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I Forge Iron

Is wrought iron any good for san-mai blade?


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Got my hands on some wrought iron (VEEEERY hard to get around here), and I"m considering making a san-mai blade of it (Nakiri), for the looks.

 I have no experience with wrought iron, so I googled for such blades, and found almost none. Therefore I wonder if this is a misguided idea?


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Wrought iron is in my experience ok on san- mai blades, You only have to consider o few things:

wrought iron takes no hardness due the lack of enough carbon.

If You bend the blade and the cutting core is too thin according to blade length, it will stay bend.

Wrought iron is rusting very fast, only meteorite rusts faster.

Wrought iron is full of impurities, sometimes it reacts to hammer and fire different....it may split like opened damascus layers or just fall apart in pieces, for example.

Mostly it also can be forged like butter and fire welds easy.....and the more You forge the more the "grain" disappears.

IMHO in modern times there is very less benefit in using wrought iron on tools.

.....it looks beautiful, it is cheap(uncleaned means less effort so cheaper, or recycled stuff) it is perfect for a wood chisel with a forge welded cutting edge....that seems the benefit nowadays

Because of its tensile strength It was used for ancor chains, carriage axis, clamps for holding roof beams together and such purposes.

In Germany there is still a lot of wrought iron to find and a lot of knife colleagues having their fun with it. It comes from antique, historical or ancient sources which are still plenty

But maybe in Japan the still producing it, this I dont know.

Good luck 




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It's far easier and cheaper to make mild steel instead. Processes to make wrought iron, such as iron bloomeries are very inefficient and more suited to small batches by comparison, so it's not profitable for business. Almost no one makes it today, especially in the States, except for hobbiests.

Because of it's grain, it also works very differently than steel. One of the last common applications for it was use in marine environments, because it resists corrosion much better than mild steel. A number of smiths and knivemakers like to etch it and use it for decorative elements in knives like bolsters and such rather than make entire knives from it, since it is hard to get and doesn't harden.

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Well there was always the Byer's method of making wrought iron starting with modern refined steel in the multi ton batches...  Biggest problem after cost in using it is that it had different properties (strength, elongation, etc) depending on which way you used it vs the way it was worked making it.  Machinist, welders, *factories*  much prefer not having to keep track of that... (Byers also came up with bidirectional rolled WI to help deal with that issue, I have some and it has a "platy" tear rather than a fibrous one.)

(Note that the indirect method of making Wrought Iron, starting in the renaissance made quite large batches of it.  Hobbyists like the direct method, as you can do it in your backyard in small batches. Rather than needing a LARGE EXPENSIVE SET UP WITH MANY HIGHLY TRAINED EMPLOYEES!)


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