View Full Version : 12L14 aplication and source.

Bob Quale
02-08-2005, 09:57 AM
I'm in the process of making some tool holders and jigs. I am using some 4140 that I had laying around. I wanted to try some 12L14 do to its' ease in machining. Can it be ground in a surface grinder?(I don't know what the lead will do).

Anyone know of a supplier?(I usually use MSC but they don't carry it)

Thanks Bob

02-08-2005, 10:02 AM
It's more commonly used as screw machine stock.While not as durable or heat treatable as 4140 it can replace it in fixtures if they aren't going to see any rough use. Just don't try and weld it. No leaded stock that I know of welds very well.

02-08-2005, 10:14 AM
It should grind okay, although a high-quality dust mask might be a good idea. Inhaled lead ain't good for yer brain cells.

My biggest gripe with 12L14 is its strong inclination to rust.

There's an outfit called "Metal By Mail" or maybe "Metal Mart" that I think carries it.

02-08-2005, 11:03 AM
I've gotten it from Speedy Metals. I found them via an ebay ad ('buy it now').

Agree w/Steve on the rusting issue. The ends of all my unused pieces, still in the shipping bundle, rusted in no time from just the humidity.

02-08-2005, 11:41 AM
I recently picked some up to give it a try for a tool post.

I usually go through Metal Express, but after cross-checking with Nolan Supply, I found Nolan to be much cheaper and I got it just as quickly as I would've from M.E.

Nolan's my new source for now.


Forrest Addy
02-08-2005, 11:53 AM
You guys that routinely use 12L14 and other free machining alloys for everyday projects really should regard the stuff as training wheels. Free machining alloys are intended for high production of items like fittings and machine parts where tooling life and cycle time are significant cost factors. That it's convenient for first projects for neophyte machinists is only incidental.

Once those first projects are out of the way and some skill and confidence is built it's time for the beginner to build skill working with other more common and possibly more difficult materials. It has to happen sooner or later and sooner is better.

The material should be selected to suit the job not for its ease of machining. 4140 is the perfect stuff for tool holders. Jigs can be made of anything handy unless they're intended for permanent shop equipment when they should be made of better stuff.

Regardless, while 12L14 is good stuff and it does machine beautifully, it's not common, it's expensive, and it's not well suited for projects requiring strength or durability unless you wish to carburize it and heat treat it.

Move on to plain vanilla materials. You can satisfy 95% of your shop's ferrous projects with 3 alloys. Mild steel, pre-HT ANSI 1040 or 4140, and oil or water hardening tool steel. That's all I stock.

I won't have any leaded steel in the shop except for specific projects. When I'm done I dispose of the remnants. While I keep good ID on my materials and remnents I fear I would unthinkingly grab a short hunk of scrap 12L14 for a welded lifting boss or something. Leaded steel does not lend itself for safe reliable welds.

[This message has been edited by Forrest Addy (edited 02-08-2005).]

02-08-2005, 12:12 PM

Bob, use what you can afford, we all cant afford all the good stuff,in fact I for one dumpster dive for some of my material.

I do purchase what I need for customers, but if i'm just piddleing around It's in the scrap box I look.

02-08-2005, 12:50 PM
Most HSM projects are not highly stressed, and do not require exotic alloys or methods. It does help to know what the material is, and a bit about it's applications, but don't get too hung up on it.

If I am making an engine model, or a jig, fixture or tool holder for my own use, leaded stock will fill the bill. Most of the time, aluminum will also work as well.

The lighter tools that are used by the HSM will perform much better with the more easily machined materials, and the completed projects will serve the purpose just as well.

If you are making a firearm or automotive part where failure can result in harm to life or limb, by all means, use the material most suited to the application, otherwise, have fun.

The poor welding qualities of leaded steel are obvious as soon as the puddle is formed. It will froth and foam like sody pop.

Michael Moore
02-08-2005, 02:11 PM
I think that Mr. Murphy is likely to ensure that any inappropriate bits of mystery metal will find their way into some part in which they don't belong. After all, that is his job, and he's very good at it.

Shop wisely by waiting for bargains to show up so you can afford to buy bigger quantities and have some left over for stock, and then keep the different materials marked and segregated.

I've got way too many buckets of pieces of unknown metal that are maybe almost big enough to make something from, and a major purging of that stuff is on the books as part of the general drive to declutter the shop.


02-08-2005, 08:07 PM
McMaster-Carr has a fairly broad selection of materials including 12L14 and 4140,they also have pre-hardened B-7 4140 that is excellent for all sorts of things.

Thier prices ain't bad considering you can get pieces as sort as 12"

They also have material charts and heat treat info on line.

[This message has been edited by wierdscience (edited 02-08-2005).]

02-08-2005, 08:17 PM
They also have Stressproof 1144 that machines beautifully, and is only slightly more expensive than 1018. Try it, you'll like it.

[This message has been edited by JCHannum (edited 02-08-2005).]

02-08-2005, 09:17 PM
For nonwelded machined parts, hard to beat 1144 StressProof. Turns, bores & threads like butter, has strength approaching chromemoly.

I buy only what is needed for each job, + 10% extra "just in case". My supplier, a local welding/fabrication shop, can get most anything I need by the next day. Since he adds 35% to his cost, he's happy. Since I don't have to buy (and stock) $1000 worth of inventory, I'm happy.

Check around your area & you'll probably find someone just like this. Sure beats paying hefty UPS charges for delivery.

Barry Milton