The Advantages and Disadvantages of Different Crowbar Materials The Advantages and Disadvantages of Different Crowbar Materials
Before you decide which crowbar to purchase, you should consider the advantages and disadvantages of different materials. Obtain the best value by paying the minimum price for a tool that will best meet your needs. The optimal qualities of your new crowbar depend on who will use it, for what purpose, how often and for how long. For example, a petite interior decorator who needs to pull up carpet tack strip every day for years might prefer a lightweight and durable titanium crowbar. On the other hand, a rugged construction laborer working on a one-time demolition job can get by with a cheap, heavy iron bar.
Iron tools are simple to make, and they have been around since at least the 15th century. They are also the cheapest option. However, tools made from iron are highly susceptible to corrosion by the elements. If exposed to water or sunlight, the crowbar will rust or become brittle. Furthermore, although iron is certainly a strong metal, it is relatively weak compared to other materials used in commercial toolmaking. You can expect iron crowbars to deform from the stress of use more rapidly than crowbars made from steel or titanium.
Steel is an alloy of iron and other metals such as nickel or tungsten. Steel contains between 0.2 and 2.1 percent carbon. Steel with a high carbon content is stronger and harder than iron. One type of steel, known as spring steel, contains a low amount of alloy metals and a medium amount of carbon. Spring steel is popular for use in crowbars because of its high yield strength. Yield strength is a measure of the stress at which a metal begins to deform. Carbon steel crowbars are very affordable; a brand new 36-inch bar sells for under $20. Unfortunately, carbon steel is also susceptible to corrosion from the elements.
Stainless steel is an alloy of steel containing at least 11 percent chromium, which forms an oxide on the surface that seals the interior of the crystal lattice structure from corrosion. Therefore, stainless steel crowbars will not rust or discolor from exposure to water, sunlight, or oxygen. Again, because stainless steel tools are harder to make than simple iron tools, they necessarily cost more.
Titanium is the ideal crowbar material but also the most expensive. Titanium is lighter than steel but stronger at the same time. Titanium tools generally weigh less than 40 percent of the weight of a steel tool of the same size. Titanium is less dense than steel and also has a lower modulus of elasticity, which is a measurement of malleability. This means titanium tools will yield to pressure and reform elastically, whereas steel and iron tools eventually become brittle and snap.
Titanium will not rust or spark when struck against a hard surface. However, because titanium is nonferrous, it can not be magnetized. Of course, the high strength of titanium makes it difficult to work with. It must be shaped with specialized tools in an environment of inert gas. This pushes the cost of titanium crowbars higher than $50 or even $75.