View Full Version : Toolsteel hardening - where to start?

Joern T Larsen
07-23-2007, 5:25 PM
What would be a good starting point for learning about how to harden tool steel? Any good references (books) worth paying money for?

I want to learn how to heat treat/harden tool steel so I can make some of my own cutting tools, either using water hardening or oil hardening tool steel, as well as reparing older, damaged tools.



Ron Brese
07-23-2007, 6:22 PM
Google, Heat treating tool steel, you will find a weath of infomation on the web.

Ron Brese

Cecil Arnold
07-23-2007, 7:35 PM
The real trick, IMHO, is to learn to judge the temperature of the steel by the color before you quench it.

Ron Brese
07-23-2007, 8:40 PM

I read extensively about heat treating tool steel in order to decide if I wanted to harden the irons for the planes that I make, I actually was close to buying a test kiln at one point. What you will find as you investigate this process is that small pieces can be done reasonably well in your shop, however the larger the pieces of tool steel become the more unpredictable the results will be. I opted for making my irons from the best tool steel I could find and then turn it over to the folks that do my heat treating. They have state of the art equipment for this work and provide very consistent results. I sell my wares so I can't take chances with unpredictable results, if these irons were for my use only, I'd probably give it a go.

Ron Brese

Jim Nardi
07-23-2007, 8:56 PM
Heat treating 01 is so easy you really just need to google it. Todd Herrli has a nice demo in his video on making moulding planes. My addition is make sure you do it outside. The oil catches fire and spits some the bigger the blade the more fire and spitting. A used toaster oven goes a long way to keeping the peace at my house just for heat treating. I also have a used electric frypan and vedge oil tried both and prefer the toaster oven route. I've been reading Jim Kingshott's book making and modifing woodworking tools. Nice book with alot of info on building Infill planes and a few other basic tools.

Barry Vabeach
07-23-2007, 9:57 PM
Joern, as others have suggested, google will give you a wealth of info. I heat treated 2 blades yesterday and bothe came out fine. I buy 0-1 steel and use a magnet which is wrapped around a peice of wire to test for the right temperature for quenching. I suggest you also buy 5 or 6 firebricks that you can loose stack together to make a bit of an oven ( though leave lots of space for combustion air) the firebrick makes it easier to get enough heat to work with thicker blades. Remember to have a fire extinguisher on hand and keep the quench in a fireproof ( steel ) container with a lid nearby. Barry

Jimmy Newman
07-23-2007, 11:39 PM
I recently purchased the book "Tool Making for Woodworkers" by Ray Larsen. Although I have NO experience making tools, it does seem to me to be a very informative book on the whole process of making metal tools, including forging, shaping, annealing, hardening, tempering, and finishing.

Pam Niedermayer
07-24-2007, 12:12 AM
Your local community college should have blacksmithing courses for cheap.


Hank Knight
07-24-2007, 5:04 PM

Here are two web sites relating to heat treating tool steel you might find interresting:

A nice tutorial with pictures -- http://www.threeplanes.net/toolsteel.html

Ron Hock on DIY heat treatment -- http://www.hocktools.com/diyht.htm