Recommended Posts

A while ago i got a reply to a post on youtube regarding use of various steel types for making hot working tools vs use of hot working steels.

 As far as i knowsteels lile H13 need a HT procedure which is not as simple as those needed in case of spring steels for instance.

 5160 is a very decent blacksmith tools steel, punches and stuff like that are very usable with minimum maintainance when used properly (not overheat them too much, decent need for dressing from time to time, etc.)

 Making a tool in few minutes, heat treating in the forge using minimum required tools (HT ovens and stuff) represent huge advantages imho.

 So, the fellow blacksmith said H13 is not far from such simple steels, is cheap and readly available everywhere (in the US but it's similar steel 1.2344).

 Ok, everything fine by now, is indeed available in Europe too and tne price is ok, i checked.

 What itrigued me was his oppinion that H13 is, qoute, "very forgiving in terms of heat treatment, and tools made out of it perform much better and last forever with minimal maintenance."

My guess makes me to agree with the lasting loger with minimal performante thing , what i do not know is how true is the first half of the quote, "very forgiving"....

 So my question is  if you guys use H13 and how exactly do you heat treat the tools make from this type of steel?

Is it "forgiving" that meaning a simple HT using a forge and common sense is enough?

How about cooling the tool? being an air hardening type of steel, how it behave during use, how hot is too hot, can it be cooled in water, wax or other stuff, is better to use few similar tools alternating use with cooling periods , etc?

 Some time ago i was looking for special steels fit for the job and H13 was one of them, i dropped the idea of using it based only on reading heat treatment instructions which to me were not simple and looked like anything but a very friendly steel for the blacksmith who makes his own tools in his simple shop.

thanks a lot for your time ;)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I use H13 all the time for hot work tools.  I either forge to shape or machine in the annealed condition (depends on the final use).  For heat treating, I bring to a bright orange color (about 1800 F) by visual judgment and bury in wood ashes or vermiculite to allow slow cooling to room temperature.  This step is only done when I forge to shape - it can be skipped if the tool is machined.

 

The tool is then reheated to bright orange and allowed to air cool, followed by a tempering step at about 1000 degrees.  H13 will thru-harden up to 5" of cross section in still air so it would be a large tool that would require quenching.

 

Chisels can be water quenched in use and the steel will hold its shape better than other plain steels.  S7 is also a good steel for hot work but can sometimes spall on the struck end - I have never had H13 shatter, it will deform before breaking but still manages to hold up well when hot.

 

I have been preaching the use of H13 for almost 30 years so I'm a big believer in it for hot work chisels or punches and believe it is one of the best all around tool steels for the blacksmith.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I use the heat treating method Grant posted on Keenjunk many years ago.  Heat it to yellow and let cool in air, if it is not really thin I either wave around or put in front of a fan.   Once it is cool enough to touch I temper it to where you can just barely see a red tinge when held in the shadows (under the forge or in the dark corner of the shop).  H13 is odd in that it actually gets harder with that temper.   I never bother with any sort of normalizing.  I cool it in water in use as long as it is not hot enough to have colour in it.  I have found that it is often hard enough for hot work without the tempering but it can also be used for cold work as well if tempered. 

 

The heat treaters guide calls for Austenitizing at 1825-1905 but calls for soaking.  The higher temperature helps to compensate for the lack of soaking.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Maybe I'm doing it all wrong but when I make hot work tools from H13 I forge finish and forget about it. The hacks and hot cuts very often get red hot while in use and when they cool they're still hard and show very little wear.....I love the stuff.......BTW, the same does hold true when making say, PH dies after machining, I've made some but I sent them out for heat treating....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This very item came up in another thread recently. When you heat metal up and cool it slowly in ashes or any other medium it is not normalizing, it. if done correctly is annealing.

What you  do may work well with your process for this steel in the manner you described. I just point this out as for new folks trying to absorb heat treat methods and terminology will do so faster if we post correctly.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This very item came up in another thread recently. When you heat metal up and cool it slowly in ashes or any other medium it is not normalizing, it. if done correctly is annealing.

What you  do may work well with your process for this steel in the manner you described. I just point this out as for new folks trying to absorb heat treat methods and terminology will do so faster if we post correctly.

OK, point taken - I removed the term 'normalizing'.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There is an advantage to soaking. The tool goes from "good" to "great." If you know anyone with a kiln, and if you can wait for the tool, it will be worth it to work out a deal.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Grant recommended heating to 1950, soak 45min-1 hr depending on thickness, then quench in OIL. Draw temper at 1000 for an hr. If you look at the manufacturers graphs, H13 actually gets harder at 1000 deg. I have been using this and it is as Grant said for H13.

John

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for the imput guys. Seems like the "truth" is in the middle as far as i understand it.

 While "by the book" HT procedure seem to produce the best results looks like even a simple HT approach in the average blacksmith shop CAN provide a good enough tool, better than using less suitable type of steel.

Worth paying more for the steel and not get the whole amount of benefit from it? That is a question each one should answer for itself, what i have learned from this topic is "it worth give it a try"...  Is a step forward compared to "erase 1.2344 from my usefull steels list";)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree soaking at heat is better and following the proper HT methods will give you best results.  Which is why for work that is going to customers I often send work to a HT shop.  They have huge salt pots and vacuum furnaces and can  prevent the  decarb that can come with long soaking at high temperatures

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If you wrap your H13 in HT stainless foil and put a small piece of paper in the package you can prevent the decarb.  The paper chars and consumes the oxygen.  The foil is pricy but if you're carfull with it it can be reused several times.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Grant recommended heating to 1950, soak 45min-1 hr depending on thickness, then quench in OIL. Draw temper at 1000 for an hr. If you look at the manufacturers graphs, H13 actually gets harder at 1000 deg. I have been using this and it is as Grant said for H13.

John

I do remember Grant recommending that method for your hammer punches but had forgotten it.  i know the he recommended a fan many years ago on Keenjunk,  i will have to try oil next time I use some H13. 

 

I did just find this thread which has a lot of good info.  http://www.iforgeiron.com/topic/17430-h13-question/

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Grants method is bang on as far as the ASM heat treaters guide is concerned.

and works well for punches and slitters as long as you are not getting them past dull red heat. I bought a big load of H15 offcuts and it is now my go to steel for hot work tools.

 I use en45 (high silicone 5160) for very long thin punches as it is harder when red to orange and will retain shape integrity, you have to run multiple punches as you run the risk of hardening it when you cool it down.

 Both H13 and en45 have high austenising temps which reduce the likelihood of the punch being accidentally hardened when cooling it down.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes,  H13 belongs to hot work mold steel, it used as the material in the mold base industry.

off site sales links removed

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.