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Useful metals in the small workshop


Used for most blacksmithing jobs: chain links, rivets, bolts, harrow bars and harrow tines, and plough parts except for shares and mould-boards, etc. Do not attempt to use free-cutting mild steels designed for machine-shop use.


Steels with 0.65 to 0.8 percent carbon are used for blacksmithing tools, woodworking tools, etc. For many purposes, motor-vehicle spring steels, in both flat and round sections, are a reasonable substitute. Plough and harrow discs and ploughshares are invaluable for many jobs in small workshops.


Useful for making hammers and, with the web (the "middle" part) removed, can be used to form a simple plough-beam.


Useful for hammers, set hammers and flatters. Not suitable for cutting tools. Can be easily forge-welded with a little flux. Make very good hooks for chains, strong eye bolts and similar objects.


Not used for forge work but can be used as a hard-facing material on low-carbon steels. The job is brought to a bright yellow heat in the forge and flux and cast iron applied to the surface. Cast iron is smeared on to the work. Remove from the fire and allow to cool to a dull red heat, then quench in water. An extremely hard surface will result. Depending on the job, the finish can be left rough or ground to a better finish.

Where there is a shortage of carbon steel, a mixture of cast iron and mild steel can be used for some purposes. Cast iron is smeared on to the surface of a piece of mild steel, more flux added and a second piece of mild steel placed over the cast-iron face. The whole is heated until the cast iron is molten and then the whole is squeezed together in a vice with large jaws. Next, bring to a good welding heat with flux and hammer together. The piece can be cut through and rewelded a number of times. The resulting steel can be made into a wide range of woodcutting tools and serves well as ploughshare steel.