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I Forge Iron

Filing while its hot?

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It would be best if you could tell us a few things:

1) Where did you get the metal -- what did it used to be? MOST common iron alloys have some range of heat in which they can be forged and hot-worked. For instance, some alloys are a LOT of trouble to hand tool because they are designed to resist deformation at high heats. There is a very narrow band where such a metal is in a plastic state; it can fail spectacularly above that and be impossible to cut below that. To anneal such an alloy (M2 and M42 are examples) would require good heat-treating ovens and adherance to complex steps from their performance tables. Other alloys are much friendlier to blacksmiths.

2) What are you trying to make? Tooling, slitting, and cutting are all normal forging options. But you might have to make the tools first. We can't advise you on what tooling to make without an idea of the project.

3) Is there a way to forge the metal to the right shape? Your question sounds like machinist or fabricator thinking. That means stock removal and welding to shape. Forging manipulates the material while it is plastic. Sometimes that is not practical or even possible, but when forging IS an option, it is often actually the easiest option.

Here are specific answers to your question, though I think we can help more if you answer the above questions for us.

1) Yes, you can can (and often should) carve when hot.
2) Yes, you can use an old file or farrier rasp on hot steel.
3) Yes, it will be ruined for normal filing, which is why you use an old one.
4) Yes, you can make tools out of a material and then on itself. It is done all the time. It works because the tool is hard compared to the heated piece which is plastic.

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