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Screwdriver Materials Advice

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I am looking to cut my teeth on making some household tools, starting with a simple flathead screwdriver. I was considering getting some tool steel rods as the material (O1 or S7), but I was just wondering if it's strictly necessary and worth it to use fancy steels. Would mild (1018) work for a screwdriver head just as well? I have gone and searched for information on what material is used in professional (ie, craftsman, ect) and searched the forum to no avail. Just looking for opinions/advice.

Thanks for looking!

Carpe Frigus Finem!

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S7 would be ridiculous for a screw driver  as would 1018.  Such tools are generally made from a medium carbon steel and heat treated for toughness; so perhaps a 4140 or 4340.  If I was making one I would use automotive coil spring (often 5160) and temper way back. You want the failure mode to be bending rather than breaking---right? Car axle would be ok too; but too much work to get it down to screwdriver size.

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8 minutes ago, ThomasPowers said:

but too much work to get it down to screwdriver size.

Ugh. Every time this comes up I start to picture making a giant tool. Like for this a giant screw driver...Could carve a big log for the handle. :rolleyes:

Even the big name tool companies can mess up heat treat on batches. Had one phillips head screw driver tip fracture off when barely applying force. (Warranted obviously), the tool dealer said he had a lot of the same ones do that. Onthe other hand if its too soft it will twist or bend or just wear round. So you want hardness but also it needs tempered back so its not brittle. Thomas's suggestion of coil spring sounds good. Getting new known steel will eliminate a bit of guess work and the sometimes possible failures assosiated with used material. 

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I'll leave the material choice to others but this could actually be a great project--Copying the old school screwdriver style that was used before dirt-cheap and machine-assembled were the orders of the day.  Those can be a thing of beauty...and the old style handles are so darned comfortable and nice to use.  I have a couple that are close to the lighter-handled one in the middle:  I'd grab those any day over a modern one. (photo from the internet, not my collection)

1024px-Screwdrivers_WPC.jpg

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Mild CAN work but now well nor for long, it's what we made them from in metal shop 1 in Jr. high. Coil spring, 4140 or something in the range of 1050 - 1060 are good stock for hand tools like screw drivers. 

A screw driver is easy if you draw the blade longitudinally on the horn. Let it widen in a flat taper. Grind or hot rasp to finish profile. Do NOT try to forge the blade to finished shape, it's a lot more work and not as good.

Leave Philips or Reed and Prince drivers for later, they are NOT beginner's projects. If you just have to; use die maker's files, it's a PITA but isn't an advanced skill.

Frosty The Lucky.

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I mean, I do not have any Latin schooling, but google makes that look funny vs. Carpe Frigus Finem.

 

XD

 

 

image.png.13d486974063fa952db5041439d7b30d.png

VS

image.png.90aa1b348d033092aeb58dc37da567c1.png

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Depending on degree of use and size, O1 (also known in the UK as silver steel) is my preferred choice for beginers and on, It can be purchased in short lengths (12" or 36") in ground finish round bars,

Heat treatment is straightforward, and predictable, especially if making item for a client.

I have sometimes made them from "mild steel" and case hardened them.

 

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It's kind of a waste of money to use any kind of alloy steel until you have learned how to forge a piece of steel to the shape you are trying to make. 

So I would probably stick to plain mild steel (1018 steel in the United States) to practice on. 

If you want to practice with alloy steels and make a hard-enable screw driver/punch/chisel/etc/etc then you could see if you can get some discarded automobile coil springs. Repair shops frequently throw them away.

WARNING. If the spring is still attached to the shock absorber or strut then don't try to disassemble it yourself. It's under a lot or pressure and dangerous to disassemble . Ask the repair shop to disassemble it for you. 

Then just cut off a piece about the size you need, heat it and forge away. 

Rebar is too unpredictable in composition so stay away from it. 

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I too saw your sign in profile said “newbie”, so you are either new to the sport or just new here. Fine advice has been given so far. I happened to notice on some replaceable screwdriver bits that they were marked S1.

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I have noticed that new folk tend to think "scrap"  comes neatly marked as to alloy or that that a wide range of Manufacturers over more than a century all around the world only have used one specific alloy for an item.  Crusty old smiths on the other hand tend not totally believe alloy markings even when delivered as new stock from the Steel Maker---having been bit by "mis-shipments in the past".  The 300 year old smithing references that tell you to Test each new metal buy still unfortunately hold true.

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