Work With Nature

At what temperatures is there no scale and oxidizing fire question!

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Hi if I could ask a question.  

I would like to know if one could close the gap between two pieces that are to be forge welded. (see axe picture ). My aim would be to get it up to a heat where no scale yet exists. If there is such a thing. Then I would let the piece cool down and add another round of WD40 or equivalent to the welding area in prep for the second heat to do the weld. What are the temperatures when scale starts to form and when there is none. Would there then be any soot from the first fire to prevent a clean weld? As some of you may know I can not get any borax here in India. Am planing to forge weld the small damascus billet (second picture) to the shoulders of a bit of mild steel. The gap is down to a mil in places. But I do not have a welder and the wire does not get tight enough. Might use some bolts that I might replace with some rivets to fasten it all together. But they might get in the way of the hammer for the weld. Also am going to add another piece of mild in the gap i'm thinking. Last but not least. Read about that some fires are oxidizing and others are not. Propane gas seems to stop air getting in. What about coal wood or charcoal. Could they be made into a non oxidation fires? 

Hopes this makes sense as I accidentally deleted the first post and now am tired :)

Cheers David. 

axe.PNG

Decarb..PNG

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when I googled buying borax in india  I got several hits that looked good.  Have you tried that?

Scaling is usually associated with glowing temps; so if you can forge the metal it's scaling. I heat to just below glowing, flux, heat to glowing set the billet tight, wirebrush, flux, reheat to welding temps.

What I like to do for solid fuel forges is to get the fire piled high and running hot and then stick in the cold billet and turn off all air and go have a cold drink or a pit stop. When I come back the billet should be hot enough to flux but NO O2 around while it was heating up.  Flux and proceed to welding temp.

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Kozzy   

Old school forging often used silica sand rather than borax to exclude oxygen from the joints.  Assuming that borax actually isn't available (it probably is...just dig deeper), I'm sure there are powdered ceramic glazes you can get in India which are basically clean and graded silica.  I've never tried the sand method...because borax is common as dirt...but the point is, borax isn't the only option for keeping oxygen out in forge welding.

Commercially, the typical furnace has what's called a "disassociated ammonia" atmosphere.  They pump ammonia into a hot furnace which disassociates into nitrogen and hydrogen (mostly nitrogen).  The hydrogen grabs the excess oxygen and the nitrogen simply bulks out the gas volume with something that's mostly inert at those temperatures.  Some places just pump in straight nitrogen a little like one would use argon in welding processes.  These are gas fired furnaces and they spend a LOT of time properly adjusting the burners correctly in the first place so they aren't pumping in too much oxygen for the job.

anyway...Don't reinvent the wheel.  Borax really is common in the world.  It might be called something else in India (not just translation, but they might actually call it something different) so do some digging.  As an example of that, you won't find "Monosodium glutamate (MSG)" as a food additive in China even though it's common.  They often simply call it "wonder powder", an old brand name that's become the common name.  Ask in the store for MSG, and they'll tell you they don't have it even if it's sitting on the shelf right next to the clerk.

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ThomasPowers,

You really know your stuff, cheers for all the help you have given. 

Have been trying to stay away from ordering online as there are a few rip of vendors in India who are really good at what they do. The tip about the forge, now that is something I can do and will use from now on.

So just to be sure glowing starts just at a dull red stage? Also is there any scale at the yellow to white stage? No scale forms in a fire where oxygen is not being pumped in. I think I nearly have it, am just trying to fully grasp how it all works. 

Kozzy,

Cheers for your suggestions. Well you are not to know but did just that and translated borax to both Hindi and Malayalam and went to all the towns in the area. Ended up in the pharmacy and laundry sections. The rickshaw driver thought I was nuts. As for reinventing the wheel and do get what you mean. I have no wheal but wondering if I could get the job done regardless. Unfortunately my wheels are made from clay sand and WD40. Boy I wish I had a real wheal. But if it is OK by everyone I am trying to make the best out of a challenging situation. If I could forge those pieces together at a before glowing temperatures as Thomas mentioned then I could stick the WD40 on the cool welding area. Maybe I will take a chance with the amazon India suppliers. 

the iron dwarf,

Hey that is a good idea, thanks. Will give it a go.

BIGGUNDOCTOR,

You know I think that kind of info is great. Is it possible to use it as a flux then? 

 

I don't want to mess up the small axe I am making whilst at the same time trying to get my head around the hole thing. 

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Either you want to forge weld or you do not.  Stop being so cheap, and buy the Borax to prevent scaling, it is not expensive and the little risk of loosing $3 for a a kilo is not that great. they have better ways of stealing money then with a low cost item like borax

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6 hours ago, Work With Nature said:

 Ended up in the pharmacy and laundry sections. The rickshaw driver thought I was nuts.

You are not nuts at all, sounds like you were in exactly the right part of town. Borax is used as a laundry additive and is a very common chemical, I would be amazed if nobody in India sold it, though as the guys have said possibly under a completely different name.

Keep looking and asking around I am sure you will find some, well worth the effort - not expensive and helps greatly with what you are trying to do.

Good luck with the search....

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Pharmacy generally sell small amounts for high prices; laundry, pottery supply, chemical suppliers...It's an evaporite and so India may actually produce it---hmm: " World's oldest commercial borate deposits are in Puga, Kashmir, India."  So it's there; it's just finding it and what it's called there.  

Actually scale starts forming at room temperature.  It just does so so slowly that you don't notice it; leave a piece of steel out for several thousand years and you might...  As you heat steel all chemical reactions run faster; generally it starts getting to be a problem for smithing when it's in the glowing range; which starts around 900 degF and going up till it melts---and then oxide forms at the top of the puddle if exposed to O2

And yes; scale is magnetite, Fe3O4, so no oxygen, no scale!

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On 9/7/2017 at 10:04 AM, Steve Sells said:

Either you want to forge weld or you do not.  Stop being so cheap, and buy the Borax to prevent scaling, it is not expensive and the little risk of loosing $3 for a a kilo is not that great. they have better ways of stealing money then with a low cost item like borax

Having been to India and talked to smiths there, I can say that $3 US can be a SERIOUS amount of money to some over there.  Borax is not a requirement for forge welding so if he wants to find his own way without it let's encourage and advise rather than criticize. 

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if $3 is too much for what amounts to be a multi year supply to make his life easier after all his talking about it, over 2 threads. then maybe smithing is too expensive for him as well, because he will burn up a lot more than $3 worth of steel trying to learn forge welding with out it.  I am trying to help rather than insult his ability to afford it, after all he can afford internet access.   He said he was worried about being robbed in am online sale,  

Edited

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Ha I am robed on a daily bases and do you think I am to encourage that? India is another world. Hard to grasp if you never have been here :)  it is true that 3$ is a useful amount over here. As someone already financing a heirloom seed saving project and stay here in India by myself with only YouTube as an income. Can tell you getting ript of is not great. But anyway it really is beside the point. What I do have a problem with is this. If you do not know an answer to a question then just say so and don't criticize my wanting to try something else or my thirst for knowledge. A comment like that will make me just not ask anymore. Plus I did not get a satisfactory answer to my specific question (no obligation) in regards to a substitute for a both cleansing and encasing flux. Borax is such a flux and that is why people use it. But I am also entitled to find out if there is one out there that can be as good as borax. The guy or girl who tried borax for the first time did us all a favor. Maybe someone knows of a material that would be great as a proper substitute. Limiting ourself's to just one is not good in my opinion and most importantly, if there is no proper substitute in your opinion well then just say so. At least this is the impression I am getting. It goes without saying that I do not mean sand, glass, clay, ash or hydrocarbons. As they mainly exclude 02 only. Besides this thread was on scale not borax. I just did not want you wasting your time telling me about borax so I said right up front I don't have borax. Anyways hope there is no hard feelings am off to try that axe today and will give the above ideas a go.

Cheers David. 

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jeremy k   

David - have you tried to contact any other blacksmiths in India close by you to possibly help you learn to forge weld?

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Hi Jeremy,

I have made inquiries, have come up with nothing yet. But I am watching YouTube videos and asking here on the forum. Am open to the idea though, just need to bump into the right persons to ask. Just got back and had no luck with the weld. The gap was just to big. Plus tried two pieces in the shoulders. The 19 layer one and just a piece of mild steel, maybe I bit off more than I could chew. The 19 layer one just fell out and now I can appreciate how quick a layer of scale forms around the steel. I had it all shiny and one heat it was back to black scale. The mild steel piece was stuck in by wire but stayed loose the hole time. I think it was not hot enough for the one and only heat that I had to pull it of with the hydrocarbon WD40. As far as I understand it anyways. Even tried sugar in the end with nothing to lose. Made a nice flame. But I had a great day at it and learned heaps. So I am happy enough. 

Cheers David. 

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JHCC   

David, did you ever pick up some borax in the laundry section of town?

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51 minutes ago, Work With Nature said:

 Just got back and had no luck with the weld. The gap was just to big.

Hi David

I feel we may all have prematurely jumped on the borax bandwagon here and missed a fundamental point of your original post.

If, as you say, the gap is too large between the pieces then by the time you get them up to heat scale will have had more chance to form than if they are a tight fit, plus the time you then spend hammering them together will let them potentially cool down below forge welding temperature. Can you not forge them to a tight fit before you even think about starting the welding process? Might be all you need to do....

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Borax is pretty much the cheapest most easily found flux that is more aggressive than the simple oxygen barring fluxes like ground glass---and that doesn't work until the temps are very high.

May I commend to your attention this thread from back in the newsgroups days when the internet was text based;  if you read the entire thread it does give the recipe for JPH's "steel-glue" flux and mentions the toxic nature of some of it's components! (recipe from a post around 1997 And yes I was the one posting the "earlier post"; shoot I was around for the RFP for alt.crafts.blacksmithing...

https://groups.google.com/forum/#!topic/alt.crafts.blacksmithing/XkUB_KrvdkY

One issues with fluxes is that many of them work well at very high temps where the scale melts on it's own---as was common with real wrought iron welding.  Unfortunately this is in the burning temps for most high carbon modern steels and so a more aggressive flux that would work at lower temps was figured out and borax came into use. (There is some discussion on how to weld the "new" steels in "Practical Blacksmithing" Richardson, 1889, 1890, 1891)

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Hi JHCC,

Did try, spend one day driving around going into every shop and pharmacy and also even till now always on the look out if I am in a new town. Yesterday went into town to the tool place where they sell welders. but they don't have it. Asked him to order some but he did not know where. But not to worry I will figure a way of getting it yet. 

Cheers EnglishDave,That is exactly the problem. I did cold forge them as close as I could, but the steel is 5 mil thick and no matter what I do there is a gap. Then when the steel heats up it just falls apart. The front billet that was to be the cutting edge just slid out. Welding it would help. But I used a very thick wire and clamped it together before tightening. That is why I was asking about the temperature when scale starts to form, well more when there is none. So I could bash the pieces together is what I thought. 

Thanks again ThomasPowers,

Wow did read the entire thread. Steel glue hey. Was very informative and confirmed that I am kind of on the right track. That makes some difference to me knowing that. Copied the recipe down for when I can get all the ingredients at a future time. Ah of course at a high enough temperature the scale just melts. Makes sense that. Alright have a great day you guys.

David. 

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You did ask in the other thread and a flux is the best way to deal with scale forming.  If you object so much to chemical answers to your problem with scale forming why would you post it in the chemistry section rather than in general smithing?

Edited

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Frosty   

Dave: I believe there are philosophies of politeness in India. No? Perhaps you could use some counseling. Making long excuses and accusing folk trying to help you with being critical (like critical thinking is a bad thing) isn't likely to get you very far. India has been producing forge welded steel longer than probably any other culture on Earth. You should be answering this question not asking it. No?

Frosty The Lucky.

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Steve Sells,

Frosty,

I have done nothing wrong. I do not know why both of you have gotten personal on this. I think it spoils a post like this. I was nothing but polite. I have come to this forum to ask for help and trying to understand how it all works. Also I have read many threads on the subject even here on this forum. I was under the impression by the way this forum works that help is freely offered. If my asking questions seams to get some people hot and bothered then that is not my problem. Really is not. I have asked specific questions and posted specific threads as those are the rules as far as I understand them about forums. So what do you want from me?

Edit: I do not have a problem what so ever with chemicals that is an assumption. You can clearly see from the posts above that I am using WD40. Besides borax is not poison! It is a mineral. I think Steve you are just looking for a fight. Why? Please do not bother me if that is your attitude. 

Frosty, please mind your own business in regards to what type of counseling I may or may not need. I think you guys are not being very appropriate. 

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Weld shops generally have flux for applying to clean brass and copper brazing rods, that will work as a welding flux. 

Are there any elders who were smiths or horse showers in your area? They may be able to help. 

suhaga I belive is the Hindi worked for borax. Crazy Johnie may be an English brand available to you. Or here is another. 

You may have to order on line, I found a few Amazon brands available in India. 

Please forgive Steve and Jerry, they mean well but sometimes we all reach or limit of frustration. Also forgive Jerry as to asking wether you needed counseling. We realize that not every one is as open and excepting of mental illness as we on IFI have chosen to be. I my self am inflicted with Type II bipolar illness and post traumatic stress disorder. It is still taboo, we realize in many parts of the world. 

All else failed their are fluxes methods, they require very clean fires, very clean and well matched surface, proper heat and a very firm tap with out beating the poo dunk out of the stock. 

 

 

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Hi Charles R. Stevens,

thanks I know everyone is just trying to help and will forgive them as I think they did not read the entire thread fully before commenting. Perhaps they are busy guys with all the threads they have to go through. Tried the amazon today but they don't do paypal. But one of your members was very kind and wants to send me some. He private messaged me and am very thrilled that I can now get going in a proper way with the welds. Please do understand though that my questioning was not just about borax. Finding out when scale is there or not is just another piece in the puzzle. Knowing about some of the different fluxes and that some are cleaning, covering and how the dry flux works helps tons. Just to name some of the information made available on this forum, by some of your members to newbies like me. Most of you were educated properly in blacksmithing. I am just a beginner who is trying to learn from videos and forums and my mistakes. Last but not least I have managed two successful forge welds using the WD40 and dry method of cleaning everything to a shine and having the surfaces flat as can be. The small billet above. I thought I might with some help and advise, pull of the axe in the same manner. But you live and you learn. I do not need anymore help with borax though. Unless someone might know go to such and such a shop in kollam I really do not wish to waste anyone's time on that subject anymore. If however anybody in the future does come across a suitable borax substitute. You know can clean and cover the weld and does it at the proper temperature or any info regarding how one could pull of a weld on an axe like that with no borax then please let me know. 

 

Sorry to hear that such an illness is affecting you. 

Best wishes David. 

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On 9/6/2017 at 9:55 AM, Work With Nature said:

I see now that my question was not clear enough. I was tired when I wrote it. This is what I said.

Hi if I could ask a question.  

I would like to know if one could close the gap between two pieces that are to be forge welded. (see axe picture ). My aim would be to get it up to a heat where no scale yet exists. If there is such a thing. I should have said: Is it possible to close the gap between two pieces to be welded before attempting the actual forge weld. Would this create scale? Could I use WD40 to get the job done? Please note I do not need an answer from you on this as it has been answered already. Just clarifying here. Also I should have said. I do not need any more info regarding borax thank you. For some bizarre reason that is the info I was getting. The same over on the other thread. 

Last but not least on second thought, I am shocked actually by the behavior on this thread. It leaves a sour taste in my mouth and I shan't be bothering with this forum anymore if the moderators behave like that. Thank you to all who did help answer questions in a respectful manner though. 

Cheers David. 

 

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The more carbon the lower the welding temp, so many old school fluxes just are not applicable. Honestly the welding supply company you visited should have had welding flux, it's just that laundry borax is cheaper here.

for fluxless welding, one heats the steel slowly in the carberizing environment above the hot spot of the fire, and as you descoverd, clean and closely matched are absolutely nessisary. Some steels form oxides (such as oxides of Chrome in spring steels) at low temps that make it exempt harder. That's were a local plumber may come in handy as they have fluxes that melt at just below that temp. Try searching for "fluxless welding" on IFI, their was some descusian a few years back. 

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