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I Forge Iron

H13 Punch Set

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I finished my treadle hammer in September and I soon realized that I need a set of punches to safely use with it. The tong punch set seems like a good idea. However, the sets cost too much for me to outright buy. However, they look pretty simple to make and I thought I would give it a try. Here is the progress so far on a set of H13 punches. They are still in the roughing stages, but before I do the final shaping and finishing, what shapes do you folks use most often? By the way, I will redo the chisel as it is a bit short. I experimented with it and the hardening tempering process.


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Greetings WD,


I normally make all my own punches ..  Butt I purchased a set of punches at SOFA from and nice young man very similar to the ones you are making..  I evaluated the amount of time it would take me to make this quality of tool and got my money out and paid the man..  The thing that sold me is that I can use them in my flypress as well as my treadle hammer...   Its a great design and will serve you well. 


Forge on and make beautiful things


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first nice looking punches you are on the right track. I would make a square punch and a slitter punch(round taper the flattened on 2 sides with the other edges rounded www.blacksmithsdepot.com/tong-slit-chisels.html . Go to blacksmith supply companies and see what they are selling there are many more choices. make the blanks then you can make more as you need different ones your collection will grow

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Nice looking tools!

Only thing I would add is make the shaft square and the tongs formed to grip the square. I have found the insert tools will move or turn with aggresive fullering and the square shaft gives much better control . I don't have any pictures of mine but if you look for Toby Hickman's video on youtube I believe he shows them.

Here is a link to Toby's video- 

At minute marker 10 is a set up like I'm talking about.

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Nice work, keep us updated.

I work with metal and deal with metal suppliers on a daily basis and keep very
close watch on material prices, even at my cost H13 is outrageous. It is a good choice
for your given application, the chromium and molybdenum content gives it excellent
abrasion resistance and hot work capabilities.
After doing some research ( I know I'm opening up a can of worms here, LOL) full
rockwell hardness of 23-28 on H13 cannot be achieved unless perfect conditions are met and one has the proper equipment to do so.
On the other hand 4142 might be a good alternative cost wise and the fact that full rockwell
hardness of 27 can be achieved by raising both materials to 1200 degrees. The cool down
soak and reheat on H13 is where it gets a little tricky.
Yes, with the 4142 material there may be a downside as to not having the "abrasion resistance " but let me say this,when I machine this material if you do not keep some
type of flood coolant going it will "work harden". When this happens a file won't even
touch it and you think you're dealing with H13.
So basically what I'm saying is, for the light user there are alternatives. Check out
John Crouchet's website (Texas wrought iron) see what he makes his tooling for his
fly presses out of.
Food for thought and my .02

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Square shaft punches, you know I thought about that but I decided to go with the rounds. I figured consistency with a metal lathe was more of a guarantee than trying to forge out 10 or more identical square shanked tools. I am not saying it can't be done, just this was the faster and easier method for me. Thanks for the suggestion, if I make another set I may try for square shanks, especially if I end up making a power hammer.


As far as the heat treat goes, I have tried a punch and a chisel with usable results. I followed the pre-heat, heat, quench, and temper information that I found online. The results seem to be okay and I am using a pyrometer for temps -not just eyeballs. However, I do not have a hardness tester to verify my actual results. From what I read about the heat treat process for H13 almost sound like alchemy compared to 4140.

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The square shank tools were suggested by Fe-Wood and the make sense as to having some advantages.

Francis I do have one question, have you ever forged H13? If you have I would love to hear some tips as to what works best. So far I have been just machining it to shape and that is working . However, if I forged some of the shapes it would be a little bit more economical. I do not have a fly press or a power hammer, just me. And the heat treat cycle is pretty specific so I am hoping to learn a bit more about the alloy before I try hot work it.

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Sure it forges real nice the key is to work in the proper temperature ranges I worked on my my first h-13 punch about 3 weeks ago my supplier had a scrap piece. Got it cheep so I have been using it, hardening is easy bring it up to temp and just let it air cool. I am ordering some w-2 to make some drifts because it is water hardened. With all the modern steels it is well worth spending the extra money to make a great tool

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I have worked a bit of H-13. I work it at a mid orange heat and as sson as it goes cherry red, I reheat. For the last heat, I take it to bright orange and let soak for a bit and set aside to cool. I'm only using H-13 for hand hammered tools. The insert tools I make for the power hammer are made from 4140. Itry to make them a touch softer then the hammer dies so if I miss I don't mar the dies...



Have you tried S-7 for your drifts? I don't know how it compares to w-2 but in he forging and heat treating area it is much like H-13

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1 key to remember in making H13 tooling for your power hammer is that you want to make the struck end of tools softer than your top die. The critiacal temp for  H13 is 1850 f if I remember correctly. an air quench at just reaching nonmagnetic will not be really hard. A tempering heat of 900 will make your tool harder than a slightly cooler heat.

   All this means that if you can get the working end of your tool 1850 just as the struck end gets to nonmagnetic you can air quench and have a useable tool.  another plan would to be get the struck end to nonmagnetic after hardening the whole tool without getting the working end above 1000. Other wise some combonation that is similar should work. This all wants to happen after you have slow cooled the tool.

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