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lyuv

Working wrought iron

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Yesterday I worked for the first time, what is suppose to be wrought iron. Trying to simply draw a thick bar. Within 30 minuts, it developed many cracks and layers seperations.

I failed to forge weld it back, with and without flux.

A friend told me the cracking is because I need to work at extra high temperature. Close to burning. Is he right? Any other advice?

Is this typical of wrought iron?

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Yes most wrought iron works best above the burning temperature of modern steels---hard for us whose "habits" are developed working modern steels.  For me it takes an act of will to heat it up to where it likes to work as I cam in through bladesmithing and so have "high Carbon Steel Habits".

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I just made a set of tongs from WI and yes you have to work it at high yellow (just starting to sparkle) or it will separate.  I worked the reigns at too low of heat drawing them out and had to re-weld them. Like JustAnotherViking said no flux was needed.

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OK, I"m confused.

I always heard that wrought iron is "delight" to work with. But now I see that:

1. It must be on the verge of burning, so I can easily burn it if I miss a little.

2. If it gets too cold, the work piece will be ruined (welding is not always an option. especialy as the work progresses to it's end).

3. Obviously, if it's hotter, it also cools faster. Hence WI has a shorter forging time for each heat.

So WI sounds like a nightmare rather than a delight. Am I wrong?

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You are right; it can be a nightmare for those of us who have been brought up on mild steel. It is very easy to turn a wrought rod into a convincing tooth brush.  However, for some projects it can be worth persisting with, as it can have a really attractive, lustrous finish. I rarely use it, and it's certainly not my best friend in the forge, but for rustic looking crosses and items that don't need much drawing out or punching it can work. Unfortunately, a lot of the stuff in our extensive scrap is wrought, some much heavier than anything I would ever use.  I'm happy to give it away to whoever wants it, but I think most smiths like the easier option of using something more forgiving. I admire the skills of anyone who can make a decent looking bottle opener from a wrought iron rail spike!

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The coarser the grade of WI, the more difficult it is to work and the easier it is to identify in the scrap stream.  The finer grades are easier to work with. I love forge welding the stuff as you can have your welds. disappear!

I must say that your list sounds a lot like high carbon steel:

    It burns at a lower temperature

    You can't work it too cold as it cracks

    It has a shorter forging interval

    You can't quench it to localize heat

    You can't just lay it down when hot without taking care for contact quenching.

It's a real nightmare!  But somehow a lot of us seem to want to work it...and manage to do so.

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