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I Forge Iron

workable metals?

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Yo Bonehead! Sorry, couldn't resist!:) Actually, they are ALL workable. It just depends on what you want to make, and the size pieces you have available. The low carbon steels work well for anything ornamental, or not needing strength. Higher carbon can be used for knives or tooling, depending on carbon content.

If you are a begginer, than stick with low carbon. And as a beginner, you will probably be using a hand hammer, not a power hammer. And lower carbon steels work much easier than high carbon. Now, 1018 is a low carbon steel, moves easily, and great for a lot of ornamental work. A36 is a higher carbon steel, meeting minimun structural requirements. That is what is normally sold at hardware and box stores. And what a lot of us use. It may contain higher carbon, but usuallly not enough to fully harden for something like a knife. Very usefull steel, and very common. Works well for tongs. Around here, 1018 is a special order steel. What I buy at the steel yard is A36.

Something like 5160 or higher will be used for knives, tooling, spring fullers, hardie tools, etc. The higher carbon, more care must be taken to work within the proper ranges of heat for that steel.

Tell us what steels you can scrounge, and maybe we can be more specific.

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Well like he said; however the high alloy steels like H13 or S7 are beloved by blacksmiths for tool making.

Very Low carbon steels are appreciated for intricate ornamental work.

Straight carbon steels from 1050 through 1090 are desired by some knifemakers *especiallyt* if you have a low manganese batch as that helps doing differential hardening.

Large sections of steel make anvils, treadlehammer anvils/heads, etc

Most smithing books willdiscuss what steels you should use for what.

"The complete bladesmith" will discuss knifemaking steels

and you can look for online lists of "junkyard steels" and see what they are used for.

BTW Machinerys Handbook had a section on steels and their general use, that smiths often work from ("if it's good for X then it should work for Y" sort of thing.)


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I would recommend getting a few books. The library has a few. I find them at garage sales, flea markets and old book stores. I would recommend books like "The Edge of the anvil" and "The Art of Blacksmithing". Good pictures, information writings, charts and lists. "The Edge of the Anvil" has great lists for metals such as steel carbon info, heat treating, grind testing and info on what scrap metals work well for what. An example is that a coil spring is good for this and that, and an axle shaft might work well for forging into whatever. The variables on blacksmithing and and things like steel, forge type, hammer control (your experience) and a wide spray of factors makes exact recommendations more difficult for me. I have many books and find when I have questions answered here, then I can get more details from the book once I know more of what to read about. Hope this helps.

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