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I Forge Iron

A question on steel

Nick Brodsky 2

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Hi all 

Im getting to my 100th knife now and want to expand my skill set a bit so i was looking for some wrought iron to make more interesting San Mai with and found these at a local antique store image.jpeg.14987bc257748b06c821634420f01f49.jpeg 

I had heard that wagon wheels were sometimes wrought so I thought it would be worth it to put up a picture and get some opinions. I also found some old saw blades that I was hoping might be high carbon so I thought I would post a picture of one of those to.image.jpeg.9af6aa9335b25e06c144350f0c5e57d7.jpeg

it's about 36in in diameter and they want 57 bucks for it.

what's the chance its actually good steel and if it were to be good steel is it worth the money?



Thanks for any responses 



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In my area wagon tyres are real wrought iron over 90% of the time; Old sawmill type blades are generally HC all the way across, (ones with replaceable or carbide teeth may not be.

As for the price is that australlian dollars or canadian dollars or hong kong dollars or ?  Seems high to me in my location; might as well buy known good stock!

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Just for clarification purposes, I'm guessing they want $57 for both the wheels and the saw blade?

I'm going to add the qualifier here that I am just guessing at what those items might be made of. I'll start with the saw blade because that's a little easier. That is more than likely going to be a high carbon steel. How high is going to be hard to determine without spark testing to get you in the ballpark. At the very least it will probably be hardenable. 

The wagon wheels are tougher to make assumptions about as to be WI they have to have been made before ~1880 and there were a lot of functional steel wheels as well as reproductions (for decorative purposes) made after then and after some time sitting out in the elements it can be hard to tell one from the other (again, without spark testing). The prevalence of one type vs another is going to be dependent on your location. I'm not informed enough to weigh in one way or another on what they will probably be in your case. I just know I have yet to find one that's WI. I will say that sometimes with WI that is heavily corroded from living outside as many of these wheels do for many years, you can see a distinct grain to the rust and that might be an indication that it could be wrought, but it's no guarantee.

Regardless, for $57 it may be worth just picking them up. Some people would be willing to pay a little extra to buy a knife made out of san mai "antique" materials, WI or no. Others really don't care what it's made of. So is it worth the money? That's ultimately up to you, but don't buy the wheel thinking it's going to be wrought, because depending on where you are and when it was made etc. etc. it very well might not be.

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Mild steel.     

Out this way they were still using wrought iron for tyres into the 1900's  The great depression was often the cut over to mild steel as it was cheaper to make---except that a lot of old tyres were re-used!   

It generally wasn't a hard cut over; the Bessemer/Kelly process came in around the mid 1850's  but they are still discussing how to work it as compared to wrought iron in "Practical Blacksmithing" in 1889, 1890, 1891! The last factory producing real wrought iron from the puddling process went out of busines in the 1970's IIRC and donated the old factory to Blists Hill ironworks at the Ironbridge Gorge Museum museum in the UK.  The Real Wrought Iron Company is recycling wrought iron and selling it.

I have a buggy tyre that turned out to be mild steel; It's small size makes it nice for bottle openers.

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