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I have a forge and am now at the stage where I am attempting to forge weld. I have tried a few welds (only attempted faggot welds), but have been unsuccessful. I know it has something to do with my technique, heating, position, little details like that. But someone tipped me off that it may also be a fire issue. I am using coke as fuel, but I heard that coal works better for welds. Is this true? Is coke or coal better for welding? Does it make a difference? Thanks for the help.

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I use only use coke and don't have a problem. A couple hints for the welding though. Your piece should be about the middle depth of the fire. If you go too far down, you are in the airflow and too high, there is not enough heat above your work. Heat the piece fairly slowly so it is hot all the way through, not just on the surface. The piece should be the same color as the surrounding fire. If it is darker than the fire, your temperature is wrong. When you hammer the weld, it does NOT take a hard blow. I saw a demo once where the smith made the weld using only a hammer handle (no head on the handle) Get the weld started, then back in the fire. Finish it on a following heat.

Heavier metal actually welds easier than small stock as it doesn't loose heat so fast. For small stock, I have a section of railroad track that I set in the forge so I can be quick getting those first hits.

Hope this is of some help.

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Awesome, okay then. It seemed a bit sketchy, but I wanted to ask anyway, thanks. That may be my problem though, I think it was that I kept on putting it too far down into the fire, thanks.

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I weld in either coal or coke fires and as mentioned by Francis they are the same. Charcoal is a different beast but its a fire handling issue there, deeper and less air essentially.

I tend to get the fire going really well, heat the piece, flux then turn the air down to maintain the fire and let the piece heat and soak slowly till its the correct temperature. Making sure the piece is hot right through is essential and not too much air.

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I've always heard that smithing with charcoal is a blacksmith no-no, so to speak. How did you manage to do it? I've never even bothered to try working with charcoal.

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Working with charcoal cannot be a big no no, it was the only fuel used till about the 1800s and still is in many parts of the world.

When I have used charcoal, its harder for me to get than coal or coke, it uses a much lower air blast, needs to be a deep fire BUT you need to put a couple of bricks along the side of your fire to make is narrower. This helps achieve the depth but, more importantly stops burning the excess fuel. Charcoal will burn without an air blast so the fuel on the sides will burn but not contribute to your work, just waste fuel.

Its also got to be real lump charcoal not the BBQ brickettes.

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Ahh, i thought you were talking about the briquettes. I've worked with regular coal before. But I never used anything to keep the fire narrow and depp, i used to forge in an insulated bucket and while my air flow wasn't the best either, I did have that issue of my fuel burning up without use. Thanks for the help. I think I'll make up another forge and give it another go with regular old coal, that welding is really kickin me in the pants.

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Just take your time with the welding. People make such a big deal out of it, almost as if you cannot be a blacksmith if you cannot forge weld.

Let the pieces soak with regular turning to get an even heat right through the pieces. I have trouble with the drop tong welds and it really bugged me till I accepted it. Now I scarf the ends, spot weld them with the buzzbox then fagot weld them in the forge. Works for me.........

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Okay, I suppose whatever works, right? It just bugs me that I can't get it down. But I think I realized/was told of my mistakes, so I'll keep at it. I've never touched a welder, don't know how to use one. JB weld works wonders, haha.

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I use coke only, it's the best way to go if you can afford it . Its the cleanest, hottest , most ash free fire you can burn your job with. somewhere here I posted pics. of welds, all welded in a coke fire from 7/16, to 7/8. my guess is you aren't getting hot enough , burn two pieces together, meaning heat them on top of each other until you see sparks, then wait until the sparks get to going then you know what the fire looks like when you ruin your job, do this and you get to know when its time, by the way, pull those burning pieces out and just tap them together with your hammer with increasingly heavy blows I think you will be pleasantly surprised

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Okay, I suppose whatever works, right? It just bugs me that I can't get it down. But I think I realized/was told of my mistakes, so I'll keep at it. I've never touched a welder, don't know how to use one. JB weld works wonders, haha.

I understand where your coming from..Im the same way. I just cant stop until I can do what Im trying to do.Dont give up.Welding will just click for you one of these days..Good deep clean fire and flux. Make sure your fireball is at least the size of a mushmelon (cantalope to non-hillbillys :D ) That way your work piece dosnt oxidize..That was my problem starting out, to small of a fire..
Another thing is whenever you fire up our forge do a practice weld..Sooner than later you'll be able to faggot weld, jump weld or whatever else you want to do..
Practice man, practice :)

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In my opinion go watch someone demonstrate forge welding that explains it well as he is doing it. That is when it started to make sense to me. I don't look for the sparks. I try to watch the surface of the metal. You can see when the surface of the metal begins to get molten. That is when I know i have reached welding heat. The metal will be white hot and the surface looks like it is greasy or runny. Sometimes I see some sparks and sometimes very little sparks at all. Coke or coal doesn't matter but forge welding with a fairly new fire that hasn't had time to make a lot of clinker helps. If you have been forging for a few hours you might need to stop and clean the clinker out and then get ready to forge weld. I'm still not that good at it either but hope practice will help with that.

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ahh ok. I think that was my biggest problem, not hot enough because my welds would always fall apart. I've burnt my pieces plenty of times, but never in an attempt to weld, I always waited for it to get just yellow. I'll keep this in mind, I go back to the forge in a few weeks, can't smith in an apartment so I use a local shop. I've also heard something about the flux. When I take my piece out of the fire, do I need to get the flux off before the weld or does it sizzle out in the fire?

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Yes Some folks sling it off and others make sure their pieces are scarped to exude it in the hammering; (and some folks don't use flux!)

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Welding with no flux, I can only offer a guess but Id say yes..Fire managment. if I were trying to weld with no flux Id have super clean metal and big deep fire where the metal would have no chance at oxidation..
Look for a glassy, slick, watery surface on the metal. Different metals weld at different heats. High carbon steel can often be welded at a high orange. Mild steel will require more heat, a high yellow and wrought iron will need to be almost white to weld..
In any case look for that molten, glassy surface..We use plain ol' 20 mule team borax like you buy in the laundry section at wal-mart..

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There is no trick to welding without flux, just patience and the right conditions which have already been covered, Scarf the ends and place the scarfs face down in the fire allow them to soak the heat through the material, pull from the fire at the sweaty heat (look for a glassy, slick, watery surface on the metal) position the pieces on the anvil or block, then quickly use gentle taps from centre out to amalgamate the surfaces in contact and this will hold bits in position, then back in the fire to welding heat again, and consolidate with heavier blows, repeat if necessary.

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i would stick with the coke fire as then you know its all clean , i dont know if someone has mentioned it but i often see it mentioned about removing the clincker before you go for a weld to make the fire cleaner, i would also mention that if you have plenty of meat in your stock then it can help to get it to welding temperature and instead of going for it let it stay there for another ten seconds or so wait till she starts to spark a little (i know many people reckon this is a no no ) if its mild and youve got the meat it wont hurt ,, you could also try making an open fire this will blind you up pretty bad if your doing a lap weld but it will let you watch the metal become molten on the surface i usually do this after ive made the weld to dress the scarves in. to do this compact around the fire hot spot and adjust the air so the odd little white hot coke pops up you will notice the area get really hot and after watching it to me it appears bluish white and so will the metal dont keep staring at it keep looking away ,, hope this helps

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I've always heard that smithing with charcoal is a blacksmith no-no, so to speak. How did you manage to do it? I've never even bothered to try working with charcoal.


Charcoal was used for year here in Denmark by the Vikings. Go to any of the Viking villages and you will see smithing done with charcoal. It is a matter of fire management and "learning" charcoal.

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Charcoal was used for year here in Denmark by the Vikings. Go to any of the Viking villages and you will see smithing done with charcoal. It is a matter of fire management and "learning" charcoal.

I know that, I always thought charcoal was called just coal though. when i think charcoal i think of the briquettes used for bbq.

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gave up useing coal a few years ago,waiting for the fire to burn in late 1 afternoon ,a shaft of light shone in the smithy in the coal smoke it seemed like millions of shards of glass spining around,cant get good coke around hear use only charcoal now

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I know that, I always thought charcoal was called just coal though. when i think charcoal i think of the briquettes used for bbq.


Charcoal comes from wood. Coke comes from coal. Charcoal as we are referring to it is wood that has been burned until it forms coals and then it's extinguished. I've never used it but i do plan try it sometime.

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