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I had a thought about practicing certain techniques and hammer methods on soft metals such as aluminium as a way of not using the useful steel for simple practice pieces. Simply using soft metals to mimic hot iron in how it would move as a way to see how to move metal, but because hot steel would react differantly I don’t knkw if this is a very good idea for anything more than basic hammer technique

Is this an idea that could work?

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Aluminium doesn't hammer well. You cant really forge it at all..  Brass will do, but only in certain circumstances and not like steel. Copper work hardens, so you need to anneal frequently and  it doesnt really move like steel.  Plasticene works on a very basic level to see how metal “moves”. Steel is cheaper than copper and brass, so you dont save anything. Get some scrap steel and get hammering. 

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I find brass work hardens and cracks on me too if I don't anneal it often. 

Another option would be modeling clay like one might get from a crafts store makes an acceptable alternative to steel and probably better than other metals. You will be surprised how resistant it is to light hammer blows.

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Steel I less expensive than aluminum or brass and plentiful.

Nothing will teach you how to forge iron like forging iron.

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Starting out as the OP is doing, there are ways to gain experience using materials other than steel.  Modeling clay is one of those items. Anything that can be made with modeling clay, can be made with metal. For that reason modeling clay is great material to solve problems and techniques. You can then take that knowledge to the forge (when it gets set up), and transfer that knowledge to metal.

You are correct, there is always a learning curve when you start working with a new material.  

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