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Rusty Cable?


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I picked up a piece of old 1 1/2" cable while out with my son this weekend. I have know idea if it's high carbon or not the individual wires are ~1/16" in diameter and is pretty rusty. My ? is can I weld it up with the rust or do I need to get rid of it first? And if I need to get rid of it is there an easier way than taking it apart and sanding or wire brushing it off?



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Rusty cable can usually be welded.


The cable can be taken apart into its 8 main strands. You'll need to do this anyway, as a lot of cable has a plastic marker in the middle which will foul your weld if not removed.


You can wire brush the eight strands or, if the rust is heavy, soak it in a solution of muriatic acid and water.


If it's greasy you can burn off the grease first either in the forge or with a torch. This produces a lot of smoke. Be warned.


Is this your first attempt at forging cable? If so, here's a few hints.


Tack weld the ends of the cable together, otherwise it will come apart as you twist it. This is also a handy time to weld on a rebar handle.


Don't forget to flux the heck out of the cable. You want it dripping wet with flux as this will not only protect the many exposed surfaces from oxidation, but will also clean the steel where it has surface oxidation. Apply the flux as soon as it starts to get dull red.


After the first heating/fluxing, lock one end in a vice and grab the other with a pipe wrench and twist the cable tighter. This will make welding easier.


Strike with the hammer at welding heat with glancing blows in the direction of the twist. Pretty soon the dull thunk will become a solid ring, which is when you can start flattening.


I like to fold my cable at least once. I find that doin so causes fewer inclusions.






"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly." -- Theodore Roosevelt


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Hi Greg. I found a rusty old piece of cable in the forest. I tried to consolidate it in a coal fire. It just kept on exuding black goo and soaking up more borax. It started as 1" cable, but by the time it was solid, it was 1/4" square. And it had a few inclusions. What a waste of time and fuel! By the way, it tested as 1095. Maybe it can be used as a tiny shop knife or scribe. I have never tried new good cable, but it shouldn't shrink this much.

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As the others have said, it seems like it wouldn't be any trouble. For cable knives, I just buy cable. I have a commercial cable shop near my work (for thos in the minneapolis area, it's Olsen Chain and Cable at 169 and Valley View road) that sells it by the foot. A 3' piece of 1.5" cable costs about $20. Thats enough to make a number of knives and no worries about rope cores, anti-weld stuff i nthe voids...etc. I do have to burn off the oil/grease that comes on it, but thats no big deal. If I found some cable, I'd darn sure use it, but I haven't stumbled along any.

Have you ever thought about the life of steel? It's interesting to think that you can control the fate of a piece of metal.

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I weld a lot of salvaged cable. I weld the ends up and "burn it out" before I twist it up..I get it to a good dull red heat and by this time the grease and particulits have burned out or turned to ash. I then thump it against the anvil a few times to knock the crud out..Then I twist it up after another heat. Then I go to my flux/welding heats..Seems to work well for me.

You have to take Life by the throat, then you need to chocke it until it spits up what you want!!

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