Gijotoole

Bag of Cable

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So I know a guy that works in a shipyard and he got me about 20' of brand new cable from their cranes and winches. I told him I'd try to weld him a knife if he can get me "some cable" but he really went above and beyond. When I get back home I'm going to see what I can do with it. It's almost all about 3/4" or 1/2" so it might be a bit small, but I think I can at least get some practice with welding it. My last pattern welded blade didn't turn out right - probably because I didn't get it quite hot enough and had some flux inclusion problems.

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First, make sure it isn't galvanized.  Any zinc present will not only keep it from welding up but is toxic to breath.  I make knives from that sized cable all the time.  Forge it up into a square bar then fold it back on itself.  That will give you enough mass to draw it out properly without ruining the patterning.

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its all good carbon steel. I checked it when it came in. Some of it is a bit oily and greasy - I'll just burn it off - but almost all of it is brand new.

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Somebody told me that they think the cable I have is galvanized; how do I find out other than tossing it in the forge, which is outside, and seeing if the flame color changes? It is a 6x19 cable with two individual nylon threads that ran through its length - black and green, and they're removed now. Also, I have read on other forums that if I throw galvanized metal in the forge and the zinc melts then I'll probably never be able to weld because of the residue - I'm still looking into this. Cable in question pictured below. I can't get it to rotate for some reason.

IMG_4457.JPG

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One drop of hydrochloric acid will immediately tell you if it's got any zinc coating. It'll bubble almost instantly with zinc and will pretty much just sit there with plain steel.  HCl is usually available in quarts at most home centers and is common at swimming pool supply places.  HCl is usually what they use to etch concrete so you might find it in the concrete section or the paint section near the concrete coatings.  Not expensive.  

Do a galvanized nail first to see what you are looking for.  After one try you'll know what you need to see.  

Yes, it's an acid so take appropriate precautions.  It's not so concentrated (retail) that you need to get crazy with precautions but normal safety is warranted.

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Muriatic acid is the common name for diluted hydrochloric acid (HCl.). It has many uses. For example for cleaning up masonry work. etc. Big box hardware chains sell it as well as other hardware stores, and paint & cleaning supply stores. It must be treated with respect. Look up acid handling instructions on the net before using it. Muriatic acid is usually 40% HCl. Which % is nothing to trifle with. It demands careful precautions and handling.  But, by all means, use acids where they are required. They do the job.

SLAG.

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What do you propose to do with the ferric chloride? Etch pattern welded steel implements? Ditto, what are you trying to do with zinc. Anhydrous ferric chloride produces much heat when it reacts (i.e. it's exothermic). It's also corrosive. Ingestion can cause great damage and even death. Vapor can be produced, so strong ventilation is required, (for example a fume hood). or the reaction should be done outside with good ventilation). What ae doing with zinc?  Zinc gasses can cause metal fume fever when inhaled. For example heating galvanized iron. Any reaction that gives off these fumes should be done with a respirator, and preferably outside. It makes more sense to treat the zinc coating with hydrochloric acid to remove it, and NOT by burning the coating off.

A very good friend killed himself by doing just that 11 years ago.

SLAG.

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Well, I figured that if I dip the eip cable in fecl3 it will get a patina. If it's stainless or galvanized then it won't. Bad news - the big cable is stainless. The smaller cable is carbon, but it's a bit small to do anything with. I think I'll give it another go and band a handful of cables together to make one bundle of four cables and see how that welds. After I finish building my new forge and get a burner in it, of course.

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We have massive reels of that inch cable (it's used here for the safety fences around our stock car race track), but I have yet to find a piece that is not galvanised. Even the rusty looking stuff has gal on the inside and I do not like those blue flames and white smoke in my forge. And acid (HCl) dipping doesn't seem to get at all the gal. I would really like to try that cable welding but not taking the risks with this stuff.

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