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How Do I Harden This Rock-Pick ? Answered

After seasons of cracking rocks my nice rock-pick, it was rounded and dull.

A grinder put a new point on it  ....   but it is Now a soft tip.... see the picture.

Do I need to heat it red and stab it into the butt region of  a slave
or will cow blood suffice.

If there is a reasonable tip hardening method please let me know..



Well hind sight is always useful next time cold grind it as you use your hammer.

You need to temper it.

Can you dissemble the hammer?

Parts of it won’t take the heat and you don’t want to temper the handle.

You need to take the head off place it in a kiln and heat it to 800% and gradually bring it down over a day.


FTR, you need to harden steel before you temper it. Your post confuses the terms a little. Tempering reduces the crystallization and brittleness of hardened steel. His pic is no longer hardened, so he need to harden the tip, optionally followed by tempering!

Sad news, will probably buy new for an upcoming rock trip.

Where do you collect your rocks?

Other than when I am fishing I get mine from the shores of Lake Ontario, lake Huron, Georgian Bay, and Lake Simcoe.

The Lake has already rounded them off and all I need to do is a final polish.

I have found a lot of quarts with gold in them that way even a couple rubies.


I  would enjoy finding a ruby.

Initially bought Utah geodes from our local rock shop.
Then traveled NV and neighbor states to pic them from the ground myself.
As we will go to Madras OR later this year.

My grand kids bring me geodes and rocks while my wife buys Mexican,
lake Superior agates and Brazil stones for me to play with.


All depends on the steel. But since grinding it softened the tip, it looks like that steel isn't the fancy air-hardening grades of tool steel.

To harden high carbon steel is easy. Get a torch. A big one. I think you might need a MAP gas, if not MAP-OXY or even acetylene to do a hammer than big. (Or a furnace, if you have one). Heat the tip till it's glowing red. Dunk it in oil or some type. Used motor oil, if you have it. Then you're done.

If you were to dunk it in water, it would cool too fast, overhardenening the tip. It would shatter on impact. If you go this route, you can get a harder, tougher steel, but you need to temper it to get that result. This is best done in an oven to control the temp, but it can also be done with a torch. Heat til it's just below glowing/red. Then let air cool. Or put in an oven at 400F or so for 3-6 hours and let air cool.

On a full moon - divest yourself of your clothes ... Only kidding

Heat the head to red hot and allow to cool slowly.

This will soften the steel.

Then polish it with wet and dry paper to a mat surface.

Heat slowly from the end away from where you need the temper - I suggest here you heat the middle.

Watch the colours flow over the polished steel, the colour I would look for is a brown / purple

Don't let it go to blue or it will be brittle.

MUCH depends on the carbon content of the steel - too little and it won't temper well. Too much and it will be brittle


If you over temper then heat to red again.

Most likely this has been case hardened though.


i will let you read up on that. You can do it at home.

It sounds like it lost its temper (no pun intended). :-P
Whenever you grind anything like this, you should frequently dip it in cool water so that it doesn't get so hot that it loses its temper and gets soft (a slow cool down after the heat from grinding also adds to annealing).

I haven't done much hardening and re-tempering lately, but found you a good article that runs through the process... - Cheers.

I do this to rocks after i find a region releasing them from their inclusions