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Alveprins

Wrought Iron / Bog iron - normal?

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Hi guys,

I'm currently working on a project involving using old tools from a silver mine. The age of these tools could be everything from 400 - 100 years old. I don't know which period these specific tools are from.

Beneath you see a picture of the tools in their current condition:

Silver Mine Tools 2.jpg

The piece of iron I've used - is from the long bar underneath the chisel.

When forged out and ground down - it looks like this:

Silver Mine Tools 3.jpg

I see it has lots and lots of cracks like this. Is this something that is normal for this kind of iron? Or should I try to draw it out and forge weld over and over again fluxing like a maniac trying to make it nice and crack-free?

Any input on how to handle this kind of iron is extremely welcome. :)

Sincerely, Alveprins.

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Looks to me like it’s not very refined wrought iron, and I believe it’s a good practice to work it at or near welding temperatures to avoid it splitting along those grain lines. 

That being said, let someone with more expertise chime in and confirm or refute what I’ve said

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Eric is right.  That is poorly refined wrought iron, and the way to fix it is to cut, fold, and weld several times, essentially refining it into better iron.  You will need the hottest reducing atmosphere fire you can get and a lot of flux.  This is where solid fuel outshines gas by a long shot, but it is still possible in gas if your forge is hot enough.  My first real blacksmithing project in my first class I ever took in 1998 involved using some nasty old poorly refined iron bar (lintel bar from a fireplace in an old (ca. 1850) log cabin with family connections) to make a set of fireplace tools.  One of the two instructors told me not to even try it, and the other told me how to fix it.  When I was successful, he said "Now you can forge anything."   

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There is no challenge in black smith work so great, that it cannot be solved with a suitable application of heat and pressure.

(adapted from a USMC saying about high explosives)

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10 hours ago, Eric Morgan said:

Looks to me like it’s not very refined wrought iron, and I believe it’s a good practice to work it at or near welding temperatures to avoid it splitting along those grain lines. 

 

9 hours ago, Alan Longmire said:

Eric is right.  That is poorly refined wrought iron, and the way to fix it is to cut, fold, and weld several times, essentially refining it into better iron. 

You will need the hottest reducing atmosphere fire you can get and a lot of flux.  This is where solid fuel outshines gas by a long shot, but it is still possible in gas if your forge is hot enough.

Thanks guys! :D

So, a couple of questions:

1. What is a "reducing atmosphere"?

2. by cutting, do you mean cut into the grain lines, or simply just drawing it out, cutting and forge welding again?

 

Sincerely, Alveprinsen.

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A reducing atmosphere is low oxygen.  This keeps scale from forming in the fire and, if low enough in oxygen, actually converts rust back to iron.  In solid fuel forges this takes a deep fire with the work kept.far from the blast.  In a gas forge it can be trickier to adjust.

And by cutting I just meant drawing out, cutting off, and rewelding, don't try to open the cracks.

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On 5/24/2019 at 1:37 PM, Alan Longmire said:

A reducing atmosphere is low oxygen.  This keeps scale from forming in the fire and, if low enough in oxygen, actually converts rust back to iron.  In solid fuel forges this takes a deep fire with the work kept.far from the blast.  In a gas forge it can be trickier to adjust.

And by cutting I just meant drawing out, cutting off, and rewelding, don't try to open the cracks.

Alright, thanks Mr. Longmire!

Now, I've drawn the piece out - at welding temperature, cut it, cleaned each piece with an angle grinder, tac welded it - heated to welding temperature again, fluxed like a maniac, and tried to forge weld.

This resulted in absolute failure.

This is the piece. An old drill:

iron 01.jpg

At some point after drawing it out - I had to start squishing it from the side - lest it be just long and wide:

iron 03.jpgiron 02.jpg

iron 04.jpg

The result: It would not weld. Not one bit.

Note that the metal felt extremely soft... and I mean extremely.
I was forging at very bright yellow color, using the powerhammer.

I am at a loss what to do at this point.

If I straighten these bastards out again, and add a piece of railroad steel inbetween the layers - do you guys think it'd make a difference? To add something with a bit of carbon into the mix?

Sincerely, Alveprins.

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Alright, seems the two middle plates did weld - and quite well.

iron 05.jpg

I pried off the two outside pieces, and bent the two middle ones onto themselves, fluxed - and brought the temperature up to something nearing ridiculousness...
Basically burning the iron - I took it out and started forging. Seems it stuck pretty good. I then cut it in half, stacked it again - and drew it out into a square bar. The weld seems good for the most part. Letting it cool now , and I'll grind it nice, square and clean, and prepare to weld it to the actual steel which will make out the edge. :)

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Wrought welds at a higher temperature than mild steel from what I’ve read and seen. Very bright yellow heat is what I’ve always been told for wrought iron

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Wrought needs to be HOT.  Like sparkly white.  Then it'll stick like butter.  Yellow, even high yellow, is iffy.  Note that's only for welding it to itself.  When adding steel, it'll weld to the steel at normal welding temperatures.  

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5 minutes ago, Alan Longmire said:

Wrought needs to be HOT.  Like sparkly white.  Then it'll stick like butter.  Yellow, even high yellow, is iffy.  Note that's only for welding it to itself.  When adding steel, it'll weld to the steel at normal welding temperatures.  

Thanks man,

 

Yeah, I've been burning my furnace hotter than ever before - and it did stick after that.

I've just finished welding it onto the twisted steel and drawn it out. I did one round of normalizing, and letting the steel cool down now. Tomorrow I will shape the blade. :)

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