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I Forge Iron

forging copper


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I work most of my copper and silver cold. When the metal stops moving easily I anneal it by bring it up to dull red and quench. In making my rings and bracelets when it starts to look like little flakes on the surface you have worked it to long and need an anneal and quench real bad. At the tapered ends if you see little cracks start to form, that is another sign of working past time to anneal. Copper gets real stiff just prior to time to anneal.

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TONGS! there is no "cold end" when hot working copper that's short enough to reach the anvil with the hammer!

Note too that heating copper too many times for cold working allows the build up of cupric oxide in the inter granular areas and it will get to where it can't be worked because it's brittle. So like knifemaking work as fast and with as few heats as possible.

Silver is fun to hot forge too!

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excuse me for prying into the conversation, I would understand if should heat the copper to work or is more convenient to work in cold?
I want to forge something in copper ring or bracelet and I wanted some heat it in the forge my concern is the poisoning by copper, some precautions should I take on this?
Thank you and sorry for my bad english I write from italy ....

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GiFerro, you need to be careful it doesn't melt. Do you have a gas forge of a solid fuel forge?

If a gas forge make a little tray of stainless steel with the edges bent up so if the copper melts it's in the tray and can be easily removed.

If a solid fuel forge (coal, coke, charcoal,...) You may want to insert a 5cm stainless pipe with one end crimped over into the fuel stack to make an oven to place the copper in for heating. Watch it as the stainless will degrade over time and need replacing before a hole is burnt in it.

Expect to melt your piece several times before getting the right temperature *known* to your eye.

Working in a very dark area can help as the top temp for copper is a very low glow usually only see-able in a dark room.

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  • 2 weeks later...


Look up "mokume gane" on the web. It is a Japanese form of non-ferrous pattern welding. THAT is the simplest answer and not 100%. I have never attempted it but the guy who got me into beating iron turned out some beautiful stuff. There is a lot out there on it and items in this forum also. A search here should turn up a start for you.


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I've been surprised how far you can forge copper....and aluminum.. cold......without even annealing it first. The "secret" if there was one......for me anyway. Was that I did it with a set of tight radius'd fullering dies on the powerhammer. Most impressive was ...a 1/4" thick piece that I forged down to about 1/16" .....before it even BEGAN to split.

And I've done a video on youtube of cold forging aluminum, not annealed first......to extremes.. the only annealing done....was to soften the Fold Formed elements to OPEN them. I've posted this on here before.....but'll add it again for anyone that hadn't seen it.

YouTube - Large Scale Fold FormingFULLresVID



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wow amazing - ive not seen that vid before - so thanks for putting it up again that was fascinating - i cant believe you got it to move so much cold without cracking it..... i will certainly try something like that:0 thanks alot orn. smith

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  • 1 month later...

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