Coatings of AISI H13 tool steel were made on low carbon steel by friction surfacing. Detailed microstructural studies and microhardness tests were carried out on the coatings. Studies revealed defect-free coatings and sound metallurgical bonding between the coating and the substrate. In addition, mechanical interlocking on a very fine scale was observed to occur between the coating and the substrate. Coatings exhibited martensitic microstructure with fine grain size and with no carbide particles. Coatings in as-deposited condition showed very high hardness (58 HRC) compared to the mechtrode material in annealed condition (20 HRC). Based on these findings, microstructural evolution during friction surfacing of H13 tool steel is discussed. The current work shows that friction surfaced tool steel coatings are suitable for use in as-deposited condition. Further improvements in coating microstructure and properties are possible with appropriate post-surfacing heat treatment. © 2010 Elsevier Ltd.