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I Forge Iron

where do get borax?

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Borax is a laundry additive. DO NOT use Boraxo as it is all together different.

Borax can be found in the laundry section of stores, and some older hardwear stores.

Flux is not needed to make a forge weld, but many things can be used as a flux, borax being a common flux. EZ Weld, and other welding fluxes can be obtained from your welding supplier, or stores that cater to blacksmiths and farriers. I have heard of sand, mud dabbers nests, and many other things being used as a flux.

Try them all, but what ever you decide on as a flux, it will not improve bad technique. Practice is what makes a good forge weld, not the flux.

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Glenn mentioned sand. Go for "sharp sand" or "washed sand" as we call it here. It's used for concreting. "Fatty sand" is used for bricklaying and has a certain amount of clay and stuff mixed in with it hence it's orange colour. I have never bothered with it as my mentors always use sharp sand. Suck it and see and let us know how it goes. Please don't report back saying it's a bit gritty in the mouth :D

As for borax if you can't find it in the shops ask Grandma, she might have a box of it somewhere :wink:

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Borax cannot be had in the shops over here any more.

If you are really stuck it can be obtained from chemical reagent suppliers.

Ask for Anhydrous Disodium Tetraborate.

Quite expensive compared to the laundry stuff, but I don't do that much forge welding anyway, and it comes in a nice air-tight plastic container, which stops it going lumpy in my damp shop.


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if you feel you need a flux silica sand ,is proberly as simple to use just throw a light dusting on the fire as your job comes towards a full heat,a bottle broken up into dust is cleaner but you will have to place it over the job to make shure it melts,and is the one we use on big jobs if the steel in one fire comes to a heat before the other piece in another fire is ready, somthing we try to avoid,
this is the only time i might use a flux, i work wrought iron up from old chain and it all has to be welded up under the hammers without flux
i have put a small piece of wrought iron between steel if its a bit of carbon in it and its welded up well

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hhmm ok.. so it's not an absolute need to have borax/other.. i was commisioned by my father to make someone a chain.. and i'v never forgewelded in my life.. sooo.. lets hope it works.. i've got several months to work with it.. so any advice would be helpful.. i'm burning charcoal, which isn't the best for forge welding anyway..
thanks for the help..
and anything else you want to call me.

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Hope no one minds my two cents here....

On the borax/flux thing..what materials are you welding in this chain?/ If it is plain old "iron/mild steel" borax will be fine...You can get anhydrous borax for like $1.00 a pound at most pottery suppliers. At least that is what it costs me here in the Las Vegas Valley. Same for fluorspar and a few other handy "blacksmithing chemicals".

Now if you are welding alloys that have Mo, V, W, Co and especially Ni and Cr you will need a flux that is a bit more agressive than plain borax. But I would say that for 95% of the work you will be doing, borax will be more than adequate.

Ok..I have to take exception with your statement about the charcoal. There is nothing "wrong" with using charcoal for a fuel, in fact it was the "original metalworker's fuel" for thousands of years. You can melt steel in a charcoal fire, with the right blast.

One word of advise: DO NOT USE BRIQUETTES..They are Henry Ford's revenge if you ask me. REAL charcoal (I use either the local mesquite or the hardwood lump available at resturaunt supplers...they usually have the best prices...shop around) burns HOT with the right blast and it burns CLEAN. works especially well for stainless steels. As for the blast you need a low pressure high volume blast. think of an open window and a gentle breeze vs a 1/4" pipe of compresses air...Same CFM different pressure. Charcoal burns differently than coal/coke plus it smells like you are having a cook out rather than 19th cent Pennsyvania steel mills. Believe me, you can weld in a charcoal fire quite easily.

Anyway , hope this helps..


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