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I Forge Iron

Lock Washers

Randy Griffin

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I see them at the scrap yard all the time but never looked twice. I just watched a video making a scribe from a lock washer. He quenched in oil. What steel are they? I searched and some lead me toward air hardening steel but is that so with all or is it like other things and could be anything. If so would be good for tools.

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Remember a number of alloys will air harden in small cross sections where they generally harden in oil in heavier pieces.

As true air hardening steels tend to be more expensive I do not believe that they would be used for lock washers.

Are all lock washers made by a single company that hasn't changed any of their processes in about 100 years?

Junkyard rules apply: Test before you use!

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 I cannot say what all companies make them from but where we get ours depends on application as to the material they are made. But where we get them they are generally* made of either 1050, 400 series or 300 series stainless. Again though as Thomas says this can change from company to company, when the washer was made, and like i said application. They also come in bronze, brass and aluminum but you are wanting to forge them so that is neither here nor there. 

* we can special order other washers in different materials but unless absolutely critical dont becuase of price difference. 

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ASME B18.21.1 governs the US standards for washers; section 2.3.1 (Material Composition: Helical Spring-Lock Washers) reads thus:


Washers shall be made from material meeting the chemical composition requirements of one of the following standards:

(a) Carbon Steel. SAE J403 1055–1065 (UNS G10550– G10650).
(b) Boron Steel. SAE J411 10B55–10B65.
(c) Stainless Steel. SAE J405 302–305 (UNS S30200– S30500) or SAE J405 316 (UNS S31600).
(d) Aluminum Alloy. ASTM B 211, Alloy 7075 (UNS A97075).
(e) Phosphor-Bronze. ASTM B 159, Copper Alloy No. 510 (UNS C51000).
(f) Silicon-Bronze. ASTM B 99, Copper Alloy No. 651 or 655 (UNS C65100 or C65500).
(g) Nickel-Copper-Aluminum. Federal Specification QQ-N-286 (UNS N05500).
(h) Alloy Steel. SAE J404 4037 (UNS G40370) or other alloy steel having at least 0.35% carbon.

Other materials and grades shall be as agreed upon by the supplier and purchaser.

This obviously does not address older washers made under earlier versions of the standard or cheap consumer-grade washers that aren't made to any standard at all.

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