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I Forge Iron

Complete Beginner

Jon Kerr

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Jon-  welding...

Been doing so, both arc and mig welding since I was 18yrs old. Now, 47! Lol.. a few tips?

Definately get your power source sorted out. Here in the states we run on a different Hertz cycle I believe... and 110v/220v but normally I'd run on a 20 amp circuit if possible. You run on 220v there correct?

Don't run on an extension cord if you can. I know it sounds dumb... but the shorter the electrical cord to the socket, the more amperage increase, less resistance, the better your circuit breaker will like it. I currently have a 110v mig that runs just fine on a 100ft extension cord in my shed. As long as I'm tack welding, or running very short welds. Any longer than an inch or so bead- and I'm blowing a breaker. Move to my garage, off the extension and I can weld all day.

Arc welder vs mig- be happy to start with the arc first. Challenge yourself to learn the method, and when you move to mig welding, you'll be so much more the better welder for it. You still have to use the same exact skills in mig welding, to get a good weld and fill. It's not just point and shoot. The only real skill difference is that you dont have to physically compensate for length of the rod burning, the mig automatically feeds it.

Later, when you have a mig... you'll understand the differences and limitations of each. And you'll have both machines already to do almost anything you need to. The penetration and fill you get from an 1/8" welding rod- will never completely match a .030 wire in comparison. Apples and oranges... (I've said that backwards- a larger, deeper burn and fill from arc weld than mig weld in one pass.)

Theres so much more, but nothing that patience, practice and time cant teach you. 

Good luck with a new skill!

Edited by Welshj
Clarity and spelling
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  • 4 months later...

Hi all,

Not managed as much forging as I'd like, but Ive been steadily hammering away. I wish Id managed to keep these thread up to date- I may do a big photo dump of my progress at some point for anyone whos interested.

My latest project (well, actually, I tried and failed on this around 9 months ago, came back to it today and had a lot more success), I need some help from the curmudgeons please!

I finally got the weld to take on this hammer face- its a mystery steel welded to a wrought iron body.

The face and body werent perfectly size matched so I did try to do some blending once the weld was set.

Ive got these cracks/cold shuts/delamination (im not sure- most likely cold shuts from the attempt to blend) along 3 sides.

Can these be fixed? Will they close at a welding heat?






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  • 1 month later...

Tonight I did a test piece for my first ever damascus.

Just a simple weld of 6 layers, but something Ive never achieved before.

Incredibly happy, this feels like a huge step forward.

Tomorrow I'll give it a twist and see how the pattern turns out.



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Looks like your welds stuck nicely,  so congrats there.  If you plan on going for a blade a few suggestions:

  1. If the first welds seemed to go well, you might consider cutting in three, cleaning and welding that stack. 6 layers is a bit light for a twist pattern if you plan on forging to shape IMHO.
  2. Before twisting, shape section to octagon at least to minimize potential cold shunts down the road.
  3. If forging a blade be aware of how far you plan to forge out in the lengthwise direction. This will loosen the twist in your billet and the pattern on the blade will reflect that.
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to help keep things clear about re stacking, a 6 layer billet leaves only 3 pieces per side, a twist will go a long way to adding some dimension to the billet, but as already said; the twist will open up as it gets drawn out.  Only do the twisting at welding heat

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Hi guys,

Thanks for the advice, greatly appreciated.

I gave serious consideration to the layer count and.... decided to choose the lazy option and leave it as 6 layers as a learning excercise. I just want to see what happens with a really low layer count.

I forged to roundish before twisting, but not perfectly round. I regret not taking the time here to get it perfect as I assume it would have avoided the below issue?

What do i now do about potential cold shuts? Some sections already seem to have cold shuts from the tight twist, while other look like they are ok and could be forged back to flat without issue. Do I just grind out the problem regions?





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Well, I did as I said. Ground out the problem areas and forged the rest back to round, then square.

... and I made a quick kitchen knife.

Couldnt resist a quick grind and test etch. Looks decent, I'm happy!

I wish Id been stricter with wire brushing the scale. I have some bad pitting from hammered in scale which may be too deep to grind out.





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Thomas- yes hopefully. Theres a fair bit of material to grind away. My backup plan is to scale it back up on the forge and go for a partially scaled/blackened finish.


Welshj- yes the line is jusy where the coffee stopped! I quite like the broad pattern too, just different. I will follow the above advice and go for a much higher layer count next time just to try different styles.


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