Recycled materials for blacksmithing

Many of the items that I forge are made from recycled materials.

Petefire Artist Blacksmith-forging with recycled materials

Recycled metal forging at Petefire

It is very strongly tied to my practise to use recycled steels as much as possible especially when meaning tools for myself to use in my further practise.

This is not because in the modern world there are no steels that are more advanced in their molecular make up, nor because I believe that the steels I use in recycling are superior to the modern equivalent.

Reasons that I forge with recycled steel

The reason for recycled steel being used so much in my work is because they can be. What I mean is that steel is being thrown out after their intended job from their first manufacture classify the steel as obsolete and it is also consider too laborious to process in mass recycling and would not have any kind of profit margin to both over. This results in a lot of once state of the art steel used in heavy machines for tough jobs is discarded once the mechanical status of the material cannot be continually employed in the job it was intended for anymore and will, rather than be completely discarded will find itself in a corner, somewhere forgotten about until the end of time.

Steels used in this way often have a different molecular structure to what we would call regular mild steel (which makes up a lot of the building structures we see). Mild steel is of course very strong as a material it does however lack the ability to be toughened further to obtain ‘Tool steel qualities’.

So now that we know there is a lot of ‘Worthless’ steel that is discarded and un-recyclable by mass, we can start to look at what someone else may do with it.

Uses for recycled steels

Due to the specific nature of the jobs that such steel will be undertaking the manufactures and engineers need to know what kind of steels to use for different jobs and this means they need a way of documenting the steels for instance, a trucks leaf spring, which wants to be able to flex and withstand and adapt to great ‘bounce’ has a different requirement than a crane trucks ground securing pistons which are intended to take the strain without crumpling or distorting. By this logic I may choose to use a trucks leaf spring for a machete and a cranes ground piston for a hammer head.

The actual steels used also have references to the grades of steel that different mechanical parts are made from, this will be int he form of a number that refers to the kind of steel used in the application and can be used to determine what the molecular structure is and therefore how and where to use it for future use.

Some of the recycled metal that I’ve forged are:

  • broken car springs
  • hydraulic compression bar
  • metal files and rasps
  • train tracks

You are very welcome to contact me about recycled metal forging, to find out more and if you’d like to buy a kitchen knife or commission me to forge something for you.