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I Forge Iron

Common shop materials

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Just wanted to get everyones take on what common stock of steel to have handy in a shop? I do most of my stuff from salvaged material but am always wanting when it comes to building tongs and hardy tools because i dont have the stuff on hand to make it... I just want to see what everyone kid of keeps on hand generally in their shops! bonus points with pics =D

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Well that would depend on what they do; a knifemaker might have only a selection of high carbon steels in fairly short lengths and maybe some real wrought iron for hilting.  A gatemaker may have a wide selection of sq and round stock A-36 in 20 foot lengths and not a bit of high carbon steel in the shop.

Me, I do a wide range of stuff and usually pick up usable material at the scrap yard on "spec".  I was able to buy a bunch of 1/2" sq stock at half price in full length sticks so I got it and now am planning projects to use it.  I pick up real wrought iron whenever I can to use in historical reproduction items,  For the classes I teach I usually buy new steel at the local dealer.  I usually have some medium carbon steel on hand for toolmaking; (sucker rod for instance) and some high alloy steel on hand (H-13, S-1, etc) for chisels and punches---but I buy that at blacksmithing conferences as recycled goods.

So what type of smithing do you plan to do and how much of it?  One trick I have used to good effect is that when I buy stock for a good sized project I try to buy an extra piece of each size for the future as it's a size I work with.  At the scrap yard if I find a very nice piece of steel I will try to buy it for future use. If I can find pieces that have already been worked in a way that I can modify them for a project saving time and fuel I'll get them.

Of course I live in the country and none of my neighbors can complain about my scrap pile, (One has goats, the other horses...)

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On 5/31/2017 at 1:02 PM, ThomasPowers said:


I will be doing a bit of everything, around the house projects, hinges, hooks, decorative pieces. And a lot of knives and axes as well. As well as general shop fabrication as well. I have 1095 and 1065 and 15n20 in a moderate quantity for now for knife making and making Damascus billets (eventually). and some angle iron.  Have a few coil springs and access to axles and leaf springs, i just have to go pick them up :P. 

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Heres my small pile. Have to keep it inside. But theres a couple big rig king pins (hammers one day?) input shaft to a 13 speed semi tranny, coil springs from the front of a F350(they made all my tooling). Its just in the corner of my garage. Theres another pic of my new long stuff. Square stock, tube etc.  Not alot , but its what I got. Then misc. small stuff in a box, then my box of mostly new rail spikes.  Its not a huge pile, but Its more then what I need for now.  :-)





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I'm fortunate enough to have a little fab shop nearby, that keeps a good inventory of HRS on hand, ... and will custom cut, and sell me "drops" or full lengths of whatever I need.

And if he doesn't stock what I need, he can get it in for me, on his next regular order.

Even so, ... it's convenient to keep a small selection ( maybe half-a-ton ) of shapes and flat bar on hand.

Generally, whenever I buy material for a project, I'll buy full sticks, and just put the surplus on the rack, for future use.

This seems like a simplistic approach, ... but it's been adequate to bail me out of many, many situations.


There's a good Scrapyard about 20 miles away, ... ( Sahd's Salvage, Columbia, PA ) ... with which I have a 40 year relationship.

But since the heavy industry has dried up around here, the yard doesn't have the wide selection that it once had.  :angry:




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I have a bucket full of railroad spikes and some pieces of A36 and mild in random lengths and cross sections for small pieces and decorative work; a few axles, torsion bars, and coil springs from my mechanic for tooling; and a length of HC cable that I'm going to make a knife from someday. For a hobbyist like me, it's a good selection.

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I keep what I can get. Now I kinda do a little of everything, knife making, do a good bit of tool making, and also lots of the smaller decorative/functional pieces.

sway bars, leaf springs, coil springs, horseshoes, files, rasps, axles, large pins (2" round), some large mild steel drops that I give away to beginners as anvils, railroad spikes, sucker rod, sucker rod ends, saw blades, pitch fork heads, band saw blades, chainsaw chain, and then just random bits of large bolts, rake heads, and lots of other things, chisels, wrenches, hammer heads.

The stuff that I have 40 feet of is mostly the most used stock size for me, though some of my most used stock sizes are under 20 feet.

20 feet of:

3/16" round

1/2x1/8" flat

1/2x1/4" flat

1/4x3/4" flat

1x2" flat

1/8x2" flat


3/16x2" flat

3/16x1.5" flat

1/4x1.5" flat


5/8" round/square


40 feet of:

1/2" round/square

3/8" round/square

1/4" round/square

1/4x1" flat






the long stock is not in these photos.





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4 hours ago, littleblacksmith said:

I keep what I can get. Now I kinda do a little of everything, knife making, do a good bit of tool making, and also lots of the smaller decorative/functional pieces.....

Trade shops???? :P.. I cant wait to build mine but i unfortunately dont have room for ALL that, it's just my big garage currently :P 

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how about we trade shops now, you know, because it's summer here in Texas and I bet it's still cold up there! then when December comes around, we can trade back. Sound good?

Now, with some racks on the walls, You can store all the long stock, that's what I do, just wall space. Now the other scrap that is in buckets and on the pallets does take up some space. It has taken 2 years to get my scrap pile where it is at, the thing is though, that I keep on using the scrap almost as quickly as I get it! about every month or so I take a trip to the scrap yard and spend sometime more than $20, which is a lot at a scrap yard! last time I brought back part of a forklift tine, so that upped the bill a bit.



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When i want to make something, I usually buy new stock since mystery steel is mystery and rarely is in the right dimension. I then usually buy more than needed At least twice what I believe I need. Quite often a whole stick which for transport reasons has to be cut into two. Pieces shorter than 5-6 feet are stored standing in a box full of cardboard tubes and longer ones on racks on the backside of the shop. 

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