact. (The same could be said for violinmaking, I am aware, but we do it because we want to. Yes, a Chinese violin I can buy for a few hundred dollars invariably shows better workmanship than I have so far managed. Sorry... just a fact.)

I have made many of my own tools, from large gouges to tiny chisels, and from planes the size of my little finger joint and smaller to ones half the size of my fist (Steel, curved sole). I do so because I want to do so. I have done such things since I was a child, as my father did before me. But the Ibex planes work better than my home-made planes, as a rule. The commercial gouges work better than my hand-forged tools, as a rule. Mine are fine, but there are differences, and I freely admit that a company specializing in toolmaking is better at it than I will ever be.

If you do not have the money to buy decent tools, then, yes, I recommend making them, as you can certainly make a decent set of scroll-gouges, scrapers, knives, etc. if you have the time and inclination, and simply lack the funds. You can do it pretty cheaply. But you can buy better quality tools, a few at a time, and get better results, if you have the money to start. I started with a $75 set of Flex-cut gouges, and one spoon gouge I made myself. Someone gave me some Ibex planes, but I had made several wooden planes before they did so. They work, but the Ibex planes work better. Mine do not blister my fingers...the Ibex planes do. It is a tradeoff, I suppose.

If you want a good book on the subject, try Alexander Weygers' book The Complete Modern Blacksmith. He is very thorough, and includes sources of scrap steel suitable for particular tools.

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Depends entirely upon the scissors: if they were cheap crummy scissors, likely they were made of cheap crummy steel. Auto leaf springs are good, but way too thick for most of what folks want, unless they are a blacksmith already, and don't mind the extra work. I know a fellow in eastern Europe who uses a cupola and makes his own steel, and then makes his own tools. (How far do you want to take this?)

You can buy very good new steel in exactly the thickness you want, for very reasonable prices (the original poster was mainly asking about scrapers, it seems), and unless it is strictly for the fun of making tools, the amount of time put into home-made gouges is disproportional to the quality you will produce. Sorry. Just a fact. (The same could be said for violinmaking, I am aware, but we do it because we want to. Yes, a Chinese violin I can buy for a few hundred dollars invariably shows better workmanship than I have so far managed. Sorry... just a fact.)

I have made many of my own tools, from large gouges to tiny chisels, and from planes the size of my little finger joint and smaller to ones half the size of my fist (Steel, curved sole). I do so because I want to do so. I have done such things since I was a child, as my father did before me. But the Ibex planes work better than my home-made planes, as a rule. The commercial gouges work better than my hand-forged tools, as a rule. Mine are fine, but there are differences, and I freely admit that a company specializing in toolmaking is better at it than I will ever be.

If you do not have the money to buy decent tools, then, yes, I recommend making them, as you can certainly make a decent set of scroll-gouges, scrapers, knives, etc. if you have the time and inclination, and simply lack the funds. You can do it pretty cheaply. But you can buy better quality tools, a few at a time, and get better results, if you have the money to start. I started with a $75 set of Flex-cut gouges, and one spoon gouge I made myself. Someone gave me some Ibex planes, but I had made several wooden planes before they did so. They work, but the Ibex planes work better. Mine do not blister my fingers...the Ibex planes do. It is a tradeoff, I suppose.

If you want a good book on the subject, try Alexander Weygers' book The Complete Modern Blacksmith. He is very thorough, and includes sources of scrap steel suitable for particular tools.

COB3,

I give you lots of points for honesty. I agreed with most of what you said.

I am getting on the verge of saying "I do it because I can't NOT do it."

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I just came across a couple of pair of good big scissors used in a wall paper bussiness, I guess that is where that came from. Kind of off the subject. I did look it up after and the good ones have about 1% carbon, which is good. These scissors may have some other things in them they were $40 and up 20 years ago. I also agree about the availability of steel, I fool with blacksmithing and I guess I am always looking to make something. and many times it is not worth the end product, but I guess I try it anyway.

I am also buying some new tools, I want ot have at least some good knives and chisels. I also made and bought scrapers and happy with both. Most of my problems is learning how and taking the time to sharpen properly. I have just sharpened two block planes after 8 hours, but the difference is like having a stone ax and a nice tool. thanks for the input. kevin

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I use Starrett red stripe blades,RS-2104-8 and RS-2404-0 in my manufacturing process.

If anyone has used blades,(condition of the teeth does not matter) I could pay a fair

price for them.

I use 200-300 annually.

My email address is ert125@hotmail.com

Thanks

 

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Re burnishers, the mold building shop connected with my place of employment

lopped off some extra long 3/4" core pins used in molds, four about 10" long.

These are through hard to I believe upper 50's on the Rockwell C scale.

Since I only need one, OP or others if interested can PM me.

Steve.

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Both D2 and CPM S30V steel are good choices for knife blades. Each offers some level of corrosion resistance because of high levels of Chromium used in the making of both. If you are debating between one or the other, you choice will probably depend on cost constraints.

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If you want a scraper which has a curved burr edge produced from a burnisher, fully hardened tool steel will not work well. Spring steel like the kind in car rear leaf springs will be about the right hardness RC 35-45. The RC value of steel is a measure of its ability to resist plastic deformation which has to happen when making the burr edge of a scraper. Fully hardened un-tempered carbon steel is going to about RC 62-64, impossible to deform and very brittle.  If the steel is too soft, like coat hanger steel, it will not hold an edge or burr for any length of time. Any full hardened steel will be softened if tempered at a high enough temperature. It can be brought down to the desired hardness. The maximum hardness of any steel is determined by the carbon content of the steel, all the other elements in steel effect the ease with which is can be hardened and other things like corrosion resistance. . The actual structure of the steel is as much a function of the heat treatment as it is the material content. If you find a piece of steel which works well, it has the right carbon content and heat treatment to do what you want; find more of it and use it. Well, this is another whole area of knowledge. The temperature to temper steel to get a given hardness is different for different steels. If you have plain carbon steel and want to soften it a bit put it in your wife's oven at 400 F if she will let you for one hour. Steel should be at temperature for at least one hour to temper. 

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The best edge steel is forged carbon steel, the sort used to make chisels, plane blades, razors, scissors, &c. prior to about 1930. I have made a lot of finger plane blades using old plane blades and paring chisels of that era. They consistently rate an average of about Rc 62. But reducing this sort of steel by even a couple of millimetres is time consuming, so you have to be slightly crazy to do it even with a range of grinders wet and dry, a linisher and diamond charged lapping plates. I would think that old Stanley plane blades are about the right thickness for finger planes and the most practical solution. Getting into quenching and tempering stock tool steel and hoping for a good result is a hit and miss prospect.

To turn an edge on scrapers I use a rod of polished tungsten carbide. It's expensive stuff but I picked up a piece from a tool seller at a market for a few dollars. I find it doesn't pick up metal from scrapers like hardened steel seems to.

 

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Carbide steels make good burnishers. Tungsten, chrome, or other elements like moly will form carbides with the carbon and they act like little hard  pebbles in the steel, they are very hard and will not wear away. Those steels will sometimes produce hardness in the low 70's RC. They will turn an edge and never wear away or wear off. A very good way to test metal like this is to take an old file and drag the corner of the file on the steel. If the file just bounces over the steel it is very hard and would make a good burnisher. Mill files can be used this way to quickly check the hardness of another steel. Files are usually around 60 HRC. 

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On 11/6/2009 at 9:18 PM, Scott S said:

I've been thinking about making some scrapers and finger planes. The prices of tool steel to make these items doesn't make this prospect look very good so far. The following items have recently come to mind as possibilities for tool steel, Sawzall blade steel for scrapers, circular saw blade steel for finger plane blades.

Questions: Are these generally the right steels to use for these applications?

Are there any other throw away or easy to find objects that are made of the right kind of

steel for scrapers and plane blades?

Scott

There was some historical preference for saw blades and broken sword blades (earlier).

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Do not make this too difficult.   

You can buy blue steel shim stock at McMaster-Carr which makes good scrapers.  They also sell tool steel (O1, A2, etc) in a wide variety of widths and thickness for blade making.

You do not need those new and exotic particle metallurgy steels for this work.  Spend your time and money on making instruments or repair.

Mike D

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In the US "blue tempered" shim stock is available in most industrial supply catalogues and makes excellent scrapers. When I was an apprentice I found a power hacksaw blade and had a machine shop cut me a couple of sets of plane blades for about $150. Good to have your smallest blades be HSS because it's easy to over heat them with subsequent grinding.

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Another good source of steel for scrapers is the black metal banding used on shipping crates. You can find all different widths and thickness free for the taking behind warehouse buildings. This isn't quite as hard as spring steel, but it's easy to sharpen and holds an edge well.

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