So, you’ve got a forge and other essential items to get started on your blacksmithing journey. And now you’re wondering: Where do I get steel to begin working?
If you want new metal, look for a local supplier near you or buy it online. If you’re going to find used metal, junkyards and flea markets are an excellent source. You can also ask for permission to access the scrap tubs of local metal shops, repair shops, or a fellow local smith.
Okay, that was a short answer. And I know, you’re still looking for more guidance on how to find a supplier and where exactly to look for used steel.
So let’s take an in-depth look at the different options you have to get your steel.
Where To Buy Blacksmithing New Metal Supplies
Although you can find used metal for cheap or even free, it’s not always the ideal material. No two pieces you scrap will be the same.
So if you want any kind of continuity in your work, you need to get fresh materials for your projects.
Whether you plan on making any specialty tools or want to sell your work, using new steel is the way to go.
For example, if you’re making wedding gifts for a party of ten people, they would all need to be the same. You can’t do that with scrapped steel; you’ll have to use new stuff.
Now, when it comes to obtaining new steel, you can either find a local supplier or go online. Let’s consider both options.
1. Buying it online
Yes, you can get steel shipped at your doorstep. While it may sound convenient, the biggest issue in buying metal online is the cost of shipping. At times, the shipping cost can even exceed the price of the material itself.
That’s not to say you can’t find good deals online. There are certainly options worth considering.
For example, some sellers on Amazon may provide free or inexpensive shipping. So it’s possible to buy online without being wasteful with your money. You just have to look for it.
Honestly, I would advise you to avoid buying metal online, mainly because of the shipping cost involved.
Most steel is heavy and oddly shaped so that the shipping cost can be ridiculously high sometimes. A bar of steel will cost you around $20-30, which is fine. The shipping, however, could be at least another $30, if not more.
So you either have to spend $50-60 for one bar or buy a lot of them to offset the shipping cost. If you’re going to use that material for practice, spending that much money doesn’t seem wise, at least not in the beginning.
However, as I’ve said, there are probably some reasonable options out there. Here are some of the online suppliers you can check out. See if you can get a good deal.
- Amazon.com – Make sure to check the feedback rating of the supplier here. Only purchase from well-rated sellers.
- Blacksmith Depot
- Centaur Forge
- Pieh Tool Company, Inc.
2. Finding a local supplier
In my opinion, the best way to get new steel is to find a supplier near you.
If you’re reading this article, you have access to a device that can use Google. So use that and find a supplier in your area.
Another way to find one is to phone a local welding shop and ask them where they get steel.
Now, if you’re in a remote region, there might not be any suppliers near you. In that case, you’ll have to drive to get it.
However, if you’re within a hundred miles of a decent-sized city, you should be able to get delivery.
Also, most metal shops for fabrication or welding carry steel that you can use for blacksmithing. My first few pieces of steel came from a local welding shop as well.
As for the price, it’ll vary depending on the alloy you’re getting and its shape. Local steelyards will have minimum lengths that they sell, usually around 20 feet. At any rate, sourcing fresh metal locally will be a significant saving, instead of searching online for it.
Finding Used Metal From Your Local Junkyard
Starting your blacksmithing journey with scrap metal is very common.
When I started doing it, I used auto springs, rebar, and railroad spikes to make all sorts of exciting stuff. I’ve currently got a whole collection of different metals useful for all kinds of projects.
Your project will determine the kind of scrap metal you should try to find. Different metals ought to be used for various purposes.
Spring steel is suitable for long axes and blades, while mild steel can be used for many different things like hooks, tongs, or chandeliers.
Types of metals and their uses are topics for another article, though. So let’s get back to finding scrap metal.
What to look for
You have to get into the mindset of looking for metal around you. Once you make it a habit, you’ll be surprised at how many useful things you can find. It’s easy to get rebar from construction sites, which is also easy to work with. Pieces of braided cable are also excellent for smithing purposes.
If you want steel to make blades and axes, the rear leaf spring suspension in cars is an excellent source for that.
Leaf springs are hard and already shaped like long, thin bars. So they are perfect for making things like knives or swords. Not only the leaf spring but other old car springs are also ideal for blacksmithing.
Old saw blades are another excellent source of metal. However, they can be slightly tricky to work with. So make sure to do your homework on them before you start hammering.
Some other sources for recycling are 55-gallon drums, railroad spikes, metal files or other vintage tools, your friends’ basements and garages, railroad tracks, and junkyards.
I can go on all day. Just make it a habit, and you’ll start finding stuff at places you never even imagined as a beginner.
Also, flea markets are a goldmine for blacksmithing tools if you know what to look for. Keep your eyes peeled for useful items like handled tools, anvil, swage block, blower, coal forge, etc.
Be ready to bargain (and sometimes walk away). Of course, you can also expect to see large chunks of steel.
Another thing you can do is ask for access to other people’s scraps. Visit repair shops or local metal shops around you and ask them if they’ll let you take a look at their scrap tub.
Firstly, you’ll be surprised at how generous people can be.
Secondly, many of these places have to pay to get the broken or old parts hauled off. So it can be a win-win situation.
Blacksmithing requires a decent amount of preparation upfront, and it can be a bit confusing for a neophyte.
I believe we’ve thoroughly covered everything you need to know about getting scrap metal or buying a new one.
There’s a lot of information in this article, and you probably have lots of ideas after reading it. Now, you’re more than prepared to start your blacksmithing journey.
So find some metal and start forging.
Hopefully, this article has been of help to you. Thanks for reading, and good luck with your future creations!
Cheers tools owners!