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Which Steel Alloy Are The Red And Bastard?


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Does anyone know what specific steel alloys the red nail and bastard are? I have been reading about different alloys and I believe yield strength is the main factor in bend difficulty given a similar size bar. The denomination of Cold rolled vs hot rolled does not help allot either. Cold rolled certainly results in a much higher yield strength over hot rolled given the same alloy so the reputation and division is justified. But there is such a large difference in the strengths of different alloys that a strong alloy that is hot rolled can be much stronger than a weaker one cold rolled.

I figure there isn't much chance of getting the info on the red short of bringing one to a metallurgist but I thought maybe Mr. Beatty might chime in with the stats on the bastard. If so is the rest of the cold rolled steel range and square the same alloy? Also what alloy is the stainless and is the stainless square the same?

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Hi Tim. I don't know for sure what the Red or the Bastard are, besides the general 5/16"X7" CRS. I know from my Fastenal and McMaster purchases that 1045 is super hard CRS. 12L15 is pretty soft. 1018 is hard, but easier than 1045.

Stainless-304 is quite a bit softer than Stainless-303. 303 is most likely what the Shiny Bastards are. You can usually buy SS-304 from Fastenal, and SS-303 from McMaster. Drill Rod is pretty hard stuff too but is easier than either of the Stainless types. I have only bent 1045 in the 1/4" diameter because I haven't found it in 5/16" or 3/8" yet. But I can tell you the 1/4" 1045 is much harder than the 1/4" Drill Rod. It might be the same way with 5/16" when I find some.

The softest hardware store CRS is National brand. Comparable to a batch of "easy" Bastards. SteelWorks CRS is usually pretty solid and consistent stuff. But the steel from Fastenal has always felt harder than the stuff that you buy in hardware stores. I can always find 1018 and 1045 (in 1/4") at my Fastenal. I get both and use them for different purposes.

Not sure about the Stainless Square because I bought some from Fastenal the other day in 1/4" and 5/16" and it's very hard stuff. Probably not the same type that FBBC carries. I wasn't able to find out what type (303-304-316?) the Fastenal Stainless Square was though. I can tell you that I cut a 7" piece off the 1/4" with bolt cutters and it blasted off like it had been shot out of a rocket launcher. That's usually a good sign that the steel is very hard...take it from a guy who's cut thousands of pieces of steel with bolt cutters.

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These are the standard minimum yield strengths I have found for these steel alloys

Grade2 = 57 kpsi / 1018 = 56 kpsi / 1045 = 73 kpsi / grade 5 = 92 kpsi / grade 8 = 130 kpsi

The10xx series is plain carbon steel where the xx is the percent in tenths of carbon. 1018 = 0.18 percent carbon content and 1045 = 0.45 percent. Carbon is what makes iron into steel so it makes sense that more carbon content makes stronger steel.

I am thinking they are both probably 1045 or similar, right smack between a g2 and a g5.

The exact carbon content and amount of work hardening that comes from the cold processing can vary a bit and probably account for different steel plants having variance in the same grade of steel and also variance from batch to batch from the same plant.

I am having a harder time finding out more detailed information about stainless. I know what you mean about cutting it though. The harder it is the more abruptly it snaps, hardness is directly related to carbon content which allows hardening and also the amount it has actually been work hardened. Both increase yield strength, so that makes sense as well.

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Sounds like you're on the right track. I've heard the Red is 1040 and that's probably right.

John's never said on the bastard but I've had 1018 cal'd at identical levels. You can have 1018 that's harder than higher carbon stuff depending on several things. 1018 is the most common.

I had national 5/16 crs cal'd at 330 lbs which like Ben said is the lightest and steelworks hit 380. My 1018 hit 445 which is pretty solid.

Drill rod is 1095 but since it's annealed or stress relieved, it doesn't have that drawn strength factor that CRS has for comparible carbon.

Alot depends on manufacturer too. These numbers are minimums too so you may have 1018 that has a much higher yield.

FYI, I think the F911 has a 150,000 yield.


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I would like to make a chart comparing the theoretical minimum yield strengths and actual calibration results to see how reliable this rating is for judging steel toughness sometime.

I also got some aluminum online, I got a longer 1/2" to scroll and short 5/8" to try and spike bend. I didn't research aluminum alloys too closely first but got one with high tensile strength so the scroll wouldn't rip apart, and it didn't but the yield was also like 40 something kpsi compared to most common aluminum which is in the low 20's. A36 is in the 30's so this stuff is harder than a36 hrs. Needless to say I couldn't scroll the 1/2" the way I wanted and the 5/8" is going nowhere fast.

I calculated though based upon the weaker 3/8" aluminum I have bent unbraced that 5/8" of that should be slightly easier than 7/16" of the steel I have. This aluminum is comparable to weak steel though. It is 2024 T351 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2024_aluminum

Imagine some 7075 T6? That is what they used to use for aluminum con rods in drag racing. 63-69 kpsi, that is probably close to red and bastard strength in aluminum. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/7075_aluminum

Another potentially useful # could be elongation percent, this might tell us whether a given bar will bend or snap if we can get a good list of stuff that bends and stuff that breaks to compare the numbers.

As a side question for the geekier among you, it's been a while since I took physics how would you theoretically calculate calibration results from yield strength? yield x cross sectional area will give you the strength but I am not entirely sure how to proceed from there, a torque equation using half the nail length and halving the result for each hand maybe?

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