I happened to find a 20' length of 1/2" ReBar in the woods behind my house (I have magical woods, i also found a 3' length of I-beam I use as an anvil). What kind of carbon content does it have (I imagine not terribly high) and would it be at all useful for making blades, or reserved for making tongs and trinkets (later down the road I'm going to make a caduceus) and the like.

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i just made my first knife not too long ago, i use lump charcoal,great for blacksmithing, and i found out that it only takes you one time, the first hopefully, before you get the knack. needless to say, it didn't turn out how i wanted, but the next one was perfect. the third is coming soon, half way done, and it's doing great. all out of rebar. rebar has semi-low carbon content, good for blades if you aren't putting serious, and i mean quite a bit of stress, on the blade. for anything else like tongs it's perfect! as for a caduceus...sure. don't burn yourself.
th30be4 years ago
Would you have to heat it up or could you just hammer it down with out any type of heat source?
Your not going to be able to hammer out a blade from a cold piece of rebar. Well i guess you could with enough force but you won't be able to produce that force on your own.

Your better of getting the metal red hot before hammering on it to change its shape and composition. Besides forging the metal helps to increase its strength and durability. Its actually the rapid cooling of the metal that hardens it allowing it to hold an edge. A cold hammered knife wouldn't not hold an edge as well.
Alright. Fair enough. I made a charcoal foundry for casting aluminum. Would that give off enough heat to head up the rebar?
Should work if you keep a good and constant airflow in it. You just need to get the bar red hot so its soft enough to hammer on. Once you start working it you gotta keep working it or keep it in the fire. Don't let it cool and don't squelch (quickly dunk it in a bucket of water) it till your done. When you are done then get it good and hot then squelch it. This will help harden the steel.
I have made 3 knives from domestic rebar, 2 were the sharpest knives i've done and the other I scraped because I did not like the design and over ground it. I acid etched the utility knife I made myself and you can see varying patterns like ertched pure iron has but the knife is razor sharp and hardened very well. the other blades had no variations after etching so it might be a good technique to forge your blank to the thickness and shape grind it clean and acid etch to see how much variation there is. I use alot of 1018 to make Iron Age style weapons and it hardenes suprisingly well and wont shatter or break. I recently forged a knife from a steel ring inside of a sement ring and tempered, its sharp as a razor and very easy to re sharpen, its close to Iron Age steel and works very well. Experimenting is the fun part. Hope this helps.
DeusXMachina (author)  norseblacksmith7 years ago
That's really cool. I'm glad I know that now.
lgtwood7 years ago
I'm a newbie here, and I don't know anything about making things from steel, but I do work in a steel mill. The "melts" are called heats and each one is specifically tailored for the product being made. The steel is actually stirred to create consistency before it is cast into billets which are re-heated and rolled into finished product. The chemistry is consistent throughout the heat(about 100 tons). We make 4 grades A706(softest) ,40, 60 and 75.The profile of screws might have happened decades ago, but are impossible these days since our arc furnace works at around 4000 degrees if I remember correctly. Try new rebar from bridge projects or highrise buildings. These sometimes use grade 75. Hope this helps.
OrionBlade7 years ago
I've used rebar to make chisels, knives, and even a punch or two and a screwdriver in a pinch. It doesn't do well as a hot cut chisel, but once sharpened, A friend used a chisel I made for over six months cutting pockets in door jambs and hadn't sharpened it, looked brand new. The knives work great, and I have a pruning knife that I use to cut 1/2 inch diameter branches or smaller, and it's kept an edge quite well with only minor stropping - no re-grinding or anything ridiculous. Modern rebar is fairly consistent even though it's the "dregs" of a melt - once the steel is melted, the carbon/alloy content is fairly continuous throughout the melt. You will not find profiles of screws and the like as some mythology holds. From piece to piece you will find some variance in carbon content, etc. - but in one continuous bar, you're likely to be able to heat treat as though it was W-1 - just be sure you normalize before a quench and you should be fine.
The carbon content in rebar can vary wildly from one spot in a rod to another. You might be lucky enough to hit a uniform patch, but there's always danger of some high sulfur or high phosphorous or just way high carbon section causing cracking at the quench or during use.
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