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I Forge Iron

Forge Welds Not Taking.

John Martin

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I was making a nail header and was using 3/16 inch steel. I wanted to make it strong, so I bent it over, so that it was 6/16 inch, and I heated bright yellow, forge weld temperature, sparking and everything, tried to forge weld it, but it wouldn't weld. Don't know what I was doing wrong.

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coal, charcoal or gass forge?
Definatly use flux.. it makes life alot easier..
If you're using coal, you might have clinker messing up your welds.. also, try and burn out the impurities in the coal before you weld.. (minimal smoke should be good)
Gas forge, mabey theres to much oxygen in your furnace.. try tossing in a few chunks of charcoal or coal to burn up some of it.
Charcoal, I have no idea.. but im sure someone else does..

Try using a flux.. theres a reason people do it..

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I dry weld bar shoes in a coal/coke fire all the time not for the beginner, definitely flux it there are fluxes that have things in them to help ease the welding I think they sell some here. In my gas forge I use 20 mule team ( which is borax) or anhydrous borax and works fine for me. Not knowing what type of fuel you are using makes us guess if you can tell us that you could get better help. Also when I am forge welding things like bar shoes I have the stock touching at a red heat I tap to make sure they are close as I can get them then flux bring up to a weld heat bring out brush and tap flip tap back into the heat and repeat, then I start working on my edges we call it peeling the corner down I do this to both side then once you are sure you have a good weld then you can start forging the stock down. If you don't have it stuck it will just pop apart and frustrate the heck out of you. I would also find a smith that is near that knows how to forge weld. If you were welding high carbon stock it probably would have been welded mild steel can be a bit tougher to weld especially if you don't clean the scale from the weld area.

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Okay, I am using charcoal. I bought this steel from Farm and Fleet, it says Mild Weldable Steel. I've forge welded other steel from Farm and Fleet that says the same thing. Where can I buy borax or flux from other than places like CentaurForge. Could I find it at a local Wal-Mart or Farm and Fleet? Thank-You all for your help so far.

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You can get 20 Mule Team Borax in the laundry isle of most groceries. I use it and it works just fine. With charcoal make sure you have a real deep fire so that excess oxygen is burned off before it reaches your stock. Tap lightly. Don't whang on the metal or you will drive off the molten metal along with your scale and flux. The metal available at Farm Fleet can be a bit fussy for getting a decent weld. If you have a metal dealer or welding shop near by I would say that either would be a better and cheaper place to get stock.

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If it is called mild weldable steel it is probably A36. That is a structural grade and often has a lot of recycled steel in it. As such you may find a piece or just a section of a piece that has some alloying element in it that makes that specific piece hard to weld in a forge. I ran into the same problem when playing with rebar, some worked some didn't.


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Get some anhydras borax, not the 20 mule team stuff.
Watch for the flux to start bubbling in the forge and when the steel starts to give off the odd spark it should weld.
High carbon steel will weld at a lower heat then low carbon steel will.
When I make my Damascus steel I always arrange the steel so that I'm welding the high carbon steel together rather than the low carbon steel.
I also grind the surfaces of the bars to be welded clean before I stack them.
The thing you have to watch for is overheating high carbon steel.
If it looks like a Halloween sparkler it's burned and it's done for.
Once you get this forge welding down it becomes second nature, I never get bad welds anymore.



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The comments you've gotten are all helpful. Read the references. In short,
1) get the scarfs right
2) get the fire hot and non-oxidizing
3) both pieces need to reach welding temperature
4) tap it together. Resist the urge to whale on it!
5) stop forging when it gets down to just bright red. Take a second near-welding heat to finish the forging.
Simple, huh?

This caused me a lot of frustration, too, until I went to an open forge and had it demonstrated where I could see for myself what a good scarf looked like, what a welding heat looked like, what kind of blows were needed, etc.

Can you connect up with a nearby club?

Walking Dog

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  • 3 weeks later...

Make sure your anvil is hot, and try welding at a little lower temp. Sometimes too much sparkle indicates too much oxygen getting to your work... get a good reducing fire, bring up to light yellow with just a touch of flux. Hot anvil helps here as does speed and not hitting it too hard for such small work.

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heh, M.. if your using solid fuel I like to put the steel as close to the top as possible while still having something to burn up the oxy entering from the top.. know what I mean? that way you have max depth below the steel to eat up most of the oxy which means less to the steel..
4-Mule team borax works fine for me..
Just tried out charcoal for the first time today and loved it.. easiest forge weld ever.

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