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Where to get Metal for Blacksmithing

It's kind of funny but just setting yourself up with a forge and all the basics you need to get started in blacksmithing can be a challenge. Yet that is only the third of it. After that you need a constant supply of coal or lump charcoal to keep you going. And then the final third of it is getting a hold of some metal that you can work with! It can be a bit frustrating but it is worth the effort. I have addressed the issues of setting up an inexpensive forge and of making your own coal in previous articles on this website. But what I haven't talked about until now is getting metal to work with! So, in this article I am going to give you some tips and hints on how to solve this problem. And hopefully, over time you will have a nice collection of metals you can work with.


This all generates from a story I just have to tell you. I recently bought two complete leaf springs from a local junkyard. I gave one to a friend and I left one out in my side yard. Well, one day I walked out there to discover the leaf spring had disappeared! Yup, metal is now precious and it will walk on you so be careful. This just emphasizes my point that you have to put some effort into getting metal so you can do some blacksmithing! I am going to have to share in the richness of the leafspring that I gave my friend.

Here is a picture of the leafspring! If you see this leafspring somewhere send me an email!



Anyhoo, this brings me to a very important point. Your local junkyard is a fantastic place to get some good metal to work with. I got two of these for twenty dollars each.Thats a lot of nice slices of metal there. And I read a book by a very accomplished blacksmith who makes a lot of knives and he swears by the springs in cars. You know, they are those big springs that go into the suspension of the car. So, that might be a great thing to pick up too . While you are at the junk yard.

Rebar, Drums and other things

Once you start getting into the mindset of watching for metal you will be surprised at how much you will get a hold of. I have a whole collection of metals that are really useful for all kinds of projects. Now, I won't be forging any samurai swords with this stuff but it all comes in handy for various things. For example rebar from construction sites is usually pretty easy to come by and its pretty easy to work with. 55 gallon drums are often made of excellent sheets of steel that are just terrific for all kinds of odd jobs. And who can overlook a good piece of angle iron? I have used all these things in projects.

Braided Cable too: This is something that people often don't think about when it comes to blacksmithing but pieces of braided cable often are fantastic for smithing. You can simply forge weld it all into bars of steel. Works great.

Lawn Mower blades - These are usually made out of a very high grade steel so they can retain a nice edge and you can get these cheap!

Of course it can be difficult or impossible to tell the grade of the steel unless you have a degree in metallurgy and an electron microscope but you can always do the grinder test to get a sense for where on the scale the steel is. If you haven't heard of the grinder test its a way to get a sense for what kind of steel you have by grinding it on a grinding wheel and observing the type of spark it throws off. I will be doing a tutorial (maybe a video too) on this.

Some Other Ideas - Talking to people is an amazing way to scrounge up metal. You would be surprised at the stuff people have in their basements and garages! I even know a guy who works for the city waste disposal department and he is always on the lookout for metal for me!

Steel for Swords and Knives on Amazon

I get most of my steel for blade making right from the amazon website. Each knife or sword tutorial I have includes links to get the exact steel I used. These are all high quality O1 Steels from the Starrett Company.

To Make the Sting Sword : This steel is 3 inches wide to accommodate the curve in the sting sword.

This is the exact piece of steel I ordered for this project (From Amazon): O1 Tool Steel Sheet, Precision Ground, Annealed, 1/8" Thickness, 3" Width, 36" Length




Here is the piece of Steel I used to make the sword: (perfect for the first sword you make)

Starrett Tool Steel O1 Flat Stock, Oil-Hardened and Precision Ground Finish, Annealed Temper, ASTM A681, 1/8" Thick, 2" Width, 36" Length




I make knives with this steel. 18 inch length is less expensive but plenty for a couple of knives.

Tool Steel O1 (Oil Hardening) Flat Stock, Ground, ASTM-A681-94, 1/8" Thick, 2" Width, 18" Length



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