Routing steel? What tool am I looking for?

I’m looking to put line designs in some of my projects. I suppose I’m looking for some like sticking a router bit in a drill press and locking it into position so I can move the project over the plate to route out my lines, but I’m pretty certain that would ruin my drill press. Any ideas what tool I would be looking for?

Note: I’m thinking a Dremel on a mount, but that would be pretty time consuming for the little Dremel.

I’d say, what you’re looking to do is chasing/repousse. Having a spinning tool is not typical because of it’s tendency to wander, although that can definitely be done.

With Chasing you’ll have a variety of chisel tools, curved and straight, to create the designs that you want. Designs such as what’s in Thomas Latane’s axe here are done by chasing;

Here is an example of some chasing tools, many blacksmiths forge these out themselves to get the specific design they are looking for - different radius chisels helps with curves.

When chasing steel, you’ll want to be sure it is not heat treated! You’ll not only damage your tools, it likely just won’t work. Have the steel in a soft state to properly chase. Also, having the steel on the anvil or a surface with some weight behind it will help - if you put the piece into a vise, be sure to put some leather or something in the vise too in order to not mar your piece.

What project are you looking to add the designs to?

Thank you for the detailed reply. The work on the axe is impressive. Chasing looks fun and thanks for reminding me of another aspect I need to get into!

I have several old tools I would like to restore and add long clean lines in. For example a 1/4th to 1/16th inch lines going down the spine of a curved pickaxe. That’s what I’m aiming for.

Tom Latane is an amazing blacksmith and teacher, if he is ever in your area - take his class, it’s well worth it.

You can of course do it your way and sort of “grind” some line work in, or even acid etching if you wanted to have more detailed looks.

For your application (the pick axe) I would cold chase with chisels. I probably wouldn’t go all the way to the end, because likely that’s a hardened tip, you can run a file to find where the metal gets soft on most tools - do this after the rust is cleaned off, of course.

Would love to see some of that decorative work once you’re done with it! I’m a huge fan of chasing, even if I don’t do it so often :slight_smile:

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