Sources for tool steel to make cutters for cutting gears.

John Barth

Silver Business Member
Mar 22, 2013
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My stock of good old W2 is gone. I need to find sources for an annealed 1/4 inch square tool steel that I can machine and harden for cutting special gears. May seem like a simple request but I have ordered tool steel for tow on line companies, machined the profile cutters only to find that the steel would not harden. Appreciate any knowing what what type steel you use for your cutters and where I can order it.
 

glenhead

NAWCC Member
Nov 15, 2009
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I use W1 for anything I need to harden. It's not quite as hardenable as W2 (Rockwell C56 for W1 vs C67 for W2) but that means it's tougher so your edges last longer. It's also way easier to find in smaller pieces. In 1/4" square stock there's also air-hardening A2 that's rated at C64; I've never used it. I buy most of my metal stock from onlinemetals.com and have always been very happy with both their quality and prices. They'll send you the batch spec sheets for the metal you buy if you ask for it.

You also have the option of using HSS tool blanks. 15% cobalt blanks keep an edge beautifully. As you probably know they're a heckuva lot harder (mid-60s Rockwell C) than annealed tool steel (mid-50s), but you don't have to fiddle with hardening and tempering them. Depending on how you do your shaping that inherent hardness can be a stumbling block. I get my tool blanks from McMaster-Carr (mcmaster.com) or MSC Industrial Supply (mscdirect.com).

Hope this helps.

Glen
 

measuretwice

Registered User
Jul 28, 2019
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I'm an O1 man, or at least that's what I keep in stock in a variety of diameters and also some gauge plate (generic name for tool steel flat bar, like drill is for round). An oil quench has less of chance of cracking. Whether matters will of course will depend on the geometry, but combined with price and available all over the place, it seem the best all round one to stock....

"As you probably know they're a heckuva lot harder (mid-60s Rockwell C) than annealed tool steel (mid-50s), "

that seems high for annealed. can't remember offhand what it is, but pretty sure annealed tool steel is less than that.
 
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