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.