Which Metals Are Used in Forging? [Updated]


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Which Metals Can Be Forged? List of Metals Used In Large & Small-Scale Forging

Forging metal is done on a large scale and by small businesses and artisans. The metals used by large-scale manufacturers may differ from metals used by individual blacksmiths and bladesmiths, but it is helpful to know the most common types of metals used across the forging industry.

The history of forging spans thousands of years, and the types of metals used have changed over time as improvements have been made to metals and the forging process as a whole. Below are the most common metals forged and their unique characteristics.

Cold And Hot Forging: Fundamentals And Applications
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Can all Metals Be Forged?  

iron in raw state
Iron in its raw state. This is the most common forging metal. Hi-Res Images ofChemical Elements, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Technically, all metals can be forged. However, only some are appropriate for blacksmithing, bladesmithing, and manufacturing. The forgeability of a metal depends on its molecular structure. Some metals become too soft and structurally weak to be worth working with.

Softer metals like iron, copper, and brass are easy to forge with and create wonderful finished products.

There are no hard and fast rules about what metals can be used for forging, so hobbyists can experiment with different metals when practicing their skills and creating projects. Keep in mind that some metals are not as pure as others (rebar) and may release toxic fumes when heated.

Use caution when forging metal, regardless of the type, as the potential for injury is high when working with fire and hot materials.


Forging Metals for Hobbyists & Large-Scale Manufacturing  

stainless steel pieces
Stainless steel is a shiny, malleable metal commonly used in large-scale forging. Nsudheer324, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Hobbyist and small business owning blacksmiths and bladesmiths forge iron and steel. Iron is an affordable and extremely popular metal, whereas steel is durable and highly resistant. Iron in particular has been used in forging for centuries. Iron stock can be bought inexpensively and scrap pieces can be forged again and again.

Many blacksmiths and bladesmiths also like experimenting with rebar, which is an extremely cheap alternative to iron. This type of metal has mixed results, so use caution if working with rebar.

Brass and copper are softer metals that can be worked in similar ways.

Large-scale manufacturing companies tend to forge carbon steel, alloy steel, stainless steel, and aluminum. Each of these metals has its own unique set of characteristics that make it appropriate for a range of finished products.

Carbon Steel

Contains alloys like chromium, titanium, nickel, tungsten, and cobalt to strengthen it. The amount of carbon content in the steel determines its overall hardness.

Alloy Steel 

Boasts increased strength and wear resistance, making it a highly durable and economical option.

Stainless Steel

Contains a minimum of 10% chromium for corrosion resistance, durability, and formability. Stainless steel has a long lifespan and can withstand extreme temperatures.

Aluminum

A lighter and more cost-effective option. Although lighter than other metals, aluminum can resist heavy corrosion and fracturing.

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