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ohowson

Steel splitting

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I like reusing old steel - partly because new steel is hard to buy cheaply here but mainly because it feels like the right thing to do. Plus you never know what you’re going to get. I picked up a bunch of steel the other day - probably an inch wide by I dunno, 1/16? 1/8? I’m not so good with imperial a looks about 3-4mm

whenever I try to work it it’s just splitting - totally unusable. Is this something I’m doing wrong or is it more likely the steel is so overworked it’s broken down?

I’m amateur status - did have a good look through but couldn’t see any useful posts on this. 

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It also looks like it may be wrought iron which needs to be worked hotter than steel.  More care required not to burn it.

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That's what (some) people on reddit suggested. Didn't get it hot enough to burn it. I'll leave it in the scrap bin for now and either trade it in or work it when I get more experience. Was hoping to make some wrist cuffs from it but possibly not experienced enough to roll hinges yet!

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I agree with Steve, it looks burnt.  When I first started out with a coal forge, I couldn't figure out why things took forever to get hot, then suddenly burned.  It tended to happen at the end of a forging session.  Turns out, I was letting hollows develop in my burning coal/coke.  The air blast had less resistance going around the fire so the heart didn't really get hot.  Here's the weird part.  That air blast tended to form a little jet that acted in much the same way as a cutting torch.  The little stream of oxygen among burning fuel was capable of burning through stock that was barely red anywhere else.  

 

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Odd that only that metal burns wouldn’t you say though? Nothing else I have done - including much thinner stuff - has done that. 

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No, if that stock is burning in the same conditions as other steel IT is burning. Nothing odd at all, it is what it is. Have you done side by side comparisons to gauge whether this and the other steel are behaving differently? I have to say that stock is burning ugly but I've seen worse. 

Are you following the junk yard rules? Scrap & scrounge is mystery metal. There is no way to know what you actually have in hand. Spark testing only gives you an indication of carbon content but other agents in an alloy can mimic the effects on sparks. The BEST you can do is determine what YOU can do with it. I emphasize YOU because your skills and experience will make a big difference in how much and what you can get from any given piece of steel.

Were this happening to me I'd be paying REALLY close attention to my fire, probably make a bee hive with a peep hole so I can watch the stock while it's heating. Steel can NOT burn in the reducing zone of a coal fire. Yes?

Frosty The Lucky.

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3 hours ago, Frosty said:

No, if that stock is burning in the same conditions as other steel IT is burning. Nothing odd at all, it is what it is. Have you done side by side comparisons to gauge whether this and the other steel are behaving differently? 

Yes, that’s what I said. I was using other steel at the same time - both thicker and thinner - that didn’t burn like that. 

As you say - mystery metal - it’s no biggy I have lots of steel to play with. 

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What I mean by, "side by side," is both in the fire right next to each other at the same time.

I've picked up a lot of . . . things that weren't good for forging, it's just part of the game.

Frosty The Lucky.

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Yah, that's burnt all day long.  Sparking when ya pulled it out?  Also, speaking of burnt, looks like med tape or ace bandage on your hand, forging injury?

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Just now, Nobody Special said:

Yah, that's burnt all day long.  Sparking when ya pulled it out?  Also, speaking of burnt, looks like med tape or ace bandage on your hand, forging injury?

No sparks; next time I fire the forge up I'll do some experimenting.

And yes - 2nd degree on four fingers. forgot I'd flipped a bar around, had *just* lost colour (I wasn't paying attention - was forging whilst 'working from home'). Life lesson, hasn't put me off and I got some nice meds from A&E :)

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Hmmm...don't suppose there's a chance it's cast iron then.  Cast iron crumbles when you try to forge it, and looks kind of burnt too. 

Watch out.  Black metal will get ya.  First rule when I teach in my shop is consider everything you see hot, heavy, or sharp. Test it first.  Even a feather pillow.  I still get burnt anyways. Oops.  I stick to aloe for mine, never pop the blister.  Probably have a slew of home remedies popping up in a minute.

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no home remedy here, but I know first hand what a burning thumb smells like.  Just quit hammering, was going for a re-heat, moved the stock, wiped off the anvil, with a sweeping motion as I was turning toward the forge with still orange steel in other hand.  It happened so fast, and burned so cleanly, there was only the smell of burning skin, and a off color spot on my thumb, No pain, or burning sensation, as the nerve endings were instantly destroyed in that spot.

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It looks to me like wrought iron that was loose and it has rust in between the fibers. When heated the rust will flake away. I've seen this before several times 

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Looks more like rotten wrought iron to me too (forgive, im a wood butcher by upbringing) 

brainstorming - but would faggoting this steel once make a difference?

burns - not that it will do you a lot of good now, but as soon as you get burned next time (cause there will be a next time) get it wet and keep it wet. wet rag, wet paper towel stuffed in a glove, small bucket of clean water... just kill that burn with water. but just water - no ice. works for all burns. and like Nobody said - dont pop the blister

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Like Steve said. Burnt

Here's a safety tip. If you get a burn, put your hand immediately in your water bucket. 

Another safety tip. Always test a piece of black iron with the back of your hand before picking it up. The back of your hand is far more heat sensitive than the front. This will save most burns,and a quick quench will deal with the rest.

 

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also when burnt the hand closes, pulling away from the heat;  if you used the palm, you would grab it and make things worse

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Many, many years ago when I worked in the power department of Inland Steel in East Chicago, IN we had a lot of hot pipes carrying live steam.  Some pipes were insulated, some were not.  The old hands taught me to test any pipe you were going to touch, e.g. if you were going to use it as a hand hold, with the back of the fingers or hand for the same reasons mentioned previously but also, if you did get burned, having a burn on the back of your hand was not as disabling as on the front.  A burn on the palm of your hand would very likely be a lost time injury while one on the back of your hand would probably be just an inconvenience.

"By hammer and hand all arts do stand."

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All great information for the uninitiated.

I personally would rather burn my palm. In fact I burned it a few times forging the ax.   The skin on the back of the hand though more sensitive is also more fragile and also because of the range of motion if you burn a finger joint or a knuckle joint will take longer to heal up..   

It takes me a long time to feel whether it's hot or not..   Especially after a few days at the forge with heavy, hot items and close work. 

If the item is large enough I will use the back of my hand because it will produce enough heat in a short period of time and can feel it from a distance. 

I learned a long time ago that when working in a blacksmithing shop (equally important in a welding or machine shop too) to assume everything is hot..  Everything.. With that in mind you always test something you are not certain of and it is usually not with the back of the hand. 

Because I have working hands i can touch metal and if the skin burns off some that is ok.. as I am just touching it lightly enough to test it..  

I assume the item is hot enough to burn so if I am uncertain I will just grab tongs and put the item in water to cool (if not a knife or edged tool).. Or will quickly run my finger on it, or spit on it.. 

If I do grab something (like I have when working with other people and they leave hot items on the work bench). I immediately put my hand into the slack tub for a bit and then will go find a colder source. 

BLACK HEAT is the most dangerous ..  You can't see if its hot.  Assume everything is hot so approach it with some thought. 


 

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This is an old, old joke but I'll mention it for the young 'uns who may not of heard it.  This may come under the heading of stupid Dad jokes.  Anyway, the local busybody comes into the blacksmith shop and picks up a horseshoe that the smith has left on the anvil to cool (it is at black heat).  Of course, the busybody quickly drops the shoe and the smith asks, "A little hot for you?" to which the busybody replies, "No, it just doesn't take me long to look at a horse shoe." 

"By hammer and hand all arts do stand."

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That is really funny.. 

Years back I had two youngsters who would swing sledge for me.. Scotty and Clint.. Brothers and they were both super great at sledge work.. 

They worked with me for about 2 years and Clint finally took interest in working on his own..  So he came over for a lesson and left a round hot rod on the anvil..  That is a big no, no in my shop.. Hot items are left on forge or in a vise but never just layed on the anvil and left there.. 

I had to have the whole safety convo and then he said  " Ah, I always wondered why you never left anything hot"..     Few weeks later he did it again and got bit and he never did it again. 

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Teaching college students I have them put the drops from working on the project under the forge stand where they can't be stepped on and I can keep an eye on them to make sure nobody tries to pick one up manually.

My great Grandfather was a smith in a small Ozark hill town. He had a special method of checking metal out---he chewed tobacco and so spit on everything first!

Coming into smithing from knifemaking; I hardly ever quench stuff, save when heat treating.  So a "desert normalization" is typical. Throw hot pieces onto the sand/dirt floor of the shop in an area where they will not be bothered until cool.

The other "traditional" blacksmith joke was when a smith told a new striker to pick up the sledge as the smith was going to take the workpiece out of the forge and "when I nod my head---hit it!"   Often told as part of a "wee Jack" story of "How wee Jack went from apprentice to Master Smith after one day's work in the smithy!"

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