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I Forge Iron

Arc welding and forging

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Hi all,

I need to join work pieces, and forge welding is very difficult (both because of the project's construction, and my lack of skill). My only other welding option is arc welding. That is, other than changing the entire design.

So my question is: Can I blend the weld "seam" into the work so the metal will look continuous? no colour and texture change.

I should mention the pieces to join are rather thin (flower's leaves and petals). So the welding will be as minimal as possible.

Any advice will be appreciated.


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Without seeing the actual project it is difficult to advise, but in general terms... 

It will depend on the final finish of the piece. If pickled and armour bright you may see a colour change, if hot waxed you may not. If painted you won't see the colour change of the metal, but by removing one visual reference your eyes focus on the form below the paint surface and you will see the slightest hollow or waisting if you are not meticulous about maintaining the section when grinding out the weld.

If the rest of the surface is hot forged texture obviously the ground or filed section of the weld will show. You can put it back in the fire and planish the joint to blend the texture. Depending on the project you might be able to use a needle descaler to texture the ground surface and blend it into the forged one. On finer work I have hammered a piece of abrasive sanding disc onto the smooth ground surface which acts as a matting punch and helps blend the textures.

Welding in any form is not an unskilled option. If your piece is designed to look like it was fire welded, that is probably your best option to achieve that look. You see so many awkward looking branch welds that have been arc welded, and they still look "stuck on". The time taken to prepare, weld, and grind up will probably not save much time, if any, over fire welding and it is a poor end result visually.

If you have a number to do, your fire welding skills will be greatly improved by the time you have finished!

Zanni the great CoSiRA flower forging instructor over here 60 years ago used to have an anvil set in the side of the hearth for welding up his flowers...I have seen Carnations, and Roses of his that were exquisite.


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By "arc" I meant stick welding. I do have some experience with that.

The project is a flower on a stem, and some leaves attached to that stem and a scrolling "vine". The flower is along the lines of the attached photo (not mine. found on the internet for inspiration).

The main stem is 8mm, and the stems of the petals (and leaves) are about 3mm. So heat is a serious issue, trying to forge weld. Especialy, as there are several around the same spot. I"m sure a seasoned blacksmith could tackle this, but I dont qualify as a newbie yet.

Back to cheating, I mean, stick welding - the finish should be "forged black". So I would try to hot hammer the weld to blend it into the base metal. Wire brush it all, and hot bee wax it. Is that a workable plan? especialy regarding making the welds blend/vanish?


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The branch welds on that I would fireweld, you will always see where the arc starts otherwise, even if you chisel or file a vee. The firewelded branching elements just flow together.

Obviously an actual flower or shrub does not look like a fire welded branch weld, but this is an interpretation of a natural form using the properties of the material...the chosen media. 

I would suggest you tie the leaves and petal elements together with soft iron wire and weld in one go.

The butt weld between flower head and stem you could arc weld and blend/lose it...but just as difficult with a stick as with a fire weld which requires no further blending or hiding. TIG or gas might be a bit easier for that butt weld...but the over all time taken would not save money.

If you want to produce a fire welded form why not fireweld it? Nothing wrong with an arc weld, but it has different characteristics and visual properties. Learning to produce a fire welded form by fire welding is a skill that is worth having...it really is win win.

It is obscured by the dish but the base of the stem in the image appears to show a couple of blobs of weld which look awkward and interrupt the otherwise graceful flow of the stems.



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I've made several floral things like this in the past, specifically 30mm x 3mm flat bar creased into that same sort of grass like shape then stick welded to 12mm round bar so just one point on the subject of stick welding items like this...

Because building up stick welds is a major PITA because you've got to knock of the slag between each tiny bead, you might find it aesthetically nicer and functionally easier to clamp the flat bar up against the round, then mark a vertical cut line on the flat bar so you're not cutting the flat bar at 90 degrees to the round & having to stack up loads of short beads to make it flow into the round. That way you also maintain the outer/back face of the flat bar in it's entire length, which helps to keep the natural look and reduces the amount of sculpting you have to do with files/grinders to make it flow.

Just to throw the cat amongst the pigeons and chuck in a thought process I've recently gone through with my own work - arc welding gives you so much more potential than fire welding - why not use it? Why have all flowers got to be life like with seamless transitions, why can't they be abstract and use the weld for character?

These gates were inspired by C.R Mackintosh's rose flower stained glass windows for a client that wanted roses and climbing branches. I'm not saying they're better in any way than what you want to do, I'm just illustrating a point that you've got a tool in that stick welder that gives you a whole other scope of creative possibilities. I took these pics during the dummy run install before they went off for finishing. They're just a bit easier to see than the daytime pics because of the light contrast.


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Thanks Joel. That's a REALY lovely piece of art.

I do realize the potential in arc welding (along with other techniques) to produce great results, But there is a little more to the story:

Several weeks ago the wife had her 50th birthday. However, at that time my Mother was very sick and passed away, so I was troubled and preoccupied and couldn't arange a gift. Let alone, a gift that is proper for the occasion (50!), not cheesy and wasn't already given several times (50!!!).

A little before that, I picked blacksmithing, and set up s smithy. So I figured I"ll make something with my sweat and blood, that is clearly not for me (= not-a-knife) and the wife might like. Hence the flower. And it must be forged.

Or should I say, "made BY the forge"?

At that point, I realize I can't forge weld it all. so it must a least LOOK forged. ("FORGED"?).

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Sorry to hear of your circumstances, but whatever you make your wife will love it, because you made it.

Just picking up on your last comment of "it must look forged". I've noticed a lot of blacksmiths (at all skill and experience levels) can look straight for the "geeky giveaways" like arc welds VS forge welds and almost miss the bigger picture. I do it myself all the time, and it irritates me.

It's a present for your wife, will she get more enjoyment from the welds or the flower? The ensemble will definitely look forged regardless of how you weld it.

I really don't want to come across like I'm educating you, I'm new to all this myself and know very little, I'm just repeating a thought shift I've recently gone through with welding.

Just as a by the by, there's a sculptor on Instagram I follow who's work is outstanding. I'm completely jealous of his vision and imagination of what you can do with welding...



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