View Full Version : Steels for dies

01-27-2008, 12:12 AM
I ran into a guy today who has hundreds of pounds of steel for making dies. He wants it picked up and out of his life. It is some kind of oil hardening steel pre-D2, which is apparently his current favorite for whatever work he does.

He spoke fast and I was rushed also. I didn't catch the name he gave the steel. It was not numbers and letters, as with O1. It was a word, like a place name of family name. Does this ring any bells? If so does anyone use this stuff for anything? I have a few reamers I would like to make if only I could learn the process. Beyond that I am mostly a backyard blacksmith when it comes to converting metal into edges.

01-27-2008, 12:17 AM
if you're helping him out by hauling it off, can't he slow enough for you to write out the name? when you don't know what it is, its called mystery metal.....somethings thats ok but tool steel requiring heat treating would be one of those times you'd like to know what it is.

J Tiers
01-27-2008, 12:43 AM
Sounds like it might be one of the specialty company steels, like the Carpenter Steel Co (now Carpenter Technologies) names. Many companies had names instead of numbers, things like "Stentor" etc.

Carpenter seems to have NO cross-reference for their old names on the website, though. I have a book somewhere from them with a list of their old names, if that might help.

Here is a site with a list . They have the same list in a ".xls" file format


01-27-2008, 12:59 AM
Was it BRAKE DIE (http://www.diehlsteel.com/4140sbd.aspx) aka 4140PreHard? While not technically a tool steel, it is used in tooling. Great stuff, especially if it's ground stock.

Edit: I actually read the OP closer ans see it was more of a proper name. Some names from my Carpenter book:


01-27-2008, 01:14 AM
Some folks refer to "Sheffield Steel", which I beleive is the Old School name for O-1.


Charlie Rose
01-27-2008, 01:54 AM
Ok, hundreds of pounds you say? You did take him up on it didn't you? There are ways of finding out just what type of steel it is and with this much you could afford to have the lab work done,that way you know for sure what is what.
After you know what type it is you could "sell" some to your friends here.

01-27-2008, 02:48 AM
I am not sure I will take him up on it. That is like adding about 300 entries to my "to do, but not done list". Valuable stuff just keeps tumbling off dump-bound trucks around here. I can't possibly house it all. On the other hand there are some guys who became nationally known for their knifemaking after carting home similar stacks of material and becoming the world expert on a particular steel.

The guy has an accent, frankly not one that is normally foreign to my ears, and after asking 3 times, I kinda nodded and attempted an air of understanding. When I sort this out I will report back.

Your Old Dog
01-27-2008, 07:36 AM
The guy has an accent, frankly not one that is normally foreign to my ears, and after asking 3 times, I kinda nodded and attempted an air of understanding. When I sort this out I will report back.

I'm not even a blacksmith and I know what you mean! My hearing ain't what it used to be either :D :D

Spin Doctor
01-27-2008, 08:14 AM
If it turns out to be Hy-Ten M then it is L-6

01-27-2008, 08:56 AM
In just reading your post, I'd vote on "Sheffield" steel as well. Many of the "old time" tooling makers that I have worked with use that stuff silly.

As for picking it up or not, if I even think that I can use something I grab it. My theory is that I can always throw it away or sell it if I need to. And if I have to purchaes the stuff, then the price that I am willing to pay is contorlled by the fact that I might have to pick one of the above two removal methods. I have found that using this method gets me stuff that I can use cheap and keeps me from spending money on leftovers that I wont need.

Plus, you'd be amazed how many people will give up on trying to sell the thing and just give it to you. Now thats the stuff that I just cant give up! Ended up with a fantastic vise vesterday using that method. The gal got tired of tripping over it and told me to come get it before the scrapper did.


01-27-2008, 02:51 PM
With a UK background, and finding himself living in Canada, "Sheffield" would be a possibility. It just sounded more like it started with a W.

I think all these people who have this stuff they are giving away, started out like us thinking what a great deal it was, and then gradually worked their way down. A slow seeping away of life blood. If I had a lot of storage left I would take it but anything more I get affects my ability to use what I have.

Oh sure, I will probably take it if he still wants to give it away...

01-27-2008, 04:15 PM
That's what some of the old toolmakers I used to work with called 0-1.
Here's a guide with various tool steel names:

01-27-2008, 04:41 PM
The company a friend of mine worked for was closing their shop here in the SF Bay Area; there was literally thousands of pounds of die stock going into the scrap bin... my F250 was wallowing under the load :-). Almost all of it's gone to another friend who's starting a small specialty company developing ultralight backpacking gear; they've built lots of custom tooling using that material.

Having at least some storage space is key to making this sort of thing work.

01-27-2008, 08:54 PM
Well now I have to take the stuff if he is still tossing it, just to find out what it is called.

02-08-2008, 01:29 AM
Where are you? I want some. Peter

02-08-2008, 03:46 AM
O6 tool steel is one of the best die stocks and is also the most machinable tool steel. It has an excess of carbon that preciptates at the grain boundaries and acts as a lubricant when machining. It is rated at 125% machinability among the various tool steels. I can vouch for that as I bought a stick of half inch O6. Cost $2 per inch and that was a few years ago. Machines with a beautiful finish precisely to dimension as you can take a tiny thin skim cut without the tool skidding on the work.


He wouldn't have said "Latrobe Graph-Mo" would he? That's O6 tool steel.

From Matweb

Graph-Mo tool steel is an oil-hardening, graphitic tool steel with outstanding resistance to metal-to-metal sliding wear and galling. The steel contains a uniform dispersion of graphite particles which impart excellent machinability and non-seizing characteristics. The graphite particles make the steel self-lubricating in dry environments, and help to retain oil in lubricated environments. Graph-Mo tool steel can be hardened to over 60 Rockwell C from a relatively low hardening temperature, which minimizes size change and distortion during heat treatment. Typical applications include thread gauges, master gages, cams, bushings, sleeves, meat granulator plates, arbors, forming rolls, shear blades, punches, dies, bar feed guides and other machine tool parts.Information Provided by Timken Latrobe Steel.

02-08-2008, 09:14 AM
I think it is IDie-Ore, use a green wheel to cut it. Takes a real real long time to generate a form on any machine tool . GOOD LUCK! Spark test it with known material Air Die A2 , D2, Etc. will get you close.