View Full Version : Material Selection

Robert Burch
11-20-2001, 11:08 AM
I am interested in making tooling for either a lathe or a mill. What would be a good type of steel to use? I am looking for something with decent wear properties, better than plain CRS without needing heat treatment. Hopefully also it would be relatively easy to machine. Would either 1045 or 1144 be adequate? Any other types? I usually buy from a salvage dealer so I cannot always pick and choose exactly one type.

11-20-2001, 03:34 PM
I think you're smart to look for something other than garden-variety CRS. Wear qualities aside, I hate the way the stuff machines.

I've been using some LaSalle "FatigueProof" steel for various small projects, and I like it a lot. It's very strong and machines quite well to an excellent finish. "Stressproof" is very similar. I think 1144 may be the generic designation for the Stressproof alloy; "Stressproof" is, I think, just LaSalle's trademark for the way they make it.

I've also tried some 4140 and found it not to be as bad to machine as I expected, but I'd probably try the 1144 first.

11-21-2001, 03:48 AM

Most of the insert tooling shanks are 4140 machined, case hardened, and blued/blackened. I am sure 4130 would work as well.


Robert Burch
11-21-2001, 07:18 AM
Thanks for the replies. I have used the 1144 once to build a cannon barrel. It was recommended by the salvage dealer. It machined pretty nice. I used a small bench belt sander held in the hands to polish the barrel and it came out beautiful. I am now using 1045 and it seems to machine nicely. Will have to give 41XX a try. We'll see what the dealer has in stock. All of my projects are for hobby use and don't see much rough service.

11-21-2001, 12:59 PM
Nothing at all wrong with 1045. Good medium strenth steel, machines right nicely.

Most brazed carbide is sitting on a chunk of 1045.

Don't know what the Chinese use for this purpose, some aren't quite as strong in the shank department as they might ought to be.

My old boss used to say, 1045 helped win WW2, made good drill bushings, heat red hot, drop in water. Surface hardens OK, doesn't harden to good depth.

11-21-2001, 11:33 PM

A great source of good steel is Cummins wristpins from the big, ugly, oil slobbering end of the family. Sure, they are hardened, but a negative rake carbide bit cuts the case off pretty quick...

And usually free...


11-22-2001, 11:58 PM
Killer steel, 52100, what they make Timkin tatered roller bearings out of.

I used to make some press tools out of it for a local pump rebuilder, no heat treat. Mean to work, forget about welding it. Would make great boring bars and such if you could get it machined. Our local scrap metal dealer gets this stuff in sometimes, they also have had 4140L, and 4820? The Cummins wrist pins are probably something like 4820 with a good deep case hardening. Or is it 8620, Oh memory, where art thou. Been enjoying that new for me, movie, Oh Brother Where Art Thou, one I'll recommend to anyone.

Many different flavors of steel, each application calls for different qualities, and each steel has similar but slightly different charactaristics. Best kind is often the one one has at hand, yep, just what I wanted.

11-23-2001, 12:22 PM
BTW, does anyone know about the composition/properties of train rails; I mean the real ones ;-)
I found a couple of suppliers that recycle rails, but there is no info on composition, etc.

11-23-2001, 04:31 PM
i know that they will harden ......my little pounding rail rings/bounces like my big anvils hardened face .....would guess 1045?????must be economic considerations on alloying elements..
best wishes

11-24-2001, 05:03 AM

I think they use 4130 because it can be hardened and still take the pounding the heavy trains dish out. By the way, rails in Canada are several miles long now - harder to steal I hear...


11-24-2001, 06:36 PM
You can't go wrong with 4140. It's easy to get, good to machine and strong as hell. I make all my tools from that, bars, end mill holders and whatever. I get the ground finished stock from our local Metal Supermarket. Not cheap as a scrap yard but you know what you get most of the time.