MetalMuncher

Where do you stand on wet forging?

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Greetings! As the title suggests, where do you stand on wet forging? I mean, is it good, bad or what? I'm having issues with scale craters when finishing up my work. I do brush thoroughly, but always wind up with considerably deep dents. I have heard wet forging blasts off scale nicely(japanese style). Any comments, tips or advice? Thanks all!

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Hofi uses this method sometimes to remove scale from a forging. You can put a little water on the face of the anvil and when you hit the hot steel, it causes the steam vapor to help the scale release form the steel. You only do this towards the end of the forging process.

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Unfortunately, I'm still lining my shop up---setting up my forge and whatnot---so I can't really say one way or the other, but I think this is the route that I'm gonna go.

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Your description of the way the steel looks when you're done may indicate that you are working in an oxidizing fire. Changing where you place your steel in the fire (if you're using a coal, coke, or charcoal fire) or adjusting the propane/oxygen ratios if it's a propane forge may solve your problems.

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The smart elick in me would like to say that I stand on the cool end of the metal :D Though I haven't had many projects big enough to need me to stand on them anyway :D

But in reality this is the first time I've heard this term and look forward to hearing more...

Edited by ironrosefarms

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I seen this video of this smith guy. He put some water on a dent
on the anvil surface, and he took a flat bar from the forge.

He put the hot piece over the water and hit it with his hammer and
it when off like a gunshot! Made a small explosion.

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This is the first i've heard of it as well. Why would you risk water around explosively high heat when there are media blasters, wire wheels, expander wheels etc. etc. ad nasium for removing scale after the forging. Not to mention adjusting the mixture as noted above.

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This is the first i've heard of it as well. Why would you risk water around explosively high heat when there are media blasters, wire wheels, expander wheels etc. etc. ad nasium for removing scale after the forging. Not to mention adjusting the mixture as noted above.


Because when working on blades you want to be very sure that scale is removed DURING forging so the scale does not become embedded in the blade while it's soft. Embedded scale means more work polishing with all those items you mentioned.

Secondly, you're grossly overstating the risk of wet forging. I've done it before and the only additional precaution I felt necessary was safety glasses. And for those that wear them during regular forging they needn't do anything extra.

That said, I typically prefer to just watch the fire and make sure I'm working in a reducing state and/or knocking the scale off with a quick rap as needed.

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While its true that my fire is a little oxidizing, it does help though right? Its not even to remove scale, that is easy. The idea is to remove it WHILE you are forging so you dont wind up with dents. The swordsmiths of japan use this forging method alot. I also suspect it would help reduce the grain size, sort of like thermocycling. Thanks all!

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An oxidizing fire does not help, a REDUCING fire will inhibit scale creation. In fact if you run a reducing fire, you'll see a nice hot piece of metal with no scale UNTIL you remove it from the fire and it comes in contact with the outside air. But that is greatly preferable to oxidizing in the fire AND out. :)

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I have used the wet method - but I can't say it made a great deal of difference.
I have also used a course brush (butcher block) that I dip in the slack tub prior to use - that seemed to work a little better.

I think the best course of action is to brush the work well - before it goes back into the fire and just as it comes out. And work hard. Bold hammer strokes that change the shape of the steel will pop off the scale - lighter blows tend not to work as well for that.

Scale begets more scale - in my experience. Keep your work clean during the forging process - and yes, look to your fire it may indeed be heavily oxidizing.

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Thanks for that markb, Feukair really got into it, I like how he spends time developing hammer skills. Thanks Mark, my wire brush will have to do for now, but I'm gonna give the wet forging a go, and see what happens. God bless!

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Using water on hot steel has been a technique used for many years, not particularly when forging, but using when wire brushing to clean up after forging, and also water on the anvil, water on the flatter, and the finish is much improved

It is also a handy way to attract attention, water on the anvil, red hot metal and a hefty blow, water evaporates, generates hydrogen and 'mild' explosion results (thats what I've been told as another of the legendary blacksmiths myths fact or fiction.)

On the vid what happened to the anvil edge between 9.19. to 9.23 ?

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Interesting, but why use water when you can junst use a hand brush or even better a small wire wheel in a pneumatic right angle die grinder. When the steel is hot the mill scale comes of quite easily with any wire wheel or even hard wire scrub brush?

Perhaps I drag heels because putting water on my Gladiator anvil seems sacrelig lol

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I saw knifemaker Don Fogg forge a knife at a demo using water on his anvil. He had a bucket of water and a mop-type brush that he used to put the water on his anvil. It looked impressive and seemed to work on his knife blade. He explained that it was a technique used by Japanese sword makers he had studied with.

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I have used this method myself, and darnet it works incredibly well, and if you use a brush with the water, you'll literally no scale. I would love to use water as it is more natural. However, I am torn about using it for personal reasons...it doesn't matter for the topic, what matters it that it works. You apply the water to the top of the anvil with your hand, rag, brush, w/e...and i wet my hammer face to. It works best when the steel is at a yellow color, this can be followed by pops some quiet, some pretty darn loud.

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When the steel is hot the mill scale comes of quite easily with any wire wheel or even hard wire scrub brush?


True, but this is a "hands-free" method of keeping scale off the work WHILE you're forging. No stopping to reach for the brush or wire wheel. It's even faster than knocking it off by wrapping the piece on the anvil while working. Just prep the anvil and hammer with more water while you're waiting on your next heat.

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When your heating you may have your work to close to air tyre, causing exccessive oxidation. Try moving your work a little higher up from air feed.
This will held reduce scaling some what.
Just a thought in case it wasn't mentioned before.

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I've seen a few smiths use this method, and with great results. The only thing I seemed to notice is that the metal being forged only hit the water on the anvil at the same time the hammer made contact with the hot steel.
My guess is that you want to lift the metal after a blow to keep it from cooling and/or partial quenching on the wet anvil surface.
Once again I don't know this for sure, but that is how I saw it done. I hate to spread rumors without knowing for sure if there is any truth behind it.
If anyone knows for sure, please chime in and let me know. I'm curious now lol :rolleyes:

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I'm not actually sure I have time to comment on all of the issues that I would like to address. I guess thats what I get for jumping in so late.

First, the notion that somehow, "water evaporates, generates hydrogen and 'mild' explosion results" is impossible. Steam is still chemically water, and the process of separating the H from the O requires more than hitting steam with a hammer. (electrolysis is the most practical method, I suppose).

But enough about the science. There are almost certainly several things going on at once and I don't claim to understand it all perfectly. Lets just say that you can remove scale from the surface of iron/steel by "shocking" it. To do this you want to generate a large amount of steam as suddenly as possible and deliver a jarring blow. The steam is expanding, the steel is contracting and in that same moment its being whacked with a hammer. Very scientific:D.


But now lets look again at what it is we are trying do. "Make a beautiful piece of ironwork" right? I think we can all agree on that; whether its a kitchen knife or a garden gate. As many people have pointed out, before you even start talking about water-hammering, you better have your fire running right AND be focused on forging quickly and efficiently. If you leave the iron soaking in the fire, or take a dozen heats to draw one tapper, there is no amount of water-hammering that can save you. For almost all general forging purposes a good stiff-wire-brush is faster, more convenient and it wont cool down your work, besides.

Japanese bladesmiths use "水打ち" mizu-uchi (water-hammering) with success for several reasons. Here are just a few.

The shape of the material is very uniform. Blades and billets can easily be set on top of the wet anvil and struck suddenly without fear of ruining the piece. Not so easy with a leaf that has a nice cross-pein texture on it or even a runner for a railing that will need to be perfectly straight at the end of the day.

Also, they mostly use this technique when preping for a forge weld, or if the blade is "黒打ち" Kuro-uchi (black-hammered) meaning that it will not be polished all the way to the spine. This makes it very important that there be no thick scale on the sides, as the hammer texture will be part of the blades final appearance.


I should also ad that I am very skeptical about the idea that water-hammering has any metallurgical benefits of its own.


It should typically be done at a bright-orange heat. If you do it too hot it will start to scale again right after you hit it, but with tough scale, you might have to start at a yellow heat and keep going until it cools below oxidation. Typically the hammer, rather than any kind of mop or swab is used to put the water on the surface of the anvil in Japan. This way the hammer is wet as well.
As suggested by someone previously, you dont want to set the piece on the anvil and leave it there. You want to pick it up between blows so that it wont evaporate all the water before you hit it and also so the piece wont cool down (this is a good idea any time you are working super thin stalk as well).

Sword-smiths, when doing the "鍛錬" Tanren (working tamahagane into a billet by folding and fire-welding repeatedly) will set the billet over the wet anvil but with one side angled up. That is, not letting the billets face touch the anvil, only the right or left edge. Then the striker brings a seldge down on it and drives the billet down into the puddle.

Personally, I use water-hammering to prep for forge welds on blades and billets, and thats about it. It can be a useful trick, and sure its great for everyone to find creative and novel applications of it, just so long as we dont lose track of the goal: "Making a beautiful piece of ironwork" and most of use can add "as efficiently as possible".

There's my however-many-cents-that-was.

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Fast, effective, wirebrush4tehwin

you can wire brush on your way to the anvil then forge normally. I think using water on the anvil is counter-productive as far as time goes. Putting water on an anvil and putting your hot steel onto the anvil is going to cool it rather fast, especially on a thin blade.

Or you could just get one of them grizzly belt grinders for knife making and leave as much scale as you like.

10576.attach

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