The Three Pillars of Metalworking — Round Bar, Drill Rod, and Shafting: Insights from a Ground Bar Supplier in Chicago, Illinois

If you are in the market for metal products, there is a good chance that you’ve come across terms like round bar, drill rod, and shafting bandied throughout your search. But what exactly do these terms mean? Why are they important? Are they interchangeable? How can you tell them apart? To help give you a better understanding, this alloy ground bar supplier in Chicago, Illinois is going to review these three types of metal stock that metalworking companies and their customers use daily.

Round Bar

Round bar, which is just what it sounds like, is made of metal and is long and cylindrical. You will find round bars in all sorts of metals, including hot rolled steel, cold finished steel, stainless steel, aluminum, alloy steel, brass, and more. Most alloy ground bar suppliers in Chicago, Illinois can produce them in various diameters, starting at 0.250 inches and going up to 24 inches.

  • Steel Round Bars: Hot rolled steel round bars are commonly used in construction and in forging and machining applications where precision dimensions and finish are not necessary. On the other hand, cold finished round bars are used for applications requiring an extremely precise surface finish and dimensions. Steel round bars can be used for the manufacture of many items including framing, supports, braces, shafts, and axles.
  • Stainless Steel Round Bars: Stainless steel round bars refer to a group of steel specifications that are highly resistant to corrosion, can handle high acidity levels, and are compatible with the high chlorine levels in some environments.
  • Aluminum Round Bars: Aluminum round bars are lightweight, durable, and can be easily machined and cut — so typical applications of aluminum round bars include beams, window trim, crankshafts, rails, wedges, and dowels.
  • Brass Round Bars: When high-performance factors such as strength, electrical conductivity, corrosion resistance, and spark resistance are vital considerations, brass can be the perfect metal for a round bar. Polished brass has a dazzling sheen that is attractive and easily machined. Examples of items typically made from brass are marine hardware, instruments, fasteners, and fittings.

Drill Rods

Drilling rods are manufactured from high-quality tool steel that has been rolled or machined to a precise size. In some cases, they can be produced as a square instead of a round shape. In some cases, the steel is heated before machining, which relieves its hardness and makes it more pliable. The steel is then air-cooled before it is machined into items like drill bits, taps, dowel pins, shafts, and reamers. Drill rods are also used to manufacture hammers, files, and punches.

Drill rods are primarily of two types, water- and oil-hardened.

  • Water Hardened Drill Rods: The rods are heated until they are glowing red, then put into a vat of water to cool down. The outcome is a tough metal that is easy to machine but not recommended for welding. These rods are commonly used in the manufacture of hammers and files.
  • Oil Hardened Drill Rods: When drilling rods are oil hardened, they are heated until glowing red and plunged into a vat of molten oil. They are easy to weld and machine. Oil-hardened drill rods are used for general tool making since they produce extremely hard surfaces.


Shafting, sometimes called “Turned Ground and Polished” shafting, is an industry term for steel that has been processed with high-precision engineering from high quality steel. The bars are polished to guarantee smooth, round surfaces and straight lengths. The manufacturing process is tailored to include standards of excellence in surface finish, roundness, hardness, and straightness, which ensures longevity in terms of lifespan of the finished shaft.

Your alloy ground bar supplier in Chicago, Illinois may recommend using shafting bars in applications that demand a high degree of accoracy, such as weather measuring devices, laboratory instruments, high-speed motor shafts, drive shafts, pump shafts, and ball bushings.

Final Thoughts

There are major differences between the three pillars, so if you get them confused, you might wind up with an undesirable product that does not work how you want it to in your metalworking projects. So be aware of these points when choosing which product to purchase.

Looking for a Ground Bar Supplier in Chicago, Illinois?

Are you ready to partner with the top-rated alloy ground bar supplier in Chicago, Illinois? If so, look no further than the team at Banner Commercial. As a leading alloy ground bar supplier, we carry a large inventory of various metal grades and sizes to accommodate the needs of manufacturers in all industries. Contact us today at (800) 323-9732 to get started.