W Is for Work Hardening

Metalworking Glossary for the Letter W

See the index to the Glossaries here:


  • Warm Forging. As opposed to cold working or hot working, warm forging is deformation of metal at an elevated temperature, but lower than the recrystallization temperature of the material. The heat allows for lower forces to be used than in cold working.
  • Warpage. A term that refers to distortion that can occur in a forging during quenching following heat treatment.
  • Ways. On a lathe, “ways” is a shortened term for bedways.
  • Wheel Face Grinder. Another name for a vertical spindle surface grinder.
  • Wheel Lathe. A wheel lathe is used to manufacture and resurface the wheels used by trains.
  • Width of Cut. In sawing, it is the distance a saw tooth travels across a workpiece from the point it enters it to the point it exits.
  • Wire EDM Machine. A type of electrical discharge machine that uses a vertically positioned needle-thin wire, often made of brass, as the tool electrode. This wire, which is kept under tension, continuously moves on a programmed route, eroding a narrow path as it travels through a workpiece that has been submerged in a tank of dielectric fluid. Since erosion takes place on the tool as well as the workpiece, the wire is constantly being unspooled and automatically fed throughout the operation. Other names for wire electrical discharge machining are Spark Eroding, Spark Machining, Wire Burning, and Wire Erosion.
  • Work Coordinate System. Abbreviated as WCS, it is an active coordinate system used by a CNC to communicate to the software how a workpiece is positioned in relation to the zero point (the machine’s home point).
  • Work Hardening. Also known as strain hardening or stress hardening, it is a cold working method for hardening metal through compression or flexing.
  • Workholding. A term used to describe fixturing a workpiece in place for machining or fabrication. It refers to a tool like a vise that holds the workpiece as well as the process of attaching the workholding tool firmly into position on the machine.
  • Working Drawing. A drawing—such as a blueprint—of a machine, part, or other structure.
  • Worm Gears. Cylindrical, screwlike gears that mesh with worm wheels.
  • Worm Wheels. Gears that have the appearance of spur gears, but mesh with worm gears.
  • Wrought Steel. Steel that has been produced by hot mechanical working. Wrought is an archaic term that means “worked” and in the metal fabrication industry has traditionally been used to mean metal that has been hammered or beaten into shape.