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Working Properties of Wrought Iron


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I recently came into a bunch of wrought iron bars. They came out of a factory built sometime in the 1800s, are about an inch in diameter and look to be some kind of structural tie rods. Iv attached a couple pictures. I have not worked with wrought iron much and with a quick search here did not find an overview of the subject. Specifically, I am wondering if its possible to tell before trying if this material could be
used as is, or would it need to be drawn out and rewelded (multiple times?) before being used in a blade? Are there some types of objects which are a better source of wrought for including in blades? Im pretty excited about this find and any information would be welcome.

Wrought2.JPG

Wrought1.JPG

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It needs to be forged at yellow heat,not good for blades by itself but great for fittings or combined with high carbon steels for damascus or sanmai construction for blades.It forges like butter at the right temp and displays a nice pattern when etched.

Nice find and go crazy and have some fun with it.

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The problem is that all wrought iron is its own creature. There is no one set of characteristics for how it will work, which is one reason it went obsolete. It can be clean and soft with no carbon, sulfur, or phosphorus, it can be dirty and hard with up to .4% carbon and so much sulfur and phosphorus both that it can only be forged at that balancing point betweeen cold-short and hot-short, a heat at which the slag then allows the whole thing to come apart. It can be anywhere in between, having enough slag inclusions to hide small children or being so refined it looks like homogenous steel.

 

The trick is as Christopher said above, work it HOT for best results. It won't always keep it together, but if you work it cooler than yellow it WILL come apart eventually.

 

Finally, tie rods are usually pretty gnarly stuff with excellent texture when etched. Don't be discouraged by anything I said above, I love the stuff and grab it whenever I can. It's just not at all like working with modern steel. I see it as sort of like the difference between playing an electronic keyboard (modern steel/predictable and preprogrammed) and a fretless banjo with gut strings in wet weather (wrought/holy cow, what is this thing and why won't it stay in tune?): They'll both make music, but in different ways and at remarkably different levels of difficulty. B)

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I have a bunch of anchor chain links that started out 1.5" thick. uncurling and smashing them into sheets or using pretty aggressive dies to round or square them was no problem. I had a few long strands break open every now and then.

Also, cold cutting them is pretty easy. I was sawing and grinding to size and shape, now I just use a big sharpened wedge and cold cut them with a hammer.

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I recently found an old busted up dock that was held together with wrought bolts. First wrought!! I'm real excited, I'll post some pictures when I get into them.

Morgan C. Davison

 

In order to bring spirit, originality, and excellence to everything you do, you must make living an art, a journey, and a discipline. Through one thing, know ten thousand things.

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Boy does that stuff look like the rods from Wisconsin Woodchuck. Have fun forging it! If you have power... work the big stuff down slow and hot or it will come apart at the edges as they cool faster than the core. Very difficult stuff.. but beautiful. I hate it. And I love it.

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