Silver steel is commonly known as tool steel in the United Kingdom. It is supplied in round bars, sometimes called tool blanks, and is comparable to drill rods in the United States. The word silver refers to the color of the metal, not the composition. This metal is actually composed of carbon, manganese, chromium, silicon, phosphorus, and sulfur.
Manufacturing silver steel can be accomplished through two different methods. The traditional crucible method involves melting crushed ores together in a crucible and then casting the molten metal in ingots for further shaping. The powder method uses elemental powders which are melted and then flash frozen into ingots of pure metal. The ingots are then subjected to a cold welding process and passed along for shaping. The end process of both methods involves the use of rollers and high temperature forging to form the metal into the desired size and shape for tool blanks.
Annealed silver steel has a hardness of 27 on the Rockwell scale of hardness (RHC). Using various metal working processes, this alloy is capable of being hardened to 64 RHC. The hardening process used for silver steel involves heating the metal to temperatures of 770-780 degrees Celsius (1418-1436 degrees Fahrenheit). The metal is then flash cooled, or quenched, by dipping it in water. In some cases, oil is used in place of water. The oil method requires higher temperatures, and only thin diameter rods can be treated with this technique.
This metal may also be tempered. The process of tempering silver steel requires heating the metal to a set temperature and then maintaining this temperature for a period of time. Industry standard hold times are one hour for each inch (2.54 cm) of thickness. This is only a minimum standard, however, and actual hold times may be longer to produce the desired effects on the metal.
The uses of silver steel are abundant. Industrial equipment, including machinery and transportation equipment, is made of this metal. Many of the items found in the home setting, such as cutlery and cookware, are also made from silver steel. In the workshop, this material is commonly found in hand tools such as screwdrivers, punches, engravers, and files. Silver steel is even used in the automobiles, bicycles, and subway systems that people use on a daily basis. To state it simply, this alloy is one of the most commonly used metals, and one would find it difficult to conceive of an area of life in which this metal is not found.