Tools for less demanding uses, such as ordinary handtools, including hammers, chisels, files, mining bits, etc., are often made of standard AISI steels that are not considered as belonging to any of the tool steel categories.
The steel for most types of tools must be used in a heat-treated state, generally hardened and tempered, to provide the properties needed for the particular application. The adaptability to heat treatment with a minimurn of harmful effects, which dependably results in the intended beneficial changes in material properties, is still another requirement that tool steels must satisfy.
To meet such varied requirements, steel types of different chemical composition, often produced by special metallurgical processes, have been developed. Due to the large number of tool steel types produced by the steel mills, which generally are made available with proprietary designations, it is rather difficult for the user to select those types that are most suitable for any specific application, unless the recommendations of a particular steel producer or producers are obtained.
The Properties of Tool Steels.—Tool steels must possess certain properties to a higher than ordinary degree to make them adaptable for uses that require the ability to sustain heavy loads and perform dependably even under adverse conditions.
The extent and the types of loads, the characteristics of the operating conditions, and the expected performance with regard to both the duration and the level of consistency are theprincipal considerations, in combination with the aspects of cost, that govern the selection of tool steels for specific applications.
Although it is not possible to define and apply exact parameters for measuring significant tool steel characteristics, certain properties can be determined that may greatly assist in appraising the suitability of various types of tool steels for specific uses.