Being new I have only been taught to grid and it seems to work. I am sure I will venture outta my safe zone with time. As for steel I'll take whatever I can get my hands on however I agree with Manville on D2 and 154CM.
I'm a pounder too. I like "old style" (comes with age I guess!). I prefer to forge in my
coal forge but I've got a small forge made out of 6" sched 40 (heavy wall) pipe that
I made also. Getting ready to make a large propane fired forge out of 12" sched 40
pipe to see if I can forge some damascus. I use scrap yard steel and have had great
luck with it (leaf springs,coil springs,railroad spikes,large lumber mill saw blades)
I'm 80% "Pounder" and 20% "Grinder". I think to an extent, even we "Pounders" are grinders. I make a lot of Mosaic Damascus, but my favorite "straight" steels are 52100 and 1084. Because of the economic times, I'm getting ready to offer a line of Stock Removal blades of 13C26 steel.
There's nothing I enjoy more than forging steel, and if I could just make a living forging I would.....but I do have to admit that I also enjoy turning that "mangled" piece of steel into a finished knife.