Whether you are a metalworker by trade or a hobbyist, you know that every piece of metal has different qualities. Different metals react uniquely to certain conditions, making it important to know which metal is the right fit for your goals. If you are new to metalworking or need a refresher, read on for the qualities of how to choose the right metal for your project.
Strength & Hardness
In the metalworking world, strength and hardness are two different qualities that you need to be aware of. A metal’s strength depends on how much stress can be applied before the material warps or breaks entirely. Hardness, on the other hand, measures how resistant a material is to this warping or fracture. Both strength and hardness are integral to choosing the working materials for your project. Whether you are a hobbyist working with metal or a professional in a workshop, testing material hardness is something that is important for all levels of metalworking.
Machinability judges how easily your materials will be to cut and work with. A material that falls on the higher end of the machinability scale will be easy to cut at high speeds with more affordable tools. This scale is important for hobbyists and handyman metalworkers who may not have access to a wide variety of saws, as they would want to choose materials that have higher machinability. However, if you work in a metalworking shop with access to more cutting tools, machinability won’t affect your material choices as heavily.
Aesthetics & Appearance
While not the most important quality of your materials, the appearance of a metal will greatly dictate how your project looks in the end. Are you going for a smooth and shiny finish for your metalworking? In this case, try using stainless steel or aluminum for that chrome finish. On the other hand, if the metal wouldn’t be seen or if you didn’t mind a rough finish, cast iron would do just fine. The choice of material usually depends on cost, availability, and ease of obtaining; weigh these factors with the aesthetic direction you are hoping to achieve.
On both the hobbyist level and the professional level, metalworking resources are not cheap. This is why it is so important to know how to choose the right metal for your project before you select your materials. Hopefully, this guide has given you some insight on what to consider before you make your selection.