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Making chain


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Well lets start by saying I enjoy making chain but it does not like me either the welded joint is to thin. I tried to scarf it several different ways and always the same results. The weld is always good a nice ring to it. Any tips you would think after doing this for so many years I would have gotten it by now:)
Thanks Firegnome

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The best advice I can offer is that you need some instruction. I know this will sound harsh but all you do by continuing to do things for a long time the same way and not be pleased with the outcome is to get really consistant at a procedure that does not work. Practice is great but you must only practice what works well. It is not possible for me or anyone else that responds to this to see how you are doing what you are doing. A local club, maybe an active farriers group, and local smith or anyone that is willing and has the skills can take alook at you working and give suggestions. Search everywhere you are able to drive and look for monthly meetings, seminars eetc. Even if they are covering unrelated toppics inquire aboiut your needs and see ife they may help if you attend, join drop an item in the iron in the hat, anything.

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The advice that I received in a class where part of the project was to weld a ring, was to overlap the ends so that you had a double thickness of material at the weld, then forge the weld down to a single thickness. If I understand correctly, your challenge is not having enough material at the weld. The other thing you can try is to upset the ends of the ring prior to scarfing, so as to have more material at the weld. You could try both ways and see which works better for you. :D

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  • 4 weeks later...
  • 3 weeks later...

The following info applies to hand forged links, not ones placed between dies.

There is no upsetting needed. The scarfs are often made with half-face blows on the near, radiused edge of the anvil face. The link end is slightly onto the anvil face (about the stock diameter) at a 45degree angle. Another way is to use the cross peen at a 45. In both cases, the scarf is drawn and angled toward the inside of the U bend. Leave the scarf points a little thick. For example, on 3/8" D material, leave about 1/16" in thickness.

When the two scarfs are bent inward to meet, they should meet at a 90 degree angle, because you made the scarf shoulders at a 45. They should not meet smoothly, so that they look like a finished link curve; more like a gothic arch, negative space, inside. Looking inside the join, the shut should appear s-shaped before welding. The lap is fairly extreme, so that the scarf points protrude a little beyond each other. It is a side-scarf setup.

The initial weld is done of both sides on the anvil face near the horn. Then go immediately to the horn holding the link at a 45, and swing it while hammering, so you're welding toward the scarf point. Turn it over and swing and weld in the same manner. Mild steel sometimes takes two welding heats; wrought iron, one. If another heat is taken, go directily to the horn and weld, holding it at various angles from vertical to 45. The only thing that gets the inside finished is contact with the horn, unless it's a large link where you can reach inside with the hammer face.

When inspecting old, well made wrought iron links, I have noticed that a link will often have a somewhat peaked appearance at the outside top of the weld area. The inside will be smooth and rounding. This "peak" is done by judicious hammer control when moving the link and hammering over the horn. It gives extra thickness at the weld. I have also noted that the points of the scarfs may be visible on a finished link. These show as slight shuts and are not a problem, as long as the area between the shuts is solidly welded.


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