Permaculture Principles and Blacksmithing: Produce No Waste

Produce No Waste

Diverting steel from the waste stream by upcycling rather than recycling or dumping it

The Permaculture Principles Wheel
The twelve principles of permaculture. Source:

One of the core aspects of my business is diverting materials from the waste stream, in accordance with the permaculture principle of “produce no waste.” The most common way for me to do this is to visit the local scrapyard, auto mechanic or farmer and collect scrap steel which I use to forge into new gardening, homesteading and permaculture tools. Having built a local network of connections, I sometimes am gifted with some incredible chunks of metal, and that always brings a smile to my face.

On the blacksmithing end of things, it’s critical that I identify what uses the scrap steel I get is appropriate for. Tools need to be tough and durable, especially the stuff I make as I want it to last generations, rather than weeks or months. With this in mind, a very important step in my creation process is to test the steel I divert from the waste stream.

The accompanying video shares my system for testing scrap steel for its suitability as tool steel. Specifically, I test an old harrow tooth that was rusting away on an old Saskatchewan farm until a client of mine wanted them repurposed into kama (also known as rice knives). He wants to gift these tools to his brothers and sisters as an imperishable memento of the family farm they grew up on.

Without further ado:

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