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I Forge Iron

Cable Forging

Jim L.

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The place where I work just had some elevator work done. A little schmoozing with the workers scored me about 12 feet of 5/8 inch cable. :D

`Problem is I don't know the first thing about welding, much less doing it with cable (pre-lubed).

How do I cut it. Does it have to be welded before being cut or forging. What to use to clean thick oil off?????? :confused:

Any help/suggestions are welcome.

Jim L.

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hey Jim, one thing to look at is the cable make sure its not galvanized. Sounds like if its pre lubed or greased it shouldn't be. (Inshalla) and forge welding is a big task to tackle all at once. i bought a #25 LG from a guy in New Mexico last year and he showed me the ins and outs of forge welding with 15 n 20 and 1084. but i still had 4 failures before my first success. Fifth and First successful attempt was with some 1" dia. herring bone pattern crane cable.
Don't get the impression that i'm trying to scare you away from forge welding, I'm saying DON'T GIVE UP! turns out i had to low of heat in my forge. after a complete make over with it now my forge will get to welding heat. depending on what type of forge you have solid fuel or gasser, i can only speak from a gasser stand point.

1. start with a 2' of cable, reason is you will weld only 4"-6" of it and the rest will be used as a handle. or if you have tongs you can start with a 4"-6" piece(and you are just starting out later with experience you figure out what you need.)

2. take some tie wire double rap the ends to keep from unraveling. and cut with what ever you have to cut with. ie i use a peanut grinder with a 3/32" metal cutting disk, cuts right through it and leaves a clean edge.

3. this part is personal preference some like to (this is what i did with a piece about 6" I wouldn't suggest it with a 2' piece) unravel the strands and clean them all independent from each other. prepare for sore finger tips. as i unraveled the strands i laid the pieces down in sequence cleaned each one then put them back together in reverse order. Now others don't clean at all they just flux and have success. either way you choose is up to you. (I would suggest this being your first time to clean the strands.)

4. I have a gas forge so I'll talk about that. fire up your forge let the forge come up to heat. the inside will look orange. place the cable or billet in let soak for awhile, paying close attention to the color when it starts to show a little red pull out and sprinkle flux on. (i use 20 team mule borax which you can get at any grocery store) it will foam up off the billet, rotate the billet to keep the flux on the billet. what's happening is there's chemical something and something in it, that's terrible sorry i can't remember what was in it for sure but there's moisture in the borax that is being burned off. put back in front of the forge where there is a lot of heat and rotate. you'll see that after a few seconds it "melts" on the surface place back in the forge. depending on the forge when it comes to a full red i flux again. put back in the forge. repeat until there is a visible coating of goo or honey on the surface. usually over head cable is a high carbon steel, if you can find out for sure would help, but if not just treat the billet like it was high carbon. which you will forge weld with a higher heat. I have some old green glasses from my dad that i use to look in the forge with. the billet will blend in with the walls of the forge now its ready to hammer.

5. after the billet is up to heat, put in a vise of some type and with either a pipe wrench or vise grip pliers twist with the twist of the billet. Being careful not to over twist. you will feel the billet harden up as you twist and become ridged. take the billet back to the forge i will wire brush off the old flux and re flux. place back in the forge and bring back up to heat.

6. i use a #25 LG to hammer my billets. you can use an anvil and hammer just the same. the key points are you don't need to whack the crap out of it. but more like hitting and squishing the billet together. a few taps is all you will get per heat. resist the temptation of "just one more hit". hit as close to your tongs as possible rotate with the twist away from you. I'll do a rotate completely then advance with the twist, trying to over lap hits with previous hits. reheat reflux rehit. very labor intensive. and it takes awhile to do. i found that having more than one project going helps. multi tasking if you will.

7. after you have welded the billet now you can forge down to what ever shape you want. Remember that you need to forge at welding heat. if you don't you can run the risk of breaking your welds.

8. Should talk about shop safety, eye glasses clear and dark, fire extinguisher, heavy and light gloves, hearing protection. to just name a few.

Which ever you try Gasser or Solid fuel, the basic theory is the same. bring to red flux, bring to welding heat hit, bring to welding heat forge.

There will be a few who will chime in and help also. don't get disgruntled over anything and there is no dumb question. don't be afraid to ask.

And remember this is "A" way, not "THEE" way.
Hope this helps. Chad Jorgenson

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Coupla things....
I electric weld my ends, keeps things together easierSome guys wire the ends and forge weld them first to keep things all neat and together. .Once I bring the piece up to red, a whack it a few times on the anvil. All that crud and corruption inside will come out. After doing this several times, I flux and whack it again. Then flux and begin the welding sequence.
Some fellas take the cable apart, like Chad said, and scrub it to remove the crud. If you do that, some folks then soak the cable in a water/borax mix, drying repeatedly.
I find I get better welds by doing the hammer and turn as Chad described. Tightens everything up really well.
Just make sure you bring it to welding heat everytime.
Dr Jim has a really great chapter on welding cable in his pattern welding book

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If you want to do it "easier" if you are hand welding (which I do and advocate) use a bottom "V" swage will make it alot nicer to weld...

Try it you might like it...just a suggestion..


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