I need to make very specific blade for a wood working project, and it requires I hone an edge on a piece of tool steel.

Naturally, no store near me sells "tool steel", but some home supply stores sell sheets of fairly thick steel plate.

What's the difference between that and proper tool steel?

If I grind an edge on a piece of steel plate, and then anneal it to harden the edge, would that be sufficient for wood working, or would the alloy simply not be appropriate?

  • $\begingroup$ toolsteel can be harddened with heat treatment. Mild steel can generally not it is possible unless you change carbon content of the steel. See this video. That said there is allmost certainly a supplier that works locally. They are often a bit invisible to laymen. But considering there is nearly no industry without one it seems inplausible that unless you live in middle of truly nothing. You can also repurpose an existing chisel $\endgroup$
    – joojaa
    Aug 27, 2023 at 7:06
  • $\begingroup$ just a thought ... maybe a high grade bolt can be used as a source of the steel $\endgroup$
    – jsotola
    Aug 27, 2023 at 20:07

2 Answers 2


Tool steel is hard so it keeps its edge.

How “hard” steel is made is due to what is added during the production process.

The Allied prisoners in some German camps made wire cutters from the “soft” metal used in the roof ties - imagine 1/2” bar 1/8” thick. They shaped it then heated the cutting edges and then added sugar for the carbon. Maybe won’t last for years but once it had cut 6 wires it had served its purpose.

Suggest you find a steel supplier and they will have what you need, but they have a minimum quantity. So go to a machine shop and see if they can help.


Sheet steel is formulated and processed so it can be cut, bent, formed, punched, filed, stamped, drilled, hammered and sheared into useful shapes. Its chemical composition and heat processing are chosen to leave it both soft and malleable. If you form a sharp edge out of a piece of ordinary steel and use it to cut (for example) cardboard, it quickly becomes dull because the sharp edge gets smoothed down.

Tool steel contains alloying agents which render it nearly impossible to deform even when it is red-hot. If you give it a sharp edge, it remains sharp for a very long time because the the sharp edge is resistant to getting worn down.

This means that all the tools and machinery used to work with ordinary steel is made out of tool steel!


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