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I Forge Iron

cracked metal

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I cut a blank from a harrow disc. I annealed it several times and it has lain around a couple of years. I put it in white vinegar for about 2 weeks and cleaned it a couple of times. I removed it today and cleaned it. It now has a crack in the handle that wasn't there before. What could have caused this? Could the vinegar contribute to it cracking? Maybe relieving stress?

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Likely the crack was always there, just very fine and hidden under the rust.  When you cut the section free from the rest of the disk, you relieved tension on it.  Putting it in the fire relieved even more and the crack opened up to the point that you can't miss it.  Just one of the wonderful things that happens when you use 'free' metal.

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