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I Forge Iron

Hello from Philadelphia


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New to the forge.  Got into it with my 14 year old son who loves building things and wanted to make his own parts for different projects he was working on; of course he is also interested in making blades (his first attempt in the attached pic).  Something new to do during COVID and having a blast but so much to learn.  So far we have been using scrap steel (railroad spikes etc...) and short lengths of mild steel from local hardware store but it is so expensive.  Anyone know of a place in the Philadelphia area where you can buy hobbyist amounts of steel?  Most of the steel yards I have looked into are only open for huge commercial purchases and the online places seem to have pretty significant shipping costs (not a surprise but still, it adds up quickly).  Any other suggestions on where to get steel of known quality?  Thanks for all the great info here.   Looking forward to continuing to learn.IMG_2898.thumb.JPG.9bd7e3de7eba7fe50e277f3ff7ca4108.JPG

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Dear Mac,

Welcome aboard.  I hope that you and your son will find the craft rewarding.  It has been a positive aspect in y life for over 40 years.  If nothing else, it fosters an attitude of when you see something you like you think, "How could I make that?" rather than "Can I afford to buy that?"  Then, you ask yourself, "Can I make that given my tools available and skill level?"  Surprisingly often the answer is "yes" to both questions.  Also, making something with your own hands is very pychologically rewarding.  If more people made tangible things I believe there would be there would be less need for mental health professionals and medications.  And, possibly the best aspect, is the bonding with you and your son. 

I have a hard time with the idea that there are no steel suppliers in the Philly area who will not sell smaller amounts.  I suggest that you google "steel suppliers Philadelphia" and then start down the list calling them on the telephone, not email, text, or other electronic medium.  Ask for the sales department.  When you get them ask if they have a minimum order amount.  If they do not or it is something fairly reasonable like $100 ask if they have the type and sizes you want.  If they have an unreasonably high minimum order, say $1000, explain that you are a small scale blacksmith and ask if they know anyone who can supply you.

Sometimes to purchase from certain suppliers you need to get a sales tax number.  This exempts you from paying sales tax on the theory that the materials will be resold and sales tax will be paid at that time.  It is usually fairly easy to get a sales tax license for small scale sellers from either your state or city.

Also, look up and contact the local Artist Blacksmith Association of North America (ABANA) affiliate, the Pennsylvania Artist Blacksmith Association and query them.

"By hammer and hand all arts do stand

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A low miles coil spring from a car or truck will provide enough *good* steel for learning bladesmithing for a long time!  Cut along a diameter to get a bunch of "(" pieces all the same alloy so you can learn how it forges and heat treats.  A place that does lowers or lifts on vehicles will usually have a massive scrap pile of them. It's especially good if you can get ones that came directly from the dealership to the Lift/Lower shop as they won't have any fatigue cracks in them like 187K miles ones may have.

I like an old paper yellow pages to find iron and steel dealers to ask if they sell retail.

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I was in Delco, and I would go down to Steel and Metal Liquidators in New Castle DE. Good prices, stock in full 20' sticks they would cut down for you, as well as 4-5' pre cuts in all ( and I mean all) stock sizes. Their parent company is Fazzio's, in Glassboro NJ, same deal there. Show up in a flatbed or a suv, they will sell you stuff. I've also bought small quantities from O'Rourke Steel in West Chester. I've since moved up to Bucks co, and am still checking out suppliers. I did find Moses Glick, in Fleetwood- awesome scrap yard. I'm sure there's more in Philly- jusy look.


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Got some good advise there. A few more options, collision repair shop, go in and talk to the guys or the manager explaining what you are looking for and they probably have some coil/ leaf springs, axle/cv shafts and some other useable parts out back. A box of doughnuts will potentially get you a Lot of scrap. If going for coil springs make sure they are not on the strut or see if they would remove them. It's nothing you'll be wanting to do yourself, (dangerous).

Also, look for metal fabrication (Fab) shops in your area. Call them or go down in person and talk to them explaining what you are doing and looking for. They often have a large selection of drops and cutoffs or leftovers they will sell for a very fair price. The usually know what is what so the drops are often marked or stored appropriately and they can help you find what you are looking for. You may need to look around but there are some really nice people out there and eventually your find someone to get good stuff at Way better prices than the rip off box store stuff metal. 

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