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What is a Steel Blank?

By M. Haskins
Updated May 17, 2024
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In metalworking, a steel blank is an unfinished piece of metal that has been stamped out of a larger piece of material. A steel blank requires further shaping, by hand tools or machines, and can be made into a great variety of objects, for example, saws, keys, plaques or automotive parts. One form of steel blank commonly available for hobby metal-craftsmen is a knife blade blank. Knife blade blanks are available in different kinds of steel, shapes and sizes. Some require only the addition of a handle, while others need further shaping, tempering and sharpening of the metal to finish the knife.

Regular steel is an alloy consisting mostly of iron and carbon, and is sometimes called carbon steel. Blanks used for knife-making and other purposes are most commonly available in carbon steel and stainless steel. Stainless steel is an alloy containing chromium, making the metal corrosion-resistant.

Steel grade is an important consideration when choosing a steel blank for a project. The grade is a way to classify the metal's physical properties, specifically ductility, tensile strength, and hardness. Ductility refers to malleability, tensile strength to how much force it takes to pull the material apart, and hardness to how difficult it is to scratch or dent the material.

Hardness is often measured using the Rockwell C Scale, where higher numbers indicate harder steel. For example, a steel blank used for knife-making commonly has a hardness of 56-58. Harder steel will make knives or tools with sharper edges, but is also more difficult to work with and requires special equipment for shaping and sharpening.

A steel blank made from carbon steel or stainless steel is relatively easy to work with and inexpensive. There are many other kinds of steel alloys also commonly used for steel blanks, including knife blade blanks, such as talonite and stellite. These two alloys are both more expensive and have a higher degree of hardness than regular steel. Damascus steel is another type of steel specifically used for knife and sword blanks, and consists of layers of iron and steel welded together.

The kind of steel blank that is appropriate for a project depends on what is being made and what price one is willing to pay for the material. In the case of knives, some types of blanks work well for general purpose knives or butter knives, while other blanks are preferable for other purposes. Steel blanks can be bought online, by mail-order from various suppliers, or in metal shops.

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Discussion Comments
By Fiorite — On Aug 06, 2011

I have a few metal working tools, and I make belt buckles out of steel blanks. I have made all kinds of creative belt buckles for family and friends, and they are often conversation pieces. Working with metal is a fun, self-taught hobby that I picked up a few years ago. One day, I will teach my son how to use all of these tools so he can learn to make things with metal. Who knows...maybe one day these skills will come in handy.

By Babalaas — On Aug 05, 2011

@GenevaMech- If you do a web search for knife making supplies, you can find a number of suppliers that have blanks of all shapes, sizes and qualities. You can buy everything from plain steel to Damascus steel blades. You can also find different wood inlays and veneers for adorning your knives.

Knife making is a popular hobby, so a good hobby supply shop will likely have or be able to find what you need. I made a nice pocketknife with an ironwood and turquoise inlay handle. I used powdered turquoise blended with epoxy to create the inlay, and a small carving tool to make the grooves for the inlay pattern. The knife was nothing near a perfect blade, but the project was fun and I still have the knife seven years later.

By GenevaMech — On Aug 04, 2011

Where can I buy knife blanks? Making a knife would be a fun project, but I do not have a forge or any heavy-duty fabricating equipment. I would like to find blanks that I can shape with basic power tools and a dremmel. I have all of the supplies for knife sharpening, and I have the tools necessary to make a nice wood or bone handle.

I would like to find forged, full tang blanks for a large kukri or survival knife. I want to make something that will last a lifetime, that I can take when I go camping and hunting.

By ValleyFiah — On Aug 04, 2011

@framemaker- I have an '07 F150 super cab and an '09 FJ that I had a body shop fabricate custom skid plates. I spent about $1000 to have the both vehicles plated from front to back. I live in the desert and do a lot of rock crawling so plates and rock rails are necessary. I had the fabricator at the machine shop measure, cut, and shape the plates. Once they were shaped, I fitted them to the frame, drilled the holes, and installed them with plate bolts from the dealership. The process was not very hard, and I had them installed in a couple of hours.

I know that you can use the FX4 plates on your 150 without a lift. You can check with the dealership for parts numbers for front plates, tank plates, transfer case plates, clips, and bolts. You will likely spend more than it costs to fabricate plates from steel blanks, but it is a bolt-on option that requires no cutting or drilling to install. The factory plates are also not heavy-duty plates, so big enough rocks can bend them.

The final tip I will give you is to make sure you get plates that have a hatch or hole for the oil filter. This will make the job of maintaining your vehicle much easier.

By FrameMaker — On Aug 03, 2011

Has anyone ever made a custom skid plate out of a steel blank? I have a ford f-150 that I want to add skid plates too. I have installed a 3-inch lift, big wheels, air intake, exhaust, and a new rear end. The only skid plate set I have been able to find only works with a pro-comp 6-inch lift. I do not want a higher lift, so I need to fabricate something. Does anyone know how to fabricate a plate, or where I can find a plate that will fit?

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