metal materials Q. from a wood guy

I am looking to make some tools for my use in the woodshop.

The description says the material to be ground to shape is
1" dia., 3/4" dia. & 5/8"dia. 4140 “pre-hardened” steel rod
and 1/2" square tool steel.
Pieces are 14" - 18" long (depending on the tool in question).

Do we have such stuff?

Where to get it?

Separately, it is recommended that the wooden handles (2"dia. x 12-24" long)
have ferrules. (don’t want them splitting out the metal rod under use!)

How does one make a metal ferrule for a 2" dia. handle?

I have not seen such stock at the hive, but it could be hiding from me.

Where to get it is the golden question. If you need small amounts there is a place in Blue Ash called American Metal Supply. They have a scrap rack that you might get lucky with. Otherwise you need to buy a lot.

As for ferrules, most of the handles I've seen or helped make have a taper at the end of the handle. So the small set of tools we made had ferrules that were short sections of 3/4" copper pipe. We could have gotten away with 5/8" pipe, but we had the 3/4" sitting around.

So that is the cheapest most effective ferrule material.

If you are making woodturning tools, the first one I made when I got my lathe at home was a thin parting tool. Grab a used sawzaw blade, grind the teeth the rest of the way off, then grind an edge on the front, drill 2 holes in it and slap a wood handle on it. 10 minutes of work and it cuts like a dream.

Oh heck. I have a friend who literally has a very large pile of very large hss tool blanks he was given from a factory foreman on the changeover to brazed and insert tools. They are rusty as all heck from sitting in a barn… but hey, I could likely get a bundle of em because he’d like to see them get some use. Dunno on the 4140… or if it is for lathe tools, really needed for a handle. I’ll see what I can do.

Thanks for both ideas! I’ll check with AMS & look into pipe for the ferrules.

I’m looking for a 1/2" x 1/2" square “rod” 14" long or so.

If that’s available, I could use that.
Let me know & thanks.

4140 is a heat-treatable tool steel. Plain 4140 would be somewhat softer. One hardens it by austenatizing – heat it to RED hot (1500 F) with an oxy torch or forge and then quench. Follow with an annealing to 800F or so. The crystals bond up and make it real hard.

Pre-hardened would already be heat treated in this way. It’s find for grinding operations, but doesn’t machine well and can fracture if not annealed perfectly. I usually like machining, then heat treating, then grinding.

I’m not sure what you’re making, but this steel would probably be good for grinding and sawing into shape / edge. It will work-harden as you go and get even tougher…

We don’t have steel like this around. We also don’t have an oxy-torch or forge for heat treating.

Okay, too much, I know. I spent more than a month messing with hardening and annealing different tool steels over and over again. If I can find them I now have some indestructible custom riveters and other tools I made for building custom steam boilers. Haven’t had a steam explosion yet, so I guess I figured it out okay.


grinding the end of a 4140 rod to a smooth, rounded shape is all I need to do

no sharp edges, it’s used for burnishing a hardwood turning

since we’re talking about alloys, Am. Metal Supplies seems only to list 4150 - would this be comparable tp 4140?



You could use 4150 or you could use an A5 or A6 tool steel (aka cold working drill rod). 4150 is higher carbon than 4140, and has a tiny bit more “give” to it.

A5 and A6 are easily 2x as hard as both of those. Grinding shouldn’t be a problem, but it’s slower going. A5, A6 tend to “work harden”, so they will get harder as they are ground, sand-blasted, etc. By the end of finishing, you have a nice super hard tool. If it hardens up quickly, you can anneal it with a propane or map torch by heating to 800F or so (straw yellow) and air cooling. That won’t really be necessary, though for a simple ground tool.

Any of those would work. I have burnishing tools I made with A5 because I had it readily available. Probably the choice of 4140 or 4150 is equally as arbitrary. Just don’t get a lump of hot-rolled mild steel and you’ll be fine. Probably 4140 was selected simply because it’s easy enough to work and was on hand. A5 / A6 is a good choice, but more elbow grease. Either way.



Thanks for the info!

At least I can ask the instructor some intelligent questions now!


I did acquire some blanks. The fellow who gave them to me is pretty much not willing to part with more. Ah well. Likely a holder would need be fabbed, I was thinking opposing profiles, rh round/lh round, rh60 degree/lh 60 degree.round nose/point. They are 3/4 and about 5 inches long. I have 5 of em.

I also found a link to a gripper page, basically you can buy hss chunks, and carbide chunks with a hole in them for a screw. if you made a holder, then you could sharpen the gripper to whatever profile you could fit on it, and not need to buy 50 bucks worth of hss blank. A holder would be a pretty simple milling project.

Ah well.

Thanks for looking & for the info!

Unfortunately, the bars need to be 14-18" long for this project.