I'm building a rugged crit/do-everything bike. I really intend to disrespect this bike, curbs, gravel roads, grass shortcuts, skateparks, etc. Plan is a Nashbar aluminum frame... But what fork? I want a Steel Nashbar fork (40º rake) because they look awesome. Would you trust it? What else would you recommend?
Did the same thing for the same reason on my Serotta titanium cx bike. Check it out here http://www.flickr.com/photos/quality_vintage_bikes/sets/72157636789945366/
. I ended up buying a Traitor Cycles steel fork though.
A proper steel fork will handle pretty much everything you can throw at it. The same goes for most (modern) carbon stuff, but obviously these don't handle crashing a bike nearly as good as a steel fork does. That said, you should note that a steel fork is much heavier (approx. 700g) than a carbon fork and it is not nearly as stiff compared to a carbon fork. The latter will definitely result in brake shudder and lesser cornering ability of your bike.
Good luck with the build!