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Need advice to make a die


Sep 14, 2008
Good to post your location in your profile as that may help in the way members answer your posts.
I used to make cutters with drill rod to cherry and low red and then quench.

I think drill rod and silver steel are the same things and they get through hard/ not case hard.
But there are different kinds of drill rod, air , oil and water hardning. A-2, 01 and W-1 and perhaps other kinds..

Silver Steel is a UK description, evidently out in the colonies it's likely the same stuff


Sep 14, 2008
Hey team.
I know it's been a while.
Finding most tool steels is a nightmare here in Aus.
I am wondering if 1045, 5160 or H13 will polish as well and be die-worthy for bullet swaging, I need to make sure it's a polished as possible, I think D2 wont polish as well as the others. Thanks team :)

Which would imply that there aren't any toolmakers in OZ which I find hard to believe.

Talk to a local OZ engineering firms purchaser and ask if he's willing to tell you where they would source toolsteel from.

I found this place, they only have toolsteel in sizes that probabaly don't work for you, but they may know somebody who does
then there's these people

Look for OZ forum member John K, he's probabaly got some toolsteel in his shed.


Aug 19, 2021
Progress is slow but good.
I found a distributor of round bar and have it coming in O-1.. 125 bucks a meter… ouch.

So we have now managed to Find an EDM guy willing to help give this a go, just waiting on the O-1 to arrive. I’ll be making some D-Bit cutters incase the EDM has problems. I’ll report back if it all goes to poop.

I’ve been messing around with punches now and I need to make a form tool for lapping in the punches. They are a simple angle of 6mm round to 4mm face inside. I have a 2 flute end mill ground to a 14 degree angle but the hole is pretty messy.
I’ll attempt to make my own Dbit cutter for it when the O-1 arrives.

Basically a blind hole 3.5 mm deep but with an angle.

Is it better to use a soft metal like brass or even the same steel in its unhardened state as a lap and turn it on the lathe? I plan to use lapping compound, then finer diamond compound to get this to go? Sound like a plan?


Jun 23, 2002
Vancouver BC Canada
Hi again Lplates:
You wrote:
"Is it better to use a soft metal like brass or even the same steel in its unhardened state as a lap and turn it on the lathe?"

No no NO...you will fuck up your cavities if you try to do this.
It's a bad idea.
It's a dumb idea.
I know, it sounds like an obvious solution but it's not.
Re-read my past posts on why it's all those bad things I just said.

If you want to power polish these, you need to start with a soft abrasive stone that mold polishers use.
Gesswein is a popular brand.
Shape the stone on a bench grinder so it'll fit into the hole with lots of room. (They are soft and grind easily)
Run the cavity block in the lathe at very slow speed.
Use stoning oil or Relton A-9, make the cavity and the stone sloppy wet and stroke the stone back and forth against the cavity wall while the part is spinning.
The biggest sin is to scratch rings into the cavity walls.
When you get up to a 600 grit stone, you can start to polish with rubber Cratex or Shofu wheels in a Foredom or other rotating handpiece.
You can finish with felt bobs and diamond paste, either rotating or not, depending on how risk embracing or risk averse you are.

If you have big balls you can use an MX wheel (abrasive impregnated muslin rotating in the handpiece) in place of the stones.
These cut aggressively and will fuck up the job in a heartbeat so be very careful and practice on scrap first.
They can also be shaped by running them against a rotating bench grinding wheel.
Note you are NOT trying to make the MX wheel mimic the contour of the cavity...you want it much smaller so you can contact the cavity wall in a narrow band that you manipulate back and forth with the Foredom...continuously moving all over the cavity wall while it's spinning slowly to dress all of it.

This advice comes from a lifetime spent building injection molds with polished cavities...everybody that does this for a living will understand immediately what I'm talking about.




Nov 5, 2014
Tampa area
"silver steel" (115crv3/1.2210) is an excellent choise, it machines well, is tough and hard (up to 60 hrc). w5 would be the closest, i guess.

drill rod can be any tool steel and d2 is an abrasion resistant, ledeburitic monster, difficult to heattreat, huge fe-cr-carbides and needs diamond to finish. calling it tough is quite weird. not at 60+ hrc for sure.
You most certainly don't need diamond to finish, sure will last longer than coated carbide, but carbide will do it.


Feb 22, 2010
i was exagerating a bit to make a point but was thinking rather about grinding/polishing. sure, d2 gets ground with aluminum oxide (with mixed rerults →burn) but e.g. to put a decent edge on a knife you need diamond. those (cr/v)7c3 carbides are up to 2000 hv.
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