How to Keep Knives Sharp

How to Keep Your Knives Sharpened

The age-old question of how to sharpen a knife is critical to chefs, barbers, hunters and fishermen, survivalists, and DIYers. Sharpening metal edges requires an abrasive material that is harder than the metal itself – in the form of ceramic or tiny mono- or polycrystalline man-made diamonds glued together to create a sharpening stone.

Sharpening vs. Honing

There’s a difference between honing and sharpening metal knives, and some experts suggest honing a knife every time you use it. Honing doesn’t file down the metal – it just straightens and re-aligns the edge of the blade, removing any microscopic pieces of steel that may have chipped off during use. The sharpening process actually removes metal from the blade by grinding it down to form a beveled edge.


You can try an electric knife-sharpening machine, but generally, those tend to take more metal off your knife than is necessary. Hand sharpening requires a few specialized tools and takes some practice to achieve good results.

Sharpening stones or tools come in a range of grits, and you generally work from coarse to fine to get the sharpest edge.

There are two basic methods to sharpen a knife: hold the knife blade steady and swipe it with a sharpening tool, or fox a flat sharpening stone in place and move the blade across it at the desired angle.

Hold the stone (or the blade) at the correct angle (see below) and starting at the base, pull it towards you in a curving motion, pressing down firmly. Repeat the motion several times on both sides to create an even bevel.

You can eyeball the angle or you can buy one of several different styles of sharpening sets which provide a guide that takes out some of the guesswork, making a more consistent bevel angle along the entire length of the blade.

Choose your Angle

In general, the smaller the bevel angle on a blade, the sharper the edge. But the tradeoff is that a very sharp edge will dull more quickly. For filleting a bass or trout, you need a very sharp edge, so you might sharpen it to an angle of 15 degrees to 17 degrees. A survival knife used for many different types of cutting needs a durable edge, with a bevel of 25 degrees or more. Kitchen knives require precision and are usually sharpened to about 20 degrees.

The Leather Strop

One last step to the entire process is to use a leather strop, which helps remove any microscopic burrs left over from the sharpening process. You may want to use a diamond spray or stropping compound spread on the leather, which helps remove any leftover particles.

Tool steel bar, as the name suggests, is often used to produce tools, including knives. Tool steel is known for its extreme hardness, as well as its abrasion resistance and ability to hold a cutting edge at high temps.

Industrial Metal Supply offers tool steel bar in O-1 and A-2 grades, in square, round, and rectangular cross-sections.

Metal Pipe or Plastic Pipe

Choosing the Right Material: Metal Piping vs Plastic Piping

When planning your next plumbing project, you need to evaluate the various types of pipe for the job. Although stainless steel and brass tubing could be used, most projects will be completed with galvanized metal, copper tubing, or some sort of plastic pipes for plumbing applications.

Lead pipes and lead solder used on copper pipes have been outlawed since 1986, so any new plumbing projects should not cause further problems with lead poisoning, although some types of plastic may absorb chemical contaminants coming from the water system. According to Chemical & Engineering News, all types of pipe materials can impart taste and odors to drinking water, which often can be mitigated by flushing the system.

Benefits of Plastic Pipe

Plastic piping can be made of PVC (polyvinyl chloride), CPVC (chlorinated polyvinyl chloride) or PEX (cross-linked polyethylene). In general, plastic pipe doesn’t rust or corrode, is light in weight, easy to cut and easy to join – no welding required.

PVC piping is a good, low-cost choice for many plumbing projects. It is easy to install, with a range of different methods for joining, such as clamps, mechanical couplings, or solvent welding. PVC outdoor lines can be buried, though they might need extra care to prevent collapse. The main drawback of using PVC piping is that it can’t withstand high temperatures. This means you can’t use it for hot water lines and it’s not rated for drinking water, due to possible heat degradation of the plastic.

CPVC pipe has all the benefits of PVC pipe, plus the added chlorine gives it a higher heat resistance. It is also rated for drinking water, and is flexible, fire resistant, and well insulated to prevent energy loss for either hot or cold water.

PEX tubing resists high heat and is commonly used for radiant hot water heating systems and drinking water lines, though it can’t be directly connected to a hot water heater and requires a short section of copper tubing in between. It is highly flexible, so it can be easily installed through walls and around corners. PEX lasts for decades and withstands freezing temperatures well, resisting cracks due to freezing and thawing of water in the lines.

Benefits of Metal Pipe

Historically, most piping was made from brass, copper, cast iron, or some other metal. Brass and copper have innate corrosion resistance, which makes them excellent choices, but even these have seen problems when the pipes begin to age over decades, often due to lead in the solder used to connect them.

One of the most widely used materials on Earth, steel provides outstanding strength, toughness, and durability. It is a versatile, cost-effective solution for water/sewer plumbing and pipeline systems.

Galvanized Steel Pipe vs. Black Steel Pipe

Galvanized steel pipe features a protective zinc coating that helps prevent corrosion, rust, and the buildup of mineral deposits, thereby extending the pipe’s lifespan. Galvanized steel pipe is most commonly used in plumbing and other water-supply applications. In addition, galvanized pipes are a lower cost alternative to steel, and can achieve rust free protection for up to 30 years while maintaining comparable strength with a durable surface coating.

Black steel pipe contains a dark-colored iron-oxide coating on its entire surface and is used for applications that do not require galvanization protection. Black steel pipe is used primarily for transporting water and gas in rural and urban areas and for delivering high-pressure steam and air. It is commonly used in fire sprinkler systems thanks to its high heat resistance. Black steel pipe is also popular for other water transfer applications, including potable water from wells, as well as in gas lines.

304 Stainless Steel Pipe

304 stainless steel pipe also can be used for transporting liquids. Stainless offers high corrosion resistance, superior durability, high strength-to-weight ratio, fair resistance to thermal and electrical conductivity, ease of fabrication, ease of cleaning, and it is non-magnetic and harden-able by cold working.

Brass Tube/Pipe

Though brass piping is an older material, it’s still used today for water supply and drain lines, as well as gas lines. Brass, an alloy made of copper and zinc, is highly resistant to corrosion, and as long as a lead-free brass alloy is chosen, it should be safe for drinking water. Because it is a fairly soft metal, brass tube/pipe can be installed with a tight seal, preventing leaks.

Industrial Metal Supply carries 304 stainless steel pipe as well as brass and copper tubing and galvanized, coated and uncoated steel pipe. We offer steel pipe products in a range of standard diameters and lengths, including diameters from 1/4-in. to 6-in. and lengths up to 21 ft., as well as cut-to-length services to meet your specific requirements.
Stop by any of our six locations in California and Arizona to check out our inventory, or request a quote for your application.

how to use and read calipers

How to Use and Read Calipers

Dial calipers, digital calipers, and digital micrometers are used to measure the dimensional characteristics of all metals. This article will discuss how to use calipers for measuring metal rod, sheet and plate, how to read calipers, and explain the differences and uses of each.

Dial Calipers

Dial calipers are used for measuring diameters, thicknesses, and lengths of small items. To measure an object, open the dial caliper to fit around its sides, and then close down the caliper until it touches both sides. Reading the caliper scale at 7 and the round dial at 56 means that the object is 756/1000 inches in width or diameter.

Digital Calipers

Digital calipers are used for measuring diameters, thicknesses, and lengths up to six inches. The readout is in inches and thousandths of an inch in decimals. The advantage of a digital readout is for accuracy and repeatability, because the operator is not required to interpret off of a scale. To use the digital calipers, turn them on, make sure it is zeroed out, and then open the calipers to fit around the object. Hold the wheel firmly to tighten both jaws of the caliper against the metal, and read out the measurement on the digital display.

Digital Micrometer

The 0-1” digital micrometer is used to measure diameters or thicknesses up to one inch in diameter, with an accuracy of 0.0001”. To use it, open the micrometer to greater than the thickness to be measured, place the anvils on both sides of the object, and then tighten the spindle to so that the anvils touch both sides of the object. The thickness can be read from the display in thousandths of an inch.

At Industrial Metal Supply, the frequency of inspection for calibration of calipers and micrometers is annual. Visit for all your metal and metalworking needs.

heat conducting metal

Best Metals for Conducting Heat

Thermal conductivity is the term that describes how quickly a material absorbs heat from areas of high temperature and moves it toward areas of lower temperature. The best heat-conducting metals have high thermal conductivity and are useful for many applications, such as cookware, heat exchangers, and heat sinks. On the other hand, metals with a lower rate of heat transfer are also useful where they can act as a heat shield in applications that generate large amounts of heat, such as airplane engines.

Here’s a ranking of heat conducting metals and metal alloys from lowest to highest average thermal conductivity, in Watts/meter-K at room temperature:

  1. Stainless Steel (16)
  2. Lead (35)
  3. Carbon steel (51)
  4. Wrought iron (59)
  5. Iron (73)
  6. Aluminum Bronze (76)
  7. Copper brass (111)
  8. Aluminum (237)
  9. Copper (401)
  10. Silver (429)

Stainless Steel

With one of the lowest thermal conductivities for a metal alloy, stainless takes much longer to conduct heat away from a source than, say, copper. This means that a pot made of stainless would take much longer to heat up food than a copper-bottom pot (though stainless has other benefits). Steam and gas turbines in power plants use stainless steel because of its heat resistance, among other properties. In architecture, stainless steel cladding can resist high temperatures longer, keeping buildings cooler in sunlight.


While aluminum has a slightly lower thermal conductivity than copper, it is lighter in weight, cheaper, and easier to work with, making it a better choice for many applications. For example, microelectronics such as LEDs and laser diodes use tiny heat sinks with aluminum fins that project into the air. Heat generated by the electronics transfers from the chip to the aluminum and then to the air, either passively or with the help of forced airflow convection or a thermoelectric cooler.


Copper has a very high thermal conductivity and is much cheaper and more available than silver, which is the best metal of all for conducting heat. Copper is corrosion resistant and resists biofouling, which makes it a good material for solar water heaters, gas water heaters, and industrial heat exchangers, refrigerators, air conditioners, and heat pumps.

Other factors affecting heat conduction

When considering the best metals for heat conduction, you must also take into account other factors in addition to thermal conductivity, which affect the rate of heat flow. For example, the initial temperature of the metal can make a huge difference to its heat transfer rate. At room temperature, iron has a thermal conductivity of 73, but at 1832°F, its conductivity drops to 35. Other influences include the temperature difference across the metal, the thickness of the metal, and the surface area of the metal.

For the largest selection of metals in the Southwest, contact Industrial Metal Supply.

Data taken from Engineering Toolbox.

placing orders at IMS

Life Of An Order

At Industrial Metal Supply, we strive daily to live up to our slogan “Metal Made Easy.” Our fast response to customer needs is well-known, and businesses and consumers alike enjoy our clean and organized way of doing things, as well as our helpful and timely service.

Our six convenient locations throughout Southern California and Arizona each include a store that is open six days a week to wholesale and DIY enthusiasts alike. We stock everything from aluminum, steel, stainless, and other raw metals, to welding, cutting, grinding tools & more. We are your one-stop shop for metal materials and first-step processing, including laser cutting metal services, custom cut stainless steel sheet, and aluminium plate cut to size.

In this article, we’ll show you exactly what happens to your order from the moment you request a quote to the time it’s delivered to its final destination.

Request a Quote

You can contact any of our locations by phone to request a quote. Or use our online request for quote form, filling in any comments, questions or details and uploading any documents with your specs.

All quote requests are returned promptly, and orders are processed for same day or next day delivery. Items not in inventory will be transferred immediately from another facility or brokered from one of our partners to meet the customer’s request.

IMS has no minimum purchase requirements. For payment, we accept debit or credit cards, or our credit staff will immediately set you up with Industrial Metal Supply credit lines with good terms.

Once An Order is Placed

Once the completed order with payment is received, our highly experienced staff enters the work order into our system and immediately begins processing the metal. All of our locations feature high-end equipment and a trained staff ready to meet your processing needs.

IMS provides high-precision metal processing services, including cutting, sawing, and shearing, hi-def plasma, waterjet, flat-bed laser, and tube laser cutting, as well as threading, grooving, hole punching, notching, and other services.

Our cutting and processing capabilities will save you time and money. Request a quote on metal processing services, or contact us to discuss your custom requirements.

Additional Services

We offer first-class customer support services including support of lean operations, Kanban, and Just-in-Time manufacturing processes. We also provide material management (stocking and delivery on a scheduled basis). Our sales professionals can act as an extension of your purchasing department, tracking down any hard-to-find metal products you need.

We offer five different methods for getting your metal to you:


For processed materials, we provide next day delivery with our trucks throughout Southern California, Arizona, and northern Mexico via brokers (Nogales and Tijuana). If you place your call Monday through Friday we most often can deliver a processed order the next day at or before noon. Our forty trucks serving these areas daily have a very high success rate at meeting our delivery promise times – averaging over 95% companywide.

Will Call

Any time we are open you can call in your order, including cut orders, and make arrangements to pick it up in Will-Call at any of our six locations that same day. Our sales reps will let you know how long it will take to pull and package your order, and will give you a promise time. If desired, we can also send a text when your order is ready for pick up.


Our six stores are open six days a week and stock thousands of items, including precut sizes so you can pick up anything from a small round bar of aluminum or copper, to wrought iron pickets, to metal cleaners. We have been called a One Stop Metal Shop and if you stop by you will know immediately why customers have said this for more than sixty years.


We ship anywhere in the U.S. If you have any questions please contact us via email and we’ll get back to you quickly.


If you can’t pick it up in Will-Call or you live outside our delivery areas, we can use the US Post Office, UPS, or common carrier to get your metal safely and efficiently to you.

Please see our other terms and conditions before ordering.

Since 1948, Industrial Metal Supply has worked to partner with its customers, and the long term relationships that we’ve shared for years illustrate just that – we try to consistently exceed our customer’s expectations. Contact us today for all your metal needs.

what you didn't know about structural steel

What You Don’t Know About Structural Steel

Structural steel beams form the backbone of many construction projects. But what is structural steel and how is it used?

Many people don’t know that structural steel is not one single alloy. Different concentrations of alloying elements are added to accomplish different objectives. Here are some of the most commonly found structural steel alloys:

Cold Rolled ASTM-A1008 is a low carbon steel material that comes in formed shapes such as channel and angle, for general structural applications. The additional steps for cold rolling give the steel a finer finish and improved dimensional accuracy.

Hot rolled (HR) ASTM-A36 mild (low-carbon) steel contains up to 27% carbon – more than standard mild steel. It has a minimum yield point of 36K, and is easily weldable and formable. It is one of the most widely used structural steels in a range of applications, including support frames, machinery and equipment braces, and transportation frames. HR A36 is also available in Galvanized form, for added corrosion resistance.

Hot rolled (HR) ASTM-A529 Grade 50 steel is stronger than A36, meeting the standard of 50K minimum yield strength. This steel is used for supports and structural components in bridges, buildings and other structures requiring increased strength. It can be welded, bolted, riveted, machined and fabricated easily.

Structural Cross Sections

Structural steel comes in different cross sections, including channel, angle, beam, and tee. These cross sectional shapes can either be formed or welded. Because they’re available in a huge variety of sizes and styles, steel structural shapes are used to build everything from furniture to skyscrapers. Common applications include:

  • Marine piers
  • Architecture & building construction
  • Shipbuilding
  • Truck trailers & shipping containers
  • Furniture
  • Heavy equipment
  • and more

Steel Angle Shape

Angle – Steel angle is available in different grades, including Cold Rolled ASTM A-1008, Hot Rolled ASTM-A36 Steel Angle, and Galvanized A36. Steel angle is used for a wide range of applications, including construction equipment, farm implements, manufacturing and repair, and fabrication. Its 90° angled shape adds an abundance of strength and rigidity to numerous projects and it is easy to weld, cut, form and machine.

Tee Shape

Tee – The “T” shape of hot rolled steel tee makes it favorable for applications where large loading bearing capabilities are a must, including fabrication, manufacturing, frames, trailers, etc. The top (flange) provides compressive stress resistance while the vertical section (web) resists shear stresses and bending. This product is also easy to weld, cut, form and machine.

Channel Shape

Channel – Steel channel can be constructed with cold rolled mild steel, hot rolled mild steel or hot rolled ASTM-A36 steel alloy. The interior may be fabricated with radius corners or 90° angled corners. Hot rolled steel channel has a mild steel structural C shape with inside radius corners that are ideal for all types of structural applications. The shape of this product is also ideal for added strength and rigidity over steel angle when a project’s load is vertical or horizontal, and can be easily welded, cut, formed and machined.

Beam Shape

Beam – Hot rolled steel I-beams provide great load bearing support when used horizontally or standing as columns. They are also used regularly throughout the construction industry when heavy load support is required, such as bridges and skyscrapers.

Industrial Metal Supply offers a full line of durable, long-lasting, and versatile structural steel shapes, including steel channel, steel angle, steel beams, and steel tees, a range of standard sizes and lengths. We also provide cut-to-length services as needed to give you steel shapes that match your design requirements.

where do metals come from

Where Do Metals Come From?

To answer the question of where metals come from, first we need to define the word, “metal.” Pure metals are basic elements of matter. There are 118 known elements either found in nature or created in the lab. Most of these elements are metals, but there are a small number of non-metal elements, such as carbon, and a few “in-between” elements, called metalloids.

What Are Metals?

Metals have certain physical properties that distinguish them from non-metals and metalloids. The most obvious difference is that metals conduct heat and electricity very well. They are typically hard when solid, and have a glossy shine. Another important quality of metals is that they are ductile, which means they can be hammered, or worked, into different shapes. They also can be melted and cast into molds, or cut with machine tools to create useful objects.

All of the metals that we find on Earth originated billions of years ago. Inside the ultra-hot environment of the stars, simple hydrogen and helium atoms fused together to create heavier elements. After the original stars exploded, dust and gas from the explosion found its way to our local galaxy and was caught up in the making of our own solar system. Particles swirling around the new sun clumped together into planets, including Earth.

How Do You Make Metal?

A lot of the metal on Earth, especially iron, is found in its core. Metal is scattered unevenly throughout the Earth’s crust, mixed with rock and combined with oxygen and other elements. Some types of rock, such as granite, only hold trace amounts of metal. The metal we use to make buildings, computers, cars and trucks, and many other products comes from underground deposits of mineral ores containing high concentrations of metal.

The earliest humans discovered small bits of naturally abundant metals, such as copper, tin and gold, which they hammered into ornaments and other objects. They learned to mix metals together to create new metals, called alloys, which improved their characteristics. For example by mixing copper with tin, they created bronze, which is much harder and better for weapons than pure copper. An important metal alloy is steel, which is iron mixed with small amounts of carbon.

How Metal Alloys Are Made

The first step in making metal alloys starts with mining the ore from the ground. The ore must then be processed to extract the metal from non-metals, such as rock. The extraction process may include:

  • crushing the ore into powder
  • heating it to high temperatures
  • rinsing it with water or a chemical bath
  • filtering the sludge
  • precipitating out the liquid
  • applying an electric current to break strong chemical bonds

Once the metal has been extracted, it can be used for an enormous number of purposes, from aluminum cans to steel scaffolding, from galvanized roofs to electronic circuits.

For a wide assortment of metal bar, sheet, plate, tubes, pipe, and other shapes, in aluminum, steel, stainless steel, cast iron, brass, and bronze, visit Industrial Metal Supply.

Tips to Advance Welding Skills

7 Tips to Advance your Welding Skills

Whatever your project – whether mending a metal fence or repairing teeth on a backhoe bucket, the following advanced welding tips will help you get the job done faster, and with less waste and effort.

1. Make Good Use of Magnets

Choose from a wide range of specialized magnets or clamps to use as “third hands.” These can securely hold welding tabs, brackets or gussets to the workpiece, lids on a box, or corners perpendicular during the welding process. Use an adjustable welding table to support smaller items. Don’t remove magnets until the weld has completely cooled, so that the hot metal doesn’t shrink and ruin the alignment.

2. Welding Out of Position

If you can’t fix your workpiece in a comfortable, flat welding position using magnets and clamps, it’s important to remember that the weld puddle may drip. If welding overhead, move quickly and steadily using a circular motion but keep the puddle narrow. To allow the puddle to cool faster, maintain a lower electrode temperature by reversing polarity, and use less voltage so that the puddle remains small.

3. Completely Clean Out the Area to Be Repaired

Impurities such as oil, grease, dust, and moisture, can cause problems later if they are absorbed into the metal. Clean out the area thoroughly using a sander or wire brush and wipe away any debris. If repairing cracks, grind them out with a grinder before welding. Where the shape and size of the crack make it impossible to reach the bottom, use a slower welding speed, which allows time for impurities, such as hydrogen bubbles, to rise to the surface before they become trapped.

4. Beware of Hydrogen

Hydrogen is the enemy, when it comes to welding. Certain metals, such as high-strength steel, are more susceptible to hydrogen cracking, which may occur long after the weld is completed. Welding thick or highly restrained pieces can also cause cracking. Before welding, seek and destroy any alien material, such as paint, dust, or grease. Then preheat the metal before, during, and even after welding for a few hours. This slows down the cooling time so that more hydrogen can escape before the metal solidifies.

5. Bead-Laying Tips

With stick welding, it’s important to run a straight bead by keeping an even travel speed – and maintain the angle of the rod so that the slag trails behind. When you get to the end of the weld, run the rod back in the other direction an inch or so, in order to prevent a crater developing that could crack later.

6. Choose the Best Electrode for the Job

For general use stick welding, choose a 6011 electrode, but for thinner material, go with a 6013. Rod diameter should be higher for thicker metal and smaller for thinner stock.

In the case of high-carbon or other high-alloy steels that are harder to weld, it’s important to use low-hydrogen electrodes. Be sure to leave them in the package until the last minute, to expose them to air for as short a time as possible.

7. Be Aware of Aluminum Welding Differences

When welding aluminum, different materials and techniques are required. Aluminum should be welded with either a TIG or MIG process. Before welding, remove oxides from the aluminum surface using a stainless steel brush and solvents. These oxides have a very high melting temperature, which can inhibit the filler from welding with the metal. Use only argon-helium or argon gas to shield the weld. Preheat the area, but don’t overheat, which could cause burn-through. At the end of the weld, don’t leave a crater, which will inevitably lead to cracking. Instead back weld for an inch or so.

For all your welding supplies, including tools, consumables, and accessories, visit Industrial Metal Supply.

how to make tool steel

How Tool Steel is Made

Tool steel, as the name suggests, is often used to produce and repair machine tools and hand tools (among other applications). Known for its extreme hardness, tool steel has good abrasion resistance and can hold a cutting edge at high temperatures.

Different grades of tool steel are made by adding different amounts of carbon, as well as other elements such as chromium, tungsten, and molybdenum. Each type and form of steel is produced with different methods, depending on the characteristics desired.

The most popular forms of tool steel are O-1 and A-2 tool steels, which are both part of the cold-work group of tool steels.

  • O-1 is a general purpose oil-hardening steel with good hardness, strength, and wear resistance. It is mainly used for items like knives and forks.
  • A-2 is an air hardening steel with good machinability along with a balance of wear resistance and toughness. A-2 is the most common variety of air-hardening steel and is often used for blanking and forming punches, trimming dies, and injection mold dies.
  • How to Make Tool Steel

    The basic process of making tool steel starts with recycled steel scrap which is melted in an electric arc furnace, along with any alloying elements. The molten mixture is poured into a giant ladle and mixed with chemicals to prevent oxidation. After impurities are removed through this refining stage, the steel is allowed to flow down into large molds to make ingots.

    After un-molding, the red-hot ingots are forged with huge mechanical dies to press them into the desired size and shape. The finished forgings are annealed by re-heating to reduce internal stresses formed during the forging process. Then they are allowed to cool slowly either in water, air, or an oil bath, allowing the metal crystals to re-form. This annealing process keeps the steel soft enough to work without cracking. It can then be cold- or hot-rolled into the desired shape.

    Advanced Methods

    An alternative method of making tool steel is to position the ladle of hot molten steel over a vertical open-ended mold. The molten steel runs down through the cooled mold, and begins to harden near the mold’s inner surface. As more steel passes through the mold, the partially hardened metal continues to move down and then out onto water-cooled rollers. The result is a long, continuous bar or rod of steel.

    For a tool steel with better surface quality and fewer imperfections, manufacturers use a process called electro-slag re-melting (ESR). Giant water-cooled molds are filled with a pool of heated slag containing reactive chemicals. A consumable steel ingot, called an electrode, is lowered down into the slag. An electric current passed through the electrode causes it to melt, its liquid drops of steel pulled by the current towards the bottom of the mold. As the drops flow downward through the hot slag, impurities react with chemicals in the pool and float to the top. Only pure steel droplets reach the bottom, where they solidify and eventually build up a homogeneous steel ingot inside the mold.

    Another, more advanced process uses powdered metal to form tool steel with improved hardening and machinability. This process has better results for tool steel with higher percentages of carbon and alloying material, required for applications such as aerospace components.

    Industrial Metal Supply offers tool steel bar in O-1 and A-2 grades. Note that not all sizes and alloys are stocked in every IMS location, but we can get it to you in any case.

    tips for preventing rust

    6 Tips For Preventing Rust

    Rust is the name for the orange-brown flakes of iron oxide that form on the surface of any metal containing iron that is exposed to air and water. It is a type of corrosion that can be highly destructive, as well as unsightly. In this article, we will share tips on how to prevent rust.

    The rusting process begins when iron reacts with oxygen in the presence of water, saltwater, acids, or other harsh chemicals. As the iron oxide flakes off the metal surface, it exposes fresh iron molecules, which continue the reaction process. Eventually, large areas of rust form that may cause the entire metal structure to disintegrate.

    A ferrous metal is one that contains iron and only iron can rust. Common ferrous metals include carbon steel (1018, 12L14), alloy steel (4130), and stainless steel (304, 316). Non-ferrous metals, such as aluminum and copper, contain little if any iron, and so cannot rust, though they can corrode.

    Keep It Clean and Dry

    Water is enemy number one when it comes to rust, because it’s the oxygen in water molecules that combines with iron to form iron oxide. That’s why metals left outdoors, such as cars, gates, or tanks, are more likely to rust. If the object is located in a humid indoors environment, such as a garage or basement, install a dehumidifier. Any type of mud or dirt adhered to the surface can hold water, so it’s important to keep metals clean.

    Prevent Scratches

    Scratches or cracks in the metal expose more metal and hold water, allowing it to remain in contact with the iron. This is why cold rolled steel is more corrosion resistant than hot rolled steel, because cold rolling creates a smoother surface without texture that can trap and hold water.

    Apply A Protective Coating

    Dipping metal objects, such as clocks, into a bluing solution of water, sodium hydroxide, and potassium nitrate, provides strong corrosion resistance. Commercially available rust prevention products in the form of aerosol sprays or cloth wipes also can protect metal objects, including tools, outdoor gear, vehicles, and large metal parts.

    Use Stainless Steel

    Stainless steel alloys contain iron, but it resists rust because it also contains a high percentage of chromium which is even more reactive than iron. The chromium in the alloy oxidizes quickly to form a protective layer of chromium oxide on the metal surface which prevents oxygen from reaching the underlying steel.

    Use Galvanized Metal

    Galvanization is a process used to preserve steel rust-free for many years. In the galvanizing process, a piece of steel is coated with liquid zinc. The zinc protects the steel in three different ways. First, the zinc coating acts as a barrier preventing oxygen and water from reaching the steel. Second, even if the coating is scratched off, the zinc continues to protect nearby areas of the metal through cathodic protection. And third, zinc is highly reactive to oxygen and quickly forms a protective coating of zinc oxide which prevents the iron from further oxidation.

    Regular Maintenance

    Because rust spreads quickly, it’s important to scrape it off as soon as it appears. Then, scrub with warm water and soap and apply a metal conditioner or other protective coating to prevent further oxidation. If necessary, apply a new coat of paint to the area.

    Industrial Metal Supply is the Southland’s largest supplier of all types of metal and metalworking accessories, including rust prevention products.