Starrett Tools


Making and Using Handtools


Points for Buyers and Users of Tool Steel by George A. Alling, 1903


Primarily this work is designed for those who have not had the benefit of a technical education so as to enable them to extract from the numerous books that have been written on this subject the information which we have attempted to give in plainer language.

At the same time it is possible that the college graduate may find some points herein, which may be of use to him in actual shop practice that may have been omitted in the existing books, under the impression that they were of minor importance.

No attempt has been made to contradict any of the many theories laid down by the numerous writers who have written on this subject, some of which doubtless have merit.

In short every effort has been made to employ plain language and simple descriptions, such as are best appreciated by practical mechanics, and such as can be readily applied by practical men in ordinary shops not equipped with all modern appliances, under the direction of a technically educated superintendent or master mechanic.

It is presumed that the average consumer of tool steel is most interested in obtaining results in the simplest and cheapest way, and that he will be glad to secure a work that will be easily understood by the workman on whom he depends to produce these results. To this end the very confusing remarks and tables about percentages of carbon for this and that sort of tool, which some are so fond of indulging in, and which are often very misleading and unreliable, have been omitted.

A little thought on the part of the reader will convince him that it is among the impossibilities to establish fixed rules for amounts of carbon for certain kinds of tools, when the fact is taken into consideration that this amount may be combined with many different kinds of iron of varying quality, may be subjected to many kinds of treatment in making the steel, and to many more kinds of treatment in producing the tool at the hands of the various men who make them.


The views expressed about hardening, and the various methods used, may perhaps be slightly tinged with the writer's personal views, but these have been frequently confirmed by observation as well as by the testimony of first-rate mechanics.  If they are found in some respects erroneous, it is hoped that they will be overlooked as only general rules are described.


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