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Brian Dougherty

Forging Nickel Silver

13 posts in this topic

I'd like to use nickel silver for bolsters on some chef's knives I have been making, but need stock that is roughly 1"x 3/8" which I am having trouble finding.  I can get 5/8" rounds, and am wondering if I can forge it into the shape I want.

I've forged some brass, and some alloys are pretty tricky.  How well does nickel silver forge?  There seem to be a couple of different alloys, is one better than the other for this?

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Its hard to tell.
Some forges great and some just crumbles.
I don't remember what the chemical difference is that causes the problem but every piece I've ever tried to forge fell apart.

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Brian,

I've not  forged nickel silver but it is basically "white brass".  If you've forged brass before then you know that too hot and it slumps,  too cold and it cracks.  I  would suggest heating a piece to a dull red and see how it works.

 

Gary

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Thanks George.  Looks pretty much like what Gary said - its like brass.

Not sure how I missed the post here.  I used Google to search this forum, and got no hits.  Must have made a type-o.

I've never seen that GSA site before...

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Nickle silver is mostly copper  (about 60% if I remember) the rest being nickel and zinc equally split. The high copper content makes it an easy "sweat" to copper in mokume. The zinc makes it tricky to forge or shape hot. I have converted 1' round bar to 1/4 inch flat bar using a press. Only heated to the point of being slippery or wet. Any hotter resulted in cracks and crumbles.

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I've never seen that GSA site either, but I have the book it references.  Interesting!

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The GSA site is interesting in that it shows why certain alloys are used and the effects of different compositions, hopefully to give an idea of what alloy would be best suited for forging... After more reading, I've confirmed that leaded nickel silver is indeed hot-short.  I'm preparing to do some forging with it myself...

 

There's an interesting video on YouTube that shows it being forged...

https://youtu.be/92DcXHpJXPA

 

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Hello:

Sorry that I am late in this conversation..I alloy my own nickel-silver since I can not find the sized I need..I use a mix of approx 65% (by weight) of Cu, 20% Ni and 10% Ag..so there is some real SILVER in my Nickel Silver..I pour into open backed sand moulds and go from there...Now I work at a very dull and I mean DULL (almost not even red ) heat when viewed in dim light...it take a bit of practice but you will get the hand of it...just don't get it too hot (Melts real quick..or is hot short out the gazoo) or if too cold...it crack or just breaks..

Hope this helps..

 

JPH

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6 hours ago, JPH said:

Hello:

Sorry that I am late in this conversation..I alloy my own nickel-silver since I can not find the sized I need..I use a mix of approx 65% (by weight) of Cu, 20% Ni and 10% Ag..so there is some real SILVER in my Nickel Silver..I pour into open backed sand moulds and go from there...Now I work at a very dull and I mean DULL (almost not even red ) heat when viewed in dim light...it take a bit of practice but you will get the hand of it...just don't get it too hot (Melts real quick..or is hot short out the gazoo) or if too cold...it crack or just breaks..

Hope this helps..

 

JPH

You know, I never even considered this option, but it would be very do-able.    What does the silver add to the mix?

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I have forged nickel-silver. I have also taken stock and scrap and melted it in a crucible and poured ingots out of it to get the size stock I need. (I save all of my non-ferrous scrap and recycle it) Here is one such N/S ingot:

NS Ingot.JPG

It measures approximately 1-5/8" x 9/16" x 1-1/8". I cast the ingot in either sand, water (Japanese style) or steel forms depending on what I want the outcome to look like. This one was cast in a steel mold. NS work hardens very rapidly so frequent annealing is necessary even when forging at a dull red heat. I typically heat till it glows and let is cool a little, forge a little, anneal, repeat. I have found that sometimes it appears to get a bluish hue when forged. I'm not sure what causes this, but it looks pretty cool. The center spacer on this knife was forged NS. It was heated to red, annealed and forged cold.

 

 

Edited by Joshua States

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On 10/15/2017 at 1:15 AM, Joshua States said:

I have forged nickel-silver. I have also taken stock and scrap and melted it in a crucible and poured ingots out of it to get the size stock I need.

 

Well, now that is something I hadn't considered! 

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Just be careful when melting any zinc alloy. The fumes are toxic. Good ventilation is necessary.

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