Authoritative Answers, Fun, & Aloha -- no cost, no passwords, no popups
(as an eBay Partner & Amazon Affiliate we earn from qualifying purchases)

Home /
Site 🔍
pub     mobile?
Metal finishing Q&As since 1989


Using 17-4 PH stainless steel for wood lathe turning tools

Hi. I picked up some round stock 17-4 PH stainless steel recently and was wondering if it might be suitable for making wood turning chisels or, if not, if it might be suitable for hand woodworking gouges. I stumbled on a thread here during an internet search so I hope this is an appropriate question to ask here. Thank you. Laurie

Laurie h [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
artist, hobbyist - Fenton, MI USA

Howdy neighbor :)
My charts say 17-4 PH only has about .04% carbon. not enough to harden for chisel usage...probably better suited as a spoon or something.

If you want to make your own chisels maybe try M2,A2,D2,O1. all are available in our area and will hold a good edge. D2 is getting close to being stainless but not quite enough chromium.

You can order any of these steels online, or get them locally..look up "steel suppliers" in yellow pages and it will list a few places, personally I go with Taylor Steel.

Not sure how much you know about metallurgy will have to have the steel heat treated to make it function properly.

Jason Aube
- Flint, Michigan

Hi Laurie!
Assuming the 17-4 is in the very common solution treated condition ("Condition A") when it's heated to about 900 F for an hour it should increase it's hardness to the low to mid Rockwell C 40's. That's reasonably hard, and should cut wood OK. It won't take a pounding without deforming, so maybe a chisel is not optimum, but it should cut. However, it won't be nearly as hard as the tool steels that Jason suggests. Those, when properly treated, will get into the Rockwell C 60's, and would be able to slice into the 17-4. They will also take hammering without deformation.

lee gearhart
Lee Gearhart
metallurgist - E. Aurora, New York

Thank you both for the helpful advise. I'll find another use for this stainless steel. I do have some 0-1 steel. I've been reading a bit about heat treating but need to experiment (and get a torch).

Laurie H [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Fenton, Michigan, USA

April 13, 2008

17-4 is a precipitation hardening steel. It can be made very hard about Rc 64 but does require an extended period at the hardening temperature.

High end Chef's knives are made of 17-4. The heat treatment is beyond a home shop though. Stainless 404 or 440 harden well for use as tools, If I were making tools at home I would be using a carbon steel such as 4040.

Steel machining and smithing is a specialist thing. You might be better advised to get something that is most of the way there and do your own handle and sharpening to finish it off

Stephen Barrett
- Adelaide, South Australia, Australia

(No "dead threads" here! If this page isn't currently on the Hotline your Q, A, or Comment will restore it)

Q, A, or Comment on THIS thread -or- Start a NEW Thread

Disclaimer: It's not possible to fully diagnose a finishing problem or the hazards of an operation via these pages. All information presented is for general reference and does not represent a professional opinion nor the policy of an author's employer. The internet is largely anonymous & unvetted; some names may be fictitious and some recommendations might be harmful.

If you are seeking a product or service related to metal finishing, please check these Directories:

Chemicals &
& Software

About/Contact  -  Privacy Policy  -  ©1995-2024, Pine Beach, New Jersey, USA  -  about "affil links"