I am about to deal with tool steel sheet for the first time (having avoided it for 22 years). If I can saw out a pattern with a steel saw blade, why can't I cut the tool steel sheet into sections with the steel blade on the bench shear?<<
The good news is ‘You can!’.
You didn’t say what thickness material you’re working with. If
it’s 1/8" (3 mm) thick or thicker, you might want to use a regular
hack saw. This would save you time & many blades.
If you use a regular hack saw, a 24 tooth blade would leave a
better edge on the cut piece. Blades are available in several
densities, typically 18 tooth - 32 tooth. They’re also available
in 10 & 12" lengths as well as several qualities. Go for the 12"
blade in the best quality, usually about $1.25 per blade. Most
hardware stores sell both blades & hack saws. Most hack saw
frames are adjustable & will accommodate both 10 & 12" blades.
If you’re cutting thin material (under 1/8"), clamping the metal
between 2 pieces of wood so the area to be cut just protrudes from
the wood a little (about 1"). This keeps the metal from flexing
while being cut & also makes the operation a little quieter.
As for cutting with a bench shear, that depends on the size &
quality of the bench shear. 1. Is the length of the blade long
enough to cut from 1 side of the piece of steel to the other in
one operation? 2. Are the frame & blade heavy enough to cut the
thickness you have?
Many small bench shears have either a 5 or 6" long blade. The
frames of many of the small bench shears (even some of the low
priced imports) are rated as being able to cut 3/16" steel plate.
When cutting, the cutting should take place in 1 smooth action
from start to finish. Don’t use a jerking motion when pulling on
the handle. If you’re a small person, it may be necessary to get
a larger person to cut a piece of material that’s close to the
maximum thickness the shear is rated at. This is one time dieting
doesn’t pay (bg).
If the knives in the shear are nicked, those nicks will show up
in the edges of the piece being cut.