Steel is basically carbonated iron. The amount of carbon (and other metals) determines the metal’s strength and flexibility.
The name can tell you a lot. The numbering system for steel indicates what the iron has been combined with.
|Plain Carbon Steels||10XX||1095|
|Nickel Chromium Steels||3XXX||3150|
|Chromium Vanadium Steels||6XXX||6150|
|Silicon Manganese Steels||9XXX||9160|
Types of Steel Used in Blacksmithing
Hot Rolled or Cold Rolled Steel?
Bottom line: Either will work just fine. Hot rolled should be cheaper.
“Cold rolled steel is more expensive than hot rolled it is typically 1018 alloy steel. It is descaled and rolled cold this gives it a silvery finish and it is more precisely sized than hot rolled. It is work hardened from the cold rolling process this can make cold work difficult. It tends to be easier to forge hot than hot rolled/A36 due to its lower carbon and alloy content. Hot rolled steel tends to have a high scrap content therefore its working properties can vary some being soft and some being quite hard. It has a blue black finish due to the surface being covered in scale. It is generally harder to forge than cold rolled though it is cheaper and comes in longer lengths.
“Hot rolled A36 is pretty much the same as cold rolled A36. Cold rolled has prior work hardening but as soon as it’s come up to temp in the forge the work hardening is gone and the unscaled surface is gone too.”
“If you’re planning to forge it, cold rolled has no advantage over hot rolled. The things that are different about it (cold rolled) are: It’s work hardened by rolling, it has little/no mill scale, and it has tighter tolerances on the dimensions. You’ll undo all of those by forging, so don’t pay extra for them.”