Dar here, checking in to the thread late.
hey i have been making Ti picks out of the cheap ti that reactive
sells what i use for my dies is Oil hardening one tool steel. i
can get about 200 picks a die when it is properly heat treated.
remember to use thicker stock than what your cutting and quench in
I haven't had to cut much Ti (almost none) but I've also heard that
a couple hundred parts is a good run, as opposed to thousands for
many other metals, and indefinite use for some designs/metals/gages.
Proper heat treating is a must for harder metals, and less
cooperative ones, like Ti. I tend to temper them on the soft side to
minimize risk of breakage, because people generally don't use dies
enough to worry about wearing out the cutting edges of pancake dies
(although this happens a lot if dies are allowed to operate out of
alignment, in which case the cutting edges can collide and
With Ti, however, it's a good idea to temper harder, perhaps at
around 650F., or even around 600 (I usually temper between 700 and
900F depending on several factors). Of course, accurate tempering is
predicated upon correct hardening (done in the quenching phase). An
easy way to check that is that files do not touch 0-1 steel, post
-quench. Also, be sure to dip the die vertically, and quickly, to
Susan Kingsley's chapter (in the Hydraulic Die Forming book) on
pancake dies is an essential introduction to the process, and I know
it's good info because most of it came from me. For thin Ti, even
26g, I'd use 1/16" steel, and cut it at about 17.5 degrees with a #1
blade (depending on blades, which can vary a hair by in width by
brand, so that's not an angle written in stone ) ((that's only for
dies to be heat treated; it's too tight for unhardened dies)).
There are a lot more ways to make crappy dies than to make good
ones, but it's not that complicated when you know the basics.