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I Forge Iron

First trip to steel yard.

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I'm making my first trip to the steel yard to buy stock. What are the best sizes and shapes to get and how much of each should i get. Looking to be making S-hooks, fire tool sets and leaf key rings amongst other stuff.

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If going to salvage yard, get an array of different sizes and shapes... I like to have some angle, some square tube, some heavy wall pipe, and any small round and square stock I can find... I also like to have a few pieces of I beam handy for those special projects. I also usually pick up some different sizes of rebar just for cheap play metal.


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S hooks: most of them I do from 1/4" sq stock; sometimes larger round stock for custom orders. 1/4" sq stock is generally pretty cheap and can be cut with bolt cutters to fit in the vehicle better.

Fireplace sets, well if you have a powerhammer you can do lots of neat stuff working larger stock down. If you are hammering out by hand 1/2" sq stock is a handy size, though a smaller set for wood stoves is a nice thing too.

Leaf Key rings---not something I generally do so no suggestion

Also see if they have any heavy steel wire used to bundle some steel deliveries, they may just throw it away and it's a handy size for many hooks. If it's only pallet strapping, well pallet strapping and bandsaw blade is a favorite billet for my pattern welding...

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If your buying it new, usually 3 pieces of 1/4 inch, 3 pieces of 3/8 inch, 3 pieces of 1/2 inch in both round and square is a good place to start. It will give you 6 different choices and enough steel to play with for a short while. From there you can judge your needs as the stock is used. Cut to 10 foot lengths for hauling.

From the junk yard, look for the same mix AND anything else that looks interesting. Bed rails are great for angle iron projects. Pipe from 1/2 inch to 1-1/2 inch is useful in small quantities, as is square tubing.

IF you choose the junk yard route, DO NOT LOOK for what is there, but SEE the possibilities that piece of steel can provide. The section of gear teeth can be a swage, the small(ish) squirrel cage fan inside for a forge blower, and so on.

Your a blacksmith, so think like a blacksmith. Make the fellow a deal to buy the whole junk yard !! You will find use for most of it eventually. (grin)

BP0244 Junk Yard Visit
BP0184 Look - See

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my youngest daughter told me that she found someone that was interested in my work
i said really who?
she gave me the name and address of the scrap dealer
she said , the ad in the paper said looking for steel and metal all shapes and sizes
she thought they were looking for art work.
good to know someone appreciates my work and willing to pay me for it.
by the pound that is

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If you are just starting out smithing then the reply earlier about round and square of each size is the best. i wouldn't buy any big scrap I beam or anything unless you need it right now. Most of the big pieces i make tools and stuff from have come real cheap or given to me because i didn't need them at the time and someone was wanting to get rid of them.
Have fun

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my junkyard shopping list is aimed at high carbon steels for tools
axles, leaf springs and crankshafts ;)

at the steel yard for mild steel
its a lot easier to hex or round square stock than vise versa :P
Id go for a selection weighted toward the larger dimesions
12" > 2" all sorts of ideas come to me when holding a larger stock
at work we make mostly architectural (stairs, railings, doors, grills ect) and use quite a lot of 58th square, Id favor it as dimensionally stout enough to draw down in places and upset in others for fireplace equipment.

most of our leaf work is 1/16" plate (laser cut) then either stamped in dies we make (40 ton sheer) or for larger leaves hand chased (air hammer), peened and curved. Contemplating doing something similar at home with hand tools Id probably opt for 18" copper plate and a jewelers saw for any complex silhouette,would be a lot of grinding and filing in steel.

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Ice Czar: I'm kinda led to believe your working as an industrial/commercial blacksmith for a decorative ironwork type company? Am I close? Care to start a new thread or throw up some more info in the "introduce yourself" thread?

On buying new stock: Yeh, buying brand new clean stock is kinda nice...just watch out, cause it's easy to get hooked on buying new stock for everything...and that can get EXPENSIVE! :)
-Aaron @ the SCF

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I work for Geoffrey Newton
High-end architectural ironwork, half of which seems to get installed in Aspen :P

I'll start a thread when I get some of my own designs together
Id also point out that many an industrial district (Machine shops, fabricators, ect) have little use of what they consider "scrap" often pieces 14" long or less
it gets bought up at .05 cents per pound, but is perfect for someone learning or just making smaller items like lights.

Id also point out that not all steel yards are the same, ideally you want an in with a large regional distributor, locally we get steel from Norfolk Iron & Metal, which is a major distributor, steel runs about .55 cents per pound (20 or 24 foot lengths) and you need to deal with either pickup or an order large enough for delivery (via 18 wheeler), whereas a local yard also gets their steel at that price from a distributor and then marks it up, but you pay a steep premium for a few simple cuts.

a third possibility is a machineryarchitectural salvage yard, bring your own cutting torch :p

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