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5 Reasons To Choose Cold Rolled Steel For Your Next Armor Making Project

by Luke Lawson

Whether you are a fighter in a medieval reenactment group or a cosplayer with an eye for realism, building real metal armor can become an expensive hobby. Instead of skimping on metal and using the least expensive materials you can find, spend a little more for cold rolled steel. This materials offers five distinct benefits to the armor maker, making it well worth the price.

More Accurate Measurements

Heating up the steel during the hot rolling process makes it easier to flatten and even out, but it also causes the metal to shift in shape and thickness. This means that the measurements of a specific slab of metal are less accurate when the material is hot rolled instead of cold rolled. A cold rolled steel sheet will have straighter edges and stay closer to perfectly square, reducing the amount of costly metal you waste while cutting armor pieces. The cold processed metal also deforms less when being dished and trimmed.

Tougher Material

Sheet metal manufacturers that heat the metal to shape it also end up annealing the steel, which leaves it soft and malleable. Armor made from this steel requires even heat treating over the entire piece to properly harden it, especially if you plan to use it in live combat. Cold rolled steel is already hardened from the force of the rollers that flattened it out, eliminating the need to buy an oven or kiln just to finish your work.

The extra hardness of cold rolled steel also reduces mistakes during the shaping steps. Soft hot treated metal shows hammer marks and deforms too quickly when being worked sometimes, making it harder for beginners. 

Easier Finishing

Want to patina your armor for an aged look or coat the pieces in a colorful layer of paint to match your favorite video game character? Stick with cold rolled metal. The heating process for hot rolled steel leaves the surface coated in a rough black or dark blue layer known as scale. You must sand, buff, and grind off every trace of that residue before you can do any kind of decorative finishing. Cold rolled steel comes with a clean, light gray surface ready to get treated or painted.

Fewer Impurities

When the manufacturers are relying only on the pressing powers of big rollers to give steel sheets a smooth and clean looking finish, they must start with pure and well-mixed alloys. Extra impurities like bits of slag and chunks of collected carbon would show up very clearly after cold processing, while the hot version of rolling blends the impurities into the material instead. These impurities affect your work the most when you're forging, or heating up and hammering, the metal into shape.

Better Availability

Aside from being useful for hobby armor making, cold rolled steel is used to make

  • Desks, file cabinets, and other pieces of furniture folded from large sheets of metal
  • Storage chests for organizing tools in garages and workshops
  • Shelving, including heavy duty units for warehouses
  • Body panels for lawnmowers, tractors, and other pieces of heavy equipment

Since there are so many uses for this type of steel, it is usually easier to find than hot rolled metal. This can reduce shipping costs dramatically when you're trying to buy a roll of sheet metal weighing 50 to 100 pounds. Buying your metal locally and picking it up also lets you get back to working on the armor faster.

Don't be overwhelmed by all the different formulas for cold rolled steel. The supplier can help you decide which alloy blend is best for your purposes, depending on whether you're simply dishing and shaping the metal cold or heating it up on a forge. Different levels of carbon and other metals affect the characteristics of the types of steel, but they can all undergo cold rolling when the manufacturer forms it into sheets. For more information, contact a local manufacturer, like A & C Metals - Sawing