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Newbie, Gasser, Forge Welding, Sweat, Frustration


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Greetings friends! I am new to this and working hard to try and acquire some basic skills. I try and go out to the garage and do something every day, but this last week has been an exercise is frustration.  Let me cut to the chase: I am trying to make forge welded chain links and i just can't seem to get the weld to stick.  Relevant info:

Hell's forge 2 burner Propane forge

3/8" Mild Steel  "Weld Steel" from Lowe's

Iron mountain flux

Heating to bright yellow w/white edging

process: shape the link, scarf, heat again, flux, heat to bright yellow, fast light taps, flux, heat to bright yellow, taps refine weld, heat to bright yellow, further refine, go to flatten out the link a bit, watch "forge weld" come apart, feel bile rising up inside, stifle cursing, repeat until i go look online for help (what i found on here seems to match what i'm doing).  Am i missing something? I feel like i am close to burning the metal, it is getting that rough texture that wont wire brush off.  Please give me something else to try.  

for the record i usually make a hook or some small project i find online that does not involve welding before i try a new link so that i get some work in other areas, but man i just want to get this. 

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For mild steel, heat to orange and wire brush by hand. Put it back into the fire and heat to high yellow or white, and watch for it to throw the first spark or two. Touch the two pieces together while they are in the fire, and if they stick to each other, it is at welding temperature and you have a weld.

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Clean, clean, clean. Like Glenn said, "Watch for the first spark or two.". I also put a piece of test stock in the fire with the pieces I want to weld to use to touch against the stock to see if it will stick.  At welding heat the surface will almost look wet.  It took me many tries but once you get it it's like a light going on in your head. That's not to say I still don't have problems with welding but once it makes sense it kinda all falls into place.  Good luck and remember it's supposed to be fun.

Pnut

Edited by pnut
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Another day. another failure. I really don't know what to do here.  I turned the forge all the way up, let the link soak in that heat for a LONG time.  Never saw sparks but i watch the flux boil off, the surface seem to move a bit.  Take it out, less than a step to the anvil and when i tap them it is like the just slide off each other, no stickiness at all. i have included a pic of the piece of metal because. . . i don't know. . .because. Maybe this forge just can't quite do it.  Note pic is after a very vigorous wire brushing. . .

20190913_164954.jpg

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You may want to look at another reference How to make a perfect forge weld, every time.

A full moon on Friday the 13th is an extremely rare occurrence, according to the Farmers' Almanac. It reports that this will be the first full moon visible across the U.S. on Friday the 13th since Oct. 13, 2000. The next one isn't expected to happen again for another 30 years—on Aug. 13, 2049.  You may want to try your luck today.  September Equinox 2019 will be at 3:50 AM on Monday, September 23, 2019.

Would not want to miss an opportunity when the "stars" align. :)

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  • 2 weeks later...

Forge welding chain is a challenge. If the metal from Lowes is cad or zinc plated, the plating must be ground off. The correct scarf for chain is the entire bottom arc is scarfed. The two ends must lie on top of each other, not side by side. Bring the link to bright red where the flux will immediately melt. raise the temperature until the link color matches the inside of the forge. Have the anvil directly in front of the forge.Bring the link out and using a 1# hammer quickly tap-tap-tap the overlapping metal together. reflux, reheat and with a heavier hammer finish forging the two ends together. Repeat the weld one more time to make sure everything is welded. Don't make the welded metal thinner than the 3/8" stock. forge over the horn to make the weld round to match the stock diameter..

Forge two links and hook them together with the third forged link. Then you take 3 and 3 links and forge them together with the 7 th link. continue this process until the chain is in two pieces. Then forge the final kink to connect the chain together. I don't think a propane forge lends its self to making chain. A coal forge will heat only the weld area link not length of chain when you are forging 7 links, then 15 links and so forth. The propane forge will have to take all the links up to welding heat that are inserted in the forge..

I suggest that you go to your raw metal dealer and buy hot role stee. I bought  20' of 1/2" sq. steel this week for $10.00, 3/8" would be less$$.  I go to Marion Iron in Marion Iowa for all my steel. At no charge, they will saw it into pieces so they will fit in my truck, usually 7'-7'-6' = 20' Let me know if this helps you make chain.

suggestion: You propane bottle will freeze up in a little over an hour. To extend the time to freeze up, place the propane bottle in a tub of water. Better, go to your propane dealer and have them make you a manifold to connect 2 bottles together. It will take a lot longer for the two bottles to freeze but they will freeze when the propane level gets below the 1/4 mark.

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hdvoyager319 Thank you for the step by step. I actually printed this out (and those other people sent me that were all similar) and created a quick reference checklist to keep me on track, and patient. 

swededfiddle the forge is off in that pic. just residual heat making it glow a little, but thank you for looking out!

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If you are new to blacksmithing, as you say, maybe develop some other blacksmithing skills first. In my experience forge welding isn’t a  “basic” skill, it’s a “tricky” one.   I’ve been  been blacksmithing for about 18 months and forge welding can be very hard. I was making some chain links a couple of months ago and one or two pretty much looked like yours...  it’s fine, it’s learning but you will get less frustrated and more confident developing other skills first. As you do other things you’ll learn about gauging temperature, about what you can get away with and what you can’t. All useful stuff when you do get around to forge welding down the line

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  • 3 weeks later...

An update. I appreciate everyone's advice.  After more trial and error i have managed to do several successful if not beautiful forge welds.  Part of my issue was that i believe for my forge to get hot enough the flame becomes very oxidizing.  I  have found using a lot of plain borax to really coat the piece has helped a lot.  That and the procedures above have helped me make a few wrapped eye trade axes.  Thanks everyone

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Be observant, the borax may eat the insulation when it drips off the weld area. I haven't tried this yet, Clay Kitty Litter spread over the bottom of the forge will absorb the Borax or any other Flus. I am guessing that the clay won't melt at welding temperature.

 

                                                                   Any one else tried Clay type Kitty Litter to absorb flux drippings? If so, how did it work?

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On some recent episode of the Forgecast one of them mentioned a technique to test for forge welding heat. They forge a piece of mild steel down to a very fine point and use it to poke the piece in the forge. If it sticks, the work is ready for welding!

The way it works, is that fine point gets to welding temp right quick in a hurry and welds itself to your work-piece. So if you poke it and have to sort of wiggle it off you're ready to go.

Haven't had a chance to try it myself, but the guys on the podcast seemed to have success with it.

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This technique works well, but keep in mind that this truly only tells you the surface at that spot is up to welding temperature. You may need to give it a little more time to get the heat even.

David

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