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First Forge Weld


Mike Ward

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This is my first attempted at forge welding in my coal forge. I used 4 pieces of 1"x5"x1/8" steel that I got at TSC to use as practice. This cut is at the spot where it had delaminated and I tried to weld it back together. I tried to follow these steps the best I could:

1) Wire billet together

2) Heat till billet was a solid red at weld point

3) Pull out and sprinkle borax over it

4) Heat billet until welding heat when the borax is bubbling

5) Give 3-4 strikes then put more borax on and put it back

6) repeat and remove wire when needed

I suspect that I didn't get it hot enough in places and the pieces didn't smoosh together. Please any criticisms and suggestions are welcome and muchly appreciated.

 

Thanks,

Mike

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It does look like it didn't get hot enough, but:  did you grind off the mill scale before assembling the billet? A36 (the crap they sell at TSC) is notoriously unclean and often will not weld no matter what.  Grinding off the mill scale helps, regardless.

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The sides aren't that important.  I suspect not enough heat.  Keep trying, if you can get that stuff to weld you will have some skills built up!  I have used it for tomahawk bodies in the past, and sometimes you just hit a bad batch.  Look at the pinned thread in this subforum called something like "the philosophy of axes, with a digression on welding mild to mild."  Lots of info in that one, which is why it's pinned.

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Lol, true. That means carbon is going bye-bye! But using mild steel it's a good way to learn when the color of the steel is just right. I personally think it looks almost like butter, all bright yellow and smooth. A good way with tool steel is to touch it with s steel rod. You'll actually feel it stick to the billet just a bit. 

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Nope. Just sharpen it to a point and give it a push. If you feel it stick a bit that is a good sign the steel has reached a plastic-like state, called welding heat. Give it a few more moments to soak, take it out and give it a few light taps to set the weld, then clean the scale, reflux and start again. Welding is more about convincing the steel to come together than smashing into a lump right away. Using coal, let me advise you to build a "chamber" or cave in the burning fuel. This will help create a reducing atmosphere that slows down oxidation and slows the build up of scale. Scale is the true kryptonite of forge welding lol. And most of all, be patient. You'll ruin a lot of billets in your time. Even old hands will lose billets after years of practice. Don't let it get you down. Just refine your techniques and keep moving forward. 

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Yeah I don't think that my coal is good enough or something to make a beehive. I've tried to do it multiple times but it never stays together no matter what I do. The best I could do is stack fire brick around the pot and make a cave that way.

I wish I could go out and just do it, but I still have college for the next 3 weeks and won't be home.<_<

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As coal burns, it tends to stick together just a bit. This happens just after most of the impurities have burned off. Just heap the coal up over your burn area and leave it for a bit. Then gently wiggle your billet into the central area. Rotate it to heat evenly, gently pull and push as little as possible. This will help make that little area. It won't be rock hard, but overall it will hold that shape. Keep coal around this area wet. It will help clean it off and help the center stay heaped up. 

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Are you by chance using the bagged anthracite from TSC?  It's fine coal (although I know one guy who swears it's not hot enough to weld in) but it doesn't coke up and stick together.  That requires bituminous coal.

And Brian is right.  If you work in solid fuels you WILL lose a few.  Just yesterday I burned about an inch of W-2 off the tip of a composite multibar billet.:rolleyes:

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I have no idea what kind it is but it's probably anthracite cause it doesn't stick. It does coke up though just fine. I got it from my dad's friend that used to work for Byholt, some kind of excavating company, that had a pile of coal lying around. He called us and said bring as many buckets as we could. We probably filled eight 5 gallon buckets, six storage boxes and other containers. That was like six years ago and there's still a little more than 3/4 left haha.

Yeah, I know I'm going to lose some. The plan is in the next couple of years to build a gas forge and use that for welding and heat treat. That way I know how to use both and when I run out of coal I can go to gas with no problem

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I'm looking at that billet and I don't think it's a heat or soak time issue. Here's why: The center weld looks the best. It's the outer two welds that look sketchy. I'm tempted to ask to see a photo of the hammer used because there is a definite curve to one face and the opposite face is pretty flat. I also wonder about the grinder marks and what method of cleaning you did to the weld faces. Unless the grind direction goes in straight lines from edge to edge, flux can get trapped in the grind marks and cause delamination. I suspect that the hammer blows were too hard, with a heavily curved hammer face causing the edges to rise up and stretch across the layer below. The center weld has the least "travel" from the hammer and remains in good condition. The outer two layers have the most "travel" and stretch causing the welds to separate. I suggest lighter hits and either using a flatter faced hammer or with the hammer you have, hit center, edge, edge. Flip over and hit center, edge, edge. Return to heat and repeat. Work your way up the length of the billet less than an inch at a time. Never let the steel get duller than a bright orange heat.

“So I'm lightin' out for the territory, ahead of the scared and the weak and the mean spirited, because Aunt Sally is fixin’ to adopt me and civilize me, and I can't stand it. I've been there before.”

The only bad experience is the one from which you learn nothing.  

 

Josh

http://www.dosgatosdesignsllc.com/#!

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCdJMFMqnbLYqv965xd64vYg

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Well, the hammer isn't that flat and has a somewhat curved face to it. Plus, I didn't really keep track of which side on hit was hit how many times which is probably a part why the outer welds are kinda curvy. 

The grind marks on each piece were perpendicular to the bars themselves to let out the flux when hit. I don't clean them with acetone or some kind of degreaser.

The layers did slip when I was hitting it, but I think that was because I twisted the wire on the top side instead of on the corner where it's tighter.

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I don't think the wire twist location will have that much effect, but maybe. I think it's more to do with the hammering technique and location of the blows. When you try this again, be more controlled and precise about what you are doing. To do this by hand takes a lot of concentration and structure. Hitting first in the center and then towards the edge will help push the flux out and complete the weld across the face. Keep it hot and don't hit it really hard. A 2 or 2.5 pound hammer is all you need and you don't want to smash it, just get it to stick. Repeated heat and hitting will reinforce the welds.

“So I'm lightin' out for the territory, ahead of the scared and the weak and the mean spirited, because Aunt Sally is fixin’ to adopt me and civilize me, and I can't stand it. I've been there before.”

The only bad experience is the one from which you learn nothing.  

 

Josh

http://www.dosgatosdesignsllc.com/#!

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCdJMFMqnbLYqv965xd64vYg

J.States Bladesmith | Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/dos.gatos.71

https://www.etsy.com/shop/JStatesBladesmith

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You might try starting off a little bit lighter, try doing a weld with just two pieces instead of a stack.  Also, for what it's worth, I don't add flux until the metal has reached yellow, I find it allows the flux to melt and flow better.  Plus, there's a chemical process going on, if you add the flux too early, by the time you have welding heat, the flux and iron oxide may have completed the process and you no longer have any flux to aid in the welding. 

Edited by Gerald Boggs
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I just wanted to say that I appreciate all of the input and suggestions you guys have given me. And on a completely unrelated note, do you think that I could make a hot cut chisel out a railroad spike? Just kinda curious because I need one.

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You can indeed, but you'll need to dunk it in water every three or four blows to keep the edge harder than what you're cutting.  I use coil spring for mine and it still needs dunking.  H13 or Atlantic 33 are hot work steels designed for this, but since I have neither I used what I had.  I did make a slitting chisel from some S-7 I got hold of once.  It holds up quite well.

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On 11/27/2017 at 2:56 PM, Alan Longmire said:

Are you by chance using the bagged anthracite from TSC?

My local tractor supply just sold the last of there bags and are not getting any more in stock. I don't buy much of it but it was nice to have it available!!:angry:

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9 hours ago, Mike Ward said:

I just wanted to say that I appreciate all of the input and suggestions you guys have given me. And on a completely unrelated note, do you think that I could make a hot cut chisel out a railroad spike? Just kinda curious because I need one.

If you can find a piece of sucker rod, that works very well.

“So I'm lightin' out for the territory, ahead of the scared and the weak and the mean spirited, because Aunt Sally is fixin’ to adopt me and civilize me, and I can't stand it. I've been there before.”

The only bad experience is the one from which you learn nothing.  

 

Josh

http://www.dosgatosdesignsllc.com/#!

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCdJMFMqnbLYqv965xd64vYg

J.States Bladesmith | Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/dos.gatos.71

https://www.etsy.com/shop/JStatesBladesmith

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  • 3 weeks later...

Well, I know it's been awhile for this thread, but college is on break and I got some stuff done.

I tried to make a hot chisel out of a RR spike but that was kinda useless. I'm going to get another and weld a piece of high carbon something for the edge.

I did another weld with a left over piece of file I made a previous knife out of and two pieces of A36 I got from TSC. This one went much, much better to say the least. The first couple of welds were at the very edge of sparking and I kept it hot all the way through the process until the end.

I didn't see any cracks or delaminations anywhere at anytime. One thing I did notice was that I think I hit it too much on one side so I tried to compensate for it, but I don't really know. The other piece is some that I had to cut off because there was too much.

Please let me know what you think!

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