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cable prep/ How clean?

Matt Todd

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I'm getting a piece of cable ready for forge welding, and trying to get the braids as clean as I can but its a bitch. The grease is really sticking to it, as well as RTV. I've been using soap and water, acetone, windex.....nothing really works. I am trying to avoid going to the store and get brake cleaner or engine degreaser, but that stuff is expensive. What's the best solvent? Also, could the cable take the weld if there was just a light amount of grease. I'll probably breakdown and go to the store, meh. ;/

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I use simple green to degrease. When it's really bad I have a small metal can I toss it into with some charcoal and scrap wood and burn it off. Then back to simple green followed with soapy water and a final water rinse. It works for me.

”Whoever pursues righteousness and love finds life, prosperity, and honor!”


George Brackett

American Bladesmith's Society,

Apprentice Member

Hialeah, Florida

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I've heard of several way's from simple green to kerosene to diesel, I tend to heat the cable up and burn it out and in the process some of it also drips out. So experiment with it and have some fun...


just use common sense.......dude your boned

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heat the cable up. if its at welding heat all the way through that grease is screamin atoms in the wind.........if you really want it clean heat it up a lil so it will take a bend and "birdcage" it by twisting opposing the lay of the strands. this opens it up a lil, let it burn, hit it with flux, re twist it up. if you don't over do it, neither of these operations are very large movements.

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The birdcage I have seen, this guy inserts nickel shim stock into the cleaned cable then retwists it, the result is way out!

To become old and wise... You first have to survive being young and foolish! ;) Ikisu.blogsot.com. Email; milesikisu@gmail.com mobile: +27784653651

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Been a few years since I've done cable, but . . .


First, be aware that if you're using 8 strand cable, there is probably a plastic strip in there. Take it apart and remove the strip.


Take the individual strands and heat them up to dull red. It will burn off the grease.


Clean each strand with a wire brush on a drill to remove the black soot.




You can clean with acetone of another solvent at this point if you want, but I've found it to be unnecessary.


Tack weld the ends (really important).


Heat the very end of the cable (like the last 2-3 inches) to dull red, flux heavily, then heat to welding and forge into a square.


Heat the whole thing to a cherry red and flux. Important to flux heavily w/ cable because of all the nooks and crannies that can get oxidation in there. Also, it's a really dirty medium even with all the cleaning/burning, so the flux helps clean stuff out.


Heat again to cherry red and lock the one end in a vice and grab the end you've forged square with a twist wrench. Twist it as tight as you can. Multiple heats may be required. Keep it fluxed. Wire brush between heat/fluxes. Don't let scale form in all those little cracks.


Keeping it very wet w/ flux, heat 3-4 inches at a time to welding heat and strike in glancing blows in the direction of the twist. The dull thunk will become a solid ring (or whatever sound your anvil makes when striking regular stock) when that section is welded solid. Forge into a bar.


I recommend folding the bar a couple of times to drive out all the inclusions. It also makes the pattern more interesting.


Etch the holy living hell out of it to get the pattern to pop. Keep in mind that non-heat treated cable doesn't seem to etch very well at all.


Frankly I think cable is more work than it's worth. Meh pattern and a lot of clean up time.




Cheers and luck!




"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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Thanks for the help Dave, I really appreciate it. Just by dumb luck I found the plastic strip inside the cable, and removed of course. I did pretty much everything you said, except I didn't char the grease. I cleaned it as best as I could with goo gone, acetone what ever I could find under the kitchen sink. Reassembled and welded it up on both ends and welded on a handle. Update on cable blade WIP coming shortly.

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I've used Coke (the soda pop, not the forge fuel) to clean old coins, paint of miniatures, and a few other things. You might try dropping it into a jar of it for a few days. Other than that, I'd put it in the forge and burn everything off, then scrub it when you remove it with a wire brush.


But I've never worked with cable yet, so take my opinion for what it's worth.



Truth simply is. Whether you like that truth or not is totally irrelevant.


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