hardening tool steel

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Posts: 26
Joined: Wed Sep 04, 2013 12:46 pm

hardening tool steel

Unread post by ardenhanson » Thu Apr 24, 2014 5:26 pm

After spending 6 weeks as an apprentice under a famous wood sculptor I find that I need more wood carving chisels. I have 2 36" long pieces of annealed O1 tool steel. I can cut out the shapes I want but would love to find someone who can help me harden these properly. As a good TGOM member; I'm willing to trade what I have and what I know for what I want and what I need to know.

Martin Pansch
Posts: 312
Joined: Thu Feb 14, 2013 10:44 am
Location: Young America, MN

Re: hardening tool steel

Unread post by Martin Pansch » Thu Apr 24, 2014 11:09 pm


Are you looking for the some to explain the process or have someone show you how?

O-1 is fairly easy to heat treat without needing crazy complex equipment. For doing a bunch of small tools I like to use my gas forge to heat the piece up a little past non-magnetic and quench in oil. You can test the piece with a file. If it hardened the file should "skate" (i.e. not bite). Immediately after hardening polish up the chisel with either sand paper or a piece of grindstone (more resistant to the heat). When the chisel is bare, shiny steel heat it until the business end is a light brown for hand carving chisels. If these are chisels you are going to be pounding on with a mallet you might want to temper to a darker brown. For small tools like this I to use a MAPP torch to draw the temper for some good heat control. If you aren't burning the tangs into a handle you may want to draw the color on the handle end of the tool to a purple.

You could get a lot more complex with your heat treating if you want, O-1 can be marquenched, you can thermal cycle them (probably not needed if you aren't forging them), use a electronic heat treating kiln, etc. but I think you can get good results doing it by eye.

If you want someone to help/show you how I am hosting anyone who wants to come at my place in Young America for a tool making weekend 10 May. I would be happy to help.

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