Is Rebar Good for Forging? (Pros and Cons)


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Is Rebar Good for Forging? Things to Consider when Working with Rebar.

Rebar forging is a hotly debated topic in the world of blacksmithing. There are seemingly hundreds of YouTube tutorials on rebar knifes, bottle openers, and other unique projects.

Many smiths swear by rebar for its affordability, while others have doubts about whether rebar is worth working with.

Here are some pros and cons of forging rebar that will help us get to the bottom of this popular debate.


What is Rebar?

rebar pros and cons
Forging with rebar has its pros and cons.

Before we get into the pros and cons of this type of metal, let’s define what it is and what it is used for, as well as some physical properties of the metal.

Rebar is commonly used in the construction industry as reinforcement material. Some rebar is built with high quality materials, and is quite strong and predictable as a result.

Most of the time, however, rebar is made from a blend of lower-quality metals, the impacts of which we will discuss as a con of using rebar.

There are several types of rebar available and most are relatively safe for blacksmiths to use. The only type you will want to avoid is galvanized rebar, which produces toxic fumes when heated.


Pros of Forging with Rebar 

Rebar is considered a scrap metal, so you can often find it very cheap or even free! Robert Ashworth / CC BY-SA

A common pro of using rebar is that it is affordable and usually quite easy to find. Since it is considered a scrap metal by most people, you can buy it for low prices or even snag free lengths of it.

New smiths get overwhelmed by the cost of tools and materials, and rebar is a good option because of its affordability and abundance.

For new blacksmiths, rebar is also a suitable practice material. Many advanced blacksmiths advise newbies to perfect their technique on old rebar. This helps smiths save money that would have been wasted on higher-quality metal.

Rebar projects have an industrial, hand-crafted look that is hard to achieve with other metals. Clients often want products with this industrial look, so smiths selling their work might benefit from using rebar.

Rebar is best for design elements on outdoor projects like gates, hooks, and lawn decor.


Cons of Forging with Rebar

A first major con of using rebar for blacksmithing is its unpredictable nature. Most rebar is not made of quality metals and can even contain dangerous fumes when worked.

You can never be sure what the rebar is made of, so final projects can end up brittle.

Rebar projects are not long-lasting or on par with projects made of other metals. For example, rebar knives do not usually hold a sharp edge and may break altogether. Rebar knives are also difficult to heat treat.

If you want to sell your blacksmithing projects, it is better to use high quality steel that will last for years to come.

Beginner smiths practicing with rebar may become frustrated with the metal. Smiths using quality materials create worthwhile finished products even if they aren’t perfect.


Final Thoughts on Forging Rebar

Rebar is a common material used in blacksmithing. It is affordable, easy to find, and good for practice. It is also low quality, unpredictable, and potentially dangerous to work with.

Most projects require higher quality metal, but feel free to make novelty items and practice pieces with safe rebar.

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