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Jonathan Hall

Genuine Wrought Iron

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This may have been covered before gentlemen, if so i apologize. To my point.....so i keep my eyes open for deals on metal and such from sites like craigslist and want ads, etc, and i notice that there are quite a few advetisements for so called "wrought iron". I know That 3/4 of these solicitors are obviously unaware that what they are offering is not in fact wrought iron, and that its either cast iron or mild steel made to look as such. Since Wrought iron is always good to have around the shop my question is, besides the obvious fact that wrought iron doesnt come in hollow tubing( that im aware of), how can you tell what your looking at is genuine wrought.

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As far as visually by a picture it is hard to do unless the person selling it has polished it some and etched it to show the grain, although sometimes if it is very decayed you can see the grain without it. You can do a cut and bend test. Spark test also helps WI has a unique spark most of the time.

Edited by brandon p

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I have been told if it rusts with pits all over the surface, it's modern steel, if it rusts with wavy lines then it's likely wrought.

 

JH

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The surest way of knowing wrought iron is by its striations (silaceous slag inclusions) which can be revealed either by corrosion, i.e. etching or oxidation/rusting or by causing the striations to reveal themselves when they fray, i.e. cut and bend/snap test or by forging the end of a piece in a way that will cause it to delaminate. There is also spark test which is not always 100%.

I have come across wrought pipe, too, as it happens.

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You can bet 100% that you are not going to find real wrought iron listed as such on Craigslist. You may find old wagon tires (yes, they are called tires, not rims) that are often wrought, but I doubt you'll see much decorative railing that is actual wrought. I thought I had some from a house that burned in 1927 (built 1854), but it turned out to be mild steel.

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I have been told if it rusts with pits all over the surface, it's modern steel, if it rusts with wavy lines then it's likely wrought.

 

JH

Telling by eye is at best without cutting it very very hard to do. I have hung onto this pic and it shows well what wrought looks like once cut halfway and broke over. The part that broke over splinters similar to wood but, it is a definite way to tell! Look at this pic the rust is all over and some pits but when cut half way through and broke over it show it is definitely wrought!

 

knives107_zps7174ec48.jpg

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If i suspected that an old peice of metal was wrought and of i couldnt cut on it for a splinter test, would sanding a section of it shiny and putting some ferric chloride on it to find a grain pattern like BP said be an accurate alternative? Im asking because sometimes ill also see stuff at garage sales and estate sales that could possibly be wrought iron, like old fire pokers, old tools etc. im surrounded by old logging and farming communities and there is alot of stuff to pick through, so im trying to come up with quick easy way to identify this elusive iron with out damaging the peice.

Edited by Jonathan Hall

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would sanding a section of it shiny and putting some ferric chloride on it to find a grain pattern like BP said be an accurate alternative?

 

I am using this method alot, since I´m also getting my supply of wrought from garage sales and I find it pretty accurate. If you are allowed to do the tests, just look for those characteristic lines. On these pieces posted on the picture I just had to grind the surface a little bit to identify them as wrought.

IMG_0680.JPG

 

Another clue might be looking for hammer marks on the piece. If it´s hand forged than it is probably wrought iron - most of the time (at least in my experience) ;)

Edited by M.Ladislaus
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