Black Frog

What scrap metal to look out for?

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Being a total newb at this- I've only had some 1018 scraps to tinker with.

I have my sister's old farm that has a "junkpile" of old metal/equipment/parts that I have yet to see in person.
I mentioned I'd like to get some scrap metal, and I've been told I can pick away at my heart's content.

What sort of things should I look for?
Best types of metal to snag on my picking expidition?

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Depends on what you want to make, some will be mild, some will be medium C and some will be high C. I think there is a post or series here somewhere listing salvaged steel types. Off the top of my head, hay rake tines are the high side of medium carbon and tough, mower blades are higher carbon, good for blades and such. potato harvester chain is medium to high carbon and good for such. Most construction steels will be mild, angle iron, shapes, tension rods and such.

Don't worry, someone who actually knows will be along presently.

Frosty The Lucky.

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Depends on what you want to make and old Ag piles can have real wrought iron in them too!

In general anything that's not too large or too small or too chewed up or PLATED, (galvanized, chrome, nickle, cadmium, etc).

I like to look for items that are already 1/2 way to something I want to make---eg have an upset area with tapered down areas that I can use, good length, etc.

How much storage do you have? Many new smiths overdo it and have a large scrap pile that sits around for years until the neighbors show up with pitchforks and torches and code enforcement. (one new smith exulted over all the RR spikes he had collected, *many* *times* the number I have used in over 30 years of smithing!) If your sister is willing to "save the pile for you" I'd only take the best stuff (as scrappers can come along and steal it)

Things to look out for: old wagon tyres---often WI, Hay rake tines or potato digger bars---Hich C in useful shapes for small knives and firesteels; coil and leaf springs, good got blades and tooling, old files---high C again, old tools in general, some of my favorite tools have come out of scrap piles and tools are often a good start towards forging other things---I'm making a desert shrub out of rusted out wood auger bits right now for example. Useful shapes I have a set of shelves filled with bits that are solely used to hammer metal against---cones, tubes, squares, parts of old heavy equipment, dishing forms, etc.

Finally plan to go back and revisit the pile; I go back to the scrap yard at least once a month and find stuff I missed the first time or didn't know I needed.

PS You might even scrap some of it for $$ yourself and use that to buy stuff you wanted but can't find as scrap. I buy old welding gas tanks cheap and turn them into bells and dishing forms; last visit to the scrapyard I brought a bucket of tank valvestems and sold them as brass and paid for a typical visit.

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Take the whole pile home and sort it out there. They get rid of the scrap pile and you get a good start on your own scrap pile. (grin)

If you have to pick and choose, choose things with shapes, round, square, angle iron, flat bar, and rectangular shapes. Second choose the pipe and any tubing. Third choose things that have lots of mass (think mass as in for use as an anvil), rail road track, or shapes that you can use as a swage. Look for an old transmission, motors that may work, pulleys, etc. Ahh, just take it all as you will be able to use most of it at some point.

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This raises a few questions I had.
What can you make with old drill bits? I seem to find them in all sizes everywhere, almost free and haven't been able to think of anything to use them for!
Also- Copper cable. A friend has a small length of it, very thick and I was thinking of unwrapping it and using the strands for some decorative cage twists for Christmas ornaments. Can you forge copper, and if so, would it be too soft when done? Any ideas of what to use it for?

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There are a few good threads with scrap metal info, and also where to find it. Searching scrap metal should bring up a few good threads.

The parts you don't use for forging can be used for sculptures, check out Scrapartoz.com he is a member, and does beautiful welded scrap sculptures. Check his thread out too.

I am with Glenn, take it all home, and sort it there.

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Copper makes for great ornamentation when combined with steel---like copper leaves soft soldered to a steel tree, copper grounding wire wound to cover a weld joint, etc. Yes it can be forged---see the beautiful copper bowl pics posted here recently. As to "would it be too soft when done" Yes, No, Maybe depending on what you need it to do.

Old drill bits: how old? if they are HSS they are usually too much a pain to work in the forge. If there are *old* plain HC steel then they can be forged like HC steel. However unless they are really messed up their best use is usually resharpened and used as drill bits as there are a lot of jobs where having a "disposable bit" is nice---starting hole in heavily scaled or rusted pieces, jobs where you can't use a drill press and so side loading might occur, etc.

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Black,

I am always looking at scrap piles. Scrounging is afterall both an art form and sport. My supply bin is full of an assortment of old vehicle components. Always ask before taking anything and be considerate and dont leave a mess. Does not hurt to come around with a smal forged gift or a cold beer as a thank you either. In the end these folks become your friends and if you keep them smiling everone is happy. I got a bunch of tool steel from a logging outfit when they changed out blades on their chipper grinders.

Hit up the auto/truck/skidder repair places. Look for axles, leaf springs, torsion bars and ball joint pivot arms. All good quality steels that you can make into tooling. The leaf springs make decent edge tools. The coil springs make good struck tooling (punches and chisels). Be careful with shock units that have intergal springs. You want the shafting but in cutting the casing apart you are releasing the spring tension. Be guided accordingly because these things come apart with force.

I also scrounge, with permission, at a local metal fab facility that is rather big. Mostly mild structural pieces but they are big drops. They have dumpsters that are the size of 40 Ft containers. I get in there and prowl around. Be careful when you are on someone elses job site. Wear proper PPE (gloves, goggles,ST boots, etc) and don't take any chances. You aren't covered for any accidents and they dont need the hassel of a non-employee injury.

Good luck hunting.

Peter

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Ditto on the "all scrap metal is good" . . . if you don't have a use for it, someone does. Whether you hoard it, sell it, trade it or work it you should never leave a piece of metal behind unless you can't find enough friends/tools to help you load it up :rolleyes:

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I got quotes last week for 20' pieces of 1 3/4" & 2" 1045, as I prepared to help some homeschoolers make their own hammers. That was over $400. Of course, that was enough for 120 hammers. Then yesterday, a customer in my shop said why don't you ask a hydraulic cylinder repair shop if you can have scrap and drop from their repairs. So I approached the manager of the local hyd cyl shop, told him what I was doing and he said I could have all I wanted. All the rams are made of 1045. When I told him I would make him a hammer, he lit up. This round stock has one half of one thousanth chrome on it, which should grind off easily with a flap disc. And the price is right. Alan

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Why grind off the chrome, so you can breathe the grindings? You will never get it hot enough to melt/offgas in a forge.

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I stopped by a garage door place and was allowed to take whatever springs were in the scrap bin. I tossed one in the forge this weekend and it was very easy to uncoil and pull straight when hot.
Instant round stock! :)

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Just a warning about making a scrap steel tool and selling it. The buyer may return an few months later and want another just like the first. Now's the time to look for your job card to see what steel you used and how much you charged. No job card or other form of record? Tough toenails. Furthermore, what if you made the tool from a '59 Plymouth torsion bar. Where in the heck are you going to find another? It's best to make tools from scrap for your own use. Then if they fail, only you are embarassed, not a customer.

I try to find "old" axles for top and bottom tools. Some of them are 1045. The problem is "not knowing." Learn the spark test. It will help ID the carbon steels and low alloy steels. With high alloy steels, it is more difficult to read the spark shower.

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On the Other Hand: I once bought several tons or wrought iron plate from the old Ohio Penitentiary's water tower.

The demolition company mangled the pieces terribly so we were reduced to trying to cut out flat sections surround by nasty cold folded or torn bits (and every time they destroyed more of it they wanted me to pay *more* for it!)

Anyway I had a couple of tons piled in my back yard when I had a bout of pneumonia and was upright in a chair for a month---couldn't lay down even to sleep. So along toward the end of my time off work the city came around and told me I had to get rid of my scrap pile *IMMEDIATELY* and I got to move it into the garage piece by piece (largest was 180 pounds IIRC) by myself when I could barely walk...

So "get it all" may *not* be the best thing sometimes depending on *your* situation.

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