View Full Version : Metal question ?

Chris Fazio
09-19-2002, 12:12 PM
I would like to buy some metal locally to avoid the shipping costs. Some of the people I've talked to have cold rolled steel, would this be 1018? Some have hot rolled steel, is this 1018 also? One place had something called A-36 which is what grade of steel? I can't find any information on this A-36 in any of my books.I'm not wild about the 1018 steel and would like to get something that machines to a nicer finish. I've used 1144 rod for some jobs I did on the lathe and it machines to a nice finish. Is 1144 made in square and rectangular shapes? If the cold rolled and hot rolled metals are 1018 would the hot rolled give you a better finish? I need some square and rectangular steel for some projects on the mill so tell me what you would recommend that would give a nice finish. These projects don't require super strength materials but this HSM does require a nice finish. Thank you all for the help.


09-19-2002, 01:20 PM
Hi Chris,

1018 is a low carbon cold rolled steel and yes it does not machine very nicely, although like any other steel griding and polishing will render a smooth mirror like finish http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//smile.gif

Never used 1144, but it should machine nicely since it has high sulphur content. I like using 12L14 which machines like butter. It comes in all shapes and sizes, although your local metal shop may not have everything in stock. 12L14 does not weld very well but no problem with brazing.

Never heard of A36. "A" denote air hardening tool steel.


Ragarsed Raglan
09-19-2002, 01:43 PM

Refering to my well thumbed British Steel Corporation 'World Iron & Steel Specifications' handbook i can see that the steels you mention are as follows:-

1018 (SAE & AISI #) 0.14/0.2Carbon, 0.6/0.9Manganese. Sulphur 0.05 max, Phosphorus 0.04 max.
Supplied in Plates, sections, sheet, bar, slabs, rod, and tube. This is listed as a 'carbon steel'

1144 (SAE & AISI #) 0.4/0.48 Carbon, 1.35/1.65 Manganese, 0.04 phosphor max, and 0.24/0.33 sulphur. A silicon content of around 0.25 - but possibly upto 0.6 can be specified within these steels which are listed as 'free cutting'. The supplied forms are as above but less the rod and tube.

The above data is taken from the SAE and AISI 1970 standards.

A-36 would appear to be an ASTM standard. It is listed as a 'Structural steel' available in Plate, Bars, and Shapes(!) Composition is given as 0.25/0.29 Carbon, 0.85/1.2 Manganese with trace P, S, and Si.
Its full spec is listed under A36-70a

For a good finish you need to look to a leaded free cutting steel such as SAE # 12L13 or 12L14

Hope this is of use, and more importantly I hope someone can confirm my handbook is still relevant!


Herb Helbig
09-19-2002, 03:20 PM
Albert -

I note your comment hat 12L14 comes in all shaes and sizes. My catalogs only list round and square stock. I'd be grateful to hear of sources for other forms. I like it!!!


John Foster
09-19-2002, 03:22 PM
Ragarsed is right on all counts. A-36 structural steel. Take a piece of angle iron and machine it and you will see it works a lot like 1018.
Go for 12L14 if at all possible. Cuts like brass, nice to work with. Metal Express (no connection)1-800-657-0721 sells a pack of 3' round, square and hex (19 pieces) for under $100 last time I ordered. John

09-19-2002, 05:40 PM
For odd size 12L14 I goto Metal Supermarket. They are expensive, but they'll bring anything in for you and the best part is no minimum order. They'll cut you a 2" length if that's all you need.

Is it just me or do others feel like you're cheating a little bit by using the 12xx or 11xx ?


09-19-2002, 06:46 PM
This is out of the McMAster-Carr catalog:

1018 Easy to cold form, bend, braze and weld. Max attainable hardness 72B, yield strenght 55,000 psi

A36 General purpose carbon steel suitable for welding and mechanical fastening. Max attainalbe hardness 68B, yield strength 36,000 psi

1144 medium carbon resulfurized steel with free machining qualities. Stress relieving allows it to obtain maximm ductility with minimum warping. Max attainable hardness 97B, yield strength 95,000 psi

12L14 low carbon steel with excellent machining characteristics and good ductility, easy to bend crimp and rivet. difficult to weld and can't be case hardened. Max attainable hardness 75-90B, yield 60-80,000 psi.

For more information on steel, you can go to www.ryersontull.com. (http://www.ryersontull.com.) They have a large section on steel properties.

As for the cold/hot rolled. From what I have read, cold rolled gives better grain structure and has a better as rolled surface finish. Hot rolled needs to be machined below the upper layer to get to the good steel.

Machinability according to McMAster (relative to 1212):
1018 78%
A36 not available
1144 75%
12L14 180%

RR, your numbers are correct.


09-19-2002, 07:09 PM
I'd avoid "generic" (typically 1018) hot-rolled and cold-rolled if possible. Its only saving grace is that it's cheap.

The Starrett 1018 low-carbon flat stock is pretty nice to work with, but I'm sure it has much better quality control than the general structural stuff.

I really like 1144 (Stressproof and Fatigueproof are two trademark varieties by LaSalle Steel). Machines to an excellent finish, and is strong.

As others have said, the leaded steels machine with an ease that is rather astounding, but in my experience they tend to rust easily, so now I tend to avoid them in favor of 1144.

Given the amount of work involved in making almost anything, I'm willing to pay a few extra bucks up front to get decent steel. After putting hours of time into something, the cost of the material becomes white noise.

Al Messer
09-20-2002, 12:01 AM
Sometimes a steel scrounger like me has to take what he can get. However, when I B-B-Buy steel, I prefer 4140 or some stuff I've forgotten the numbers, but it's used to make hydraulic rams---cuts clean and takes a beautiful finish, must have some chrome in it. A good local source is from a firm that rebuilds hydraulic rams and I visit them about twice a year and get to pick through their scrap heap!! Wonderful stuff!!

09-20-2002, 01:04 AM
Cnris, I try to avoid Hot Rolled Steel I
consider it just a little better than Rebar.
I have never had good experiences using HRS
for anything of quality. I may use HRS for
a table top or something non-critical.

09-20-2002, 01:44 AM
I have to agree with Al. I scrounge too. But I am not a cheap bastard when it is important (a girl has to have standards y'know). The Starrett Yellow Stripe really is free machining (like butter - and I have not yet color case hardened it yet). I have not tried their O-1 or A-2 since I can get this from several local suppliers. I have a customer that lets me dempster dive his scrap bin (Iconel 625, Hastelloy B & C, Waspalloy, Monel 400) for endcuts that would cost me $50+/inch at Metal Supermarket.

Chris Fazio
09-20-2002, 10:21 AM
I would like to thank everyone for your replies and the education. The participants of this forum provide a wealth of metalworking knowledge that is so valuable to us that are learning.

I looked in the MSC catalog for this "yellow stripe" material but didn't find it, does it have another designation?

Thanks again,

Al Messer
09-20-2002, 12:08 PM
Speaking of metal costs, when I was shopping for axle material for my loco, a place in the city quoted me a price of $28.00US for a 3' long section of 3/4" shafting, and I had to drive 60 miles round trip to get it. I was able to buy same size bar except it was precision ground from Travers' Tools for $9.00US. I always buy my O-1 from Travers'. Cuts well, have to keep tools very sharp, but it makes excellent "D" bits, pins, punches, rivet buckers, etc.

Have a good week-end, Folks!!

Ragarsed Raglan
09-20-2002, 01:00 PM

Thanks for restoring my faith in my book shelf! I pulled that gem of a handbook down (I'd almost forgotten I had it) when I first read the question. Good to know it's still relevant.


09-20-2002, 06:16 PM
Thrud can correct me if I'm wrong :-) but I assume by "yellow stripe" he means Starrett's low carbon flat stock (as opposed to their O-1 or A-2 or whatever).

09-20-2002, 08:37 PM
I am kind of partial to 11L17 or 1117 steel. It seems to do a better job than 1214 types.

If you want a challenge, use 41L40. Use with higher speeds than you might think, and higher feed rates. It cuts great with a min depth of cut of the insert nose rad +.001, and is pretty stable all said and done if you stress reliefe cut it first. I have had stress release problems in the past, but solved these by skin cutting the stock surfaces off, then working WITH the stress.

1018 is good for many things, including high impact items as a base metal for other tooling steels - such as in hydraulic press work . Finish is somewhat suspect as it is very sensitive to speeds and feeds. I have turned it quite nicely though.

09-21-2002, 12:06 AM
Chris, SGW
Yes, this is the low carbon (yellow stripe) as opposed to the Oil hardening (red stripe) or Air hardening (blue stipe). It can be case hardened easily.

J&L Industrial has a good materials section you may want to check out. www.jlindustrial.com (http://www.jlindustrial.com)