As the first post in the Punchcutting room, I thought I was a good idea to start with one of the first questions we have when attempting to cut punches by the first time: Which steel to use and where to buy it?
References from classic literature (Fournier and Moxon) seem to be too old to be useful and the steel that seems to have been preferred by punchcutters in the 19th and 20th century (Huntsman's Steel Yellow Label from Sheffield) is AFAIK not available anymore (I might be wrong).
The few modern punchcutters nowadays seem to be using a kind of steel usually referred to as "High carbon tool steel" either water or oil hardening (this seems not to be relevant, although I am not completely sure.)
After the advice of Bart Overeem, a Dutch metal engraver friend, I purchased steel bars from ABRAMS PREMIUM STEEL in Germany (http://www.premium-steel.eu)
. The exact kind was the following: PREMIUM DIN 1.2510 (It's 0.95% carbon Tool Steel oil Hardening).
Here I chose the steel bars:
This is a data sheet for 1.2510 tool steel:
The 500 mm bar was delivered very quickly from Germany to the Netherland and I chose to cut it in pieces myself because they charge about 10 Euros for this.
The steel comes annealed but I re-annealed anyway after reading Fournier and Moxon, trying to let the metal cool as slowly as possible inside a casing of fire bricks, covering the blank punches with ashes and embers.
I've been working a punch in this steel and I find it relatively easy to file. Graving is a much more challenging task, but consider I am just doing my fist steps and leaning how to sharp and use the gravers.
I haven't quenched it yet.
So, now, what steel are you using and where are you ordering it?