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I Forge Iron

which material to buy ?

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Good morning guys !

I would make a tongs, swage block for the anvil and chisels, but Which steel can I buy ?

I have a k720 and k110 steel



but is difficult forging, if the temperature is too high, is broken.

In Italy, many knifemaker use this steel but I don't know as they make.

I had use a as 38 NiCrMo4 for my first chisels, is a good forging, without a problem of broken, good hardness; but this steel is a good chose to make a swage for the anvil and tongs ?

In your experince, which steel you would buy ?

thanks in advance !
have a good day !

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Tong material is a matter of debate. For one's first tongs though, mild steel is certainly good enough. It's tolerant of heating mistakes, fairly easy to work, and it's cheap. It makes perfectly fine tongs, but more experienced smiths often make them from a medium-carbon steel like AISI1045 or EN8; a non-alloyed steel with about .4% carbon by weight. Other smiths use steels like 5160, which is an alloyed spring steel. The advantage of these more advanced steels is that the smith can make the tongs thinner and thus lighter, and can make the tongs springier in the right places.

Are you looking for cold-work or hot-work chisels? The traditional choice is a plain-carbon steel with around 1% carbon by weight, like AISI1095 or W1. This is very good for cold-work tools, but with hot work the heat treatment is affected if you don't cool it in water every few blows of the hammer. H13 is a well respected but expensive tool-steel that's designed for hot work. It hardens in air, and is very hard even at red heat. It is hard to shape by hand though, as it's just as hard at yellow heat as mild steel is at room temperature. S7 is similar, and also very good for cold-work tools.

Remember that blacksmithing is an art rather than a science; if it gets the job done, it's good enough. There are many steels you can use, such as old springs (c.5160), and old files(c.1095/W1).

A very useful resource: Steels Useful for Tools

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Keep it simple to start, mild steel for your first couple pair. Once you get the hang of it I like med Carbon, low alloy steel 1045 being nearly perfect. It's tough and won't get hard enough to become brittle.

The problem with using something like 5160 or 4140 is the chance they'll get overheated and get quenched. This can lead to embrittled tongs and snapped bits.

It's okay if you can remember to keep your tongs cool but you may have visitors in your shop someday who won't remember and cost you the time invested in the tongs.


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