I'm sure I can't help you with wrought iron, but I've heard that pure
iron is much more available in Europe than here in the US. Pure iron is
really nice to work with.
Tomas Wilhelmsson wrote:
They haven't made Wrought Iron in the U.S., since the early 1900's, my
nephew recently found an old horseshoe in the river the other day, for the
most part it's in great shape, I'm going to make a knife out of it for him.
Your best bet is to look at yard sales, estate sales, flea markets....etc.,
for old horse shoes, and scrap metal for this purpose. Sorry I wasn't more
help, good luck. Tom
Here is a place I found on the internet that claims to be the sole
producer of wrought iron at this time, while I haver not yet they seem
Metroplex Wood Care
Quality Fence Sealing & Restoration
On Tue, 27 Jul 2004 13:37:50 GMT, "TomNBanderaTx"
Puddled iron (the beginning step for wrought iron) was produced
commercially in Sheffield (that's in England, where the history comes
from) until the '70s, so I doubt if the US was much different. The
full-sized industrial hearth and rolling mill used for this production
is now in the Blists Hill museum, near Ironbridge, and I understand
they still work it occasionally and produce wrought iron by it.
The next step from this puddled iron is to roll it, shear it and
re-roll it back together. This re-distributes the slag filaments and
thins them out. Hence the old quality grades of "two shear" and "three
shear" wrought iron.
The largest commercial soure of wrought iron today is either old
bridge girders, or large ship's anchor chains. These can be retrieved
from harbour channels by dredging, and the recovered chains have good
scrap value for re-use as wrought iron. Chains (until very recently,
certainly post-war) were one of the last major uses for wrought iron,
as the failure modes are relatively benign and it was easy to hammer
Anyone living near a seaport should check local junkyards for anchor chain. A
friend of mine down in Massachusetts just got a 7' piece (138 lbs) for $26. He
said there was at least 2 tons of it available.
Bill H. [my "reply to" address is real]
Larry, you aren't getting useful answers. Here's one:
The way iron used to be refined from ore, it ended up with *lots* of
slag throughout, not a usable product yet. Wrought iron is made from
this by repeated hammering out, folding and hammer welding to itself,
like strudel dough. As this is done, the slag works its way out. No slag
is added intentionally, the purpose is to remove slag. After enough slag
is removed, the mass becomes usable iron (all that needs to be done is
shape it to bar stock or whatever). This process can be done several
times (e.g. triple refined wrought iron).
What you end up with is mostly iron with many very thin layers of slag.
This turns out to be good for corrosion resistance. Any rust going on
sooner or later meets a layer of slag and is stopped. If you find a
piece of wrought iron that is corroded, it will appear fibrous, sort of
wood like, due to the way the rust follows the iron but leaves the slag
covered parts. This is also why wrought iron has a grain in working it.
You can also see the grain by bending a piece until it fatigues.
The folks who until a couple of years ago were selling pure iron (i.e.
no slag, modern product) also said that pure iron is much better at
resisting rusting away than steel. They said that when steel rusts, it
expands a lot, which leaves room for moisture to work its way in. Pure
iron doesn't do this. The pieces I have certainly rust is a very
different fashion than ordinary mild steel.
I don't have experience forging wrought iron; a friend of mine tried
some and he found that you have to work it at a very high temperature,
otherwise it falls apart on you. I've worked with the pure iron a bit,
and it is really nice to hammer. Much easier to work and it takes
detail very well. Too bad the pure iron guys aren't selling (in the US)
Larry Hamilton wrote:
After my answer I looked it up in my new book. :)
ASM's Materials Engineering Dictionary...
"wrought iron. A commercial iron consisting of slag (iron silicate)
fibers entrained in a ferrite matrix."
Alvin in AZ (ASM's #1 newsgroup-parrot and newest member too;)
ps- short questions usually just get short answers ;)
Yes, but remember that Damascus isn't what you think it is.
Pattern welded steels use two metals, welded together in what is
hopefully an extremely well-bonded manner. Etch or polish this and you
get a smooth surface composed of two metals, of different colours or
reflectivities, but both metallic. Wrought iron or Damascus are both
mixtures of one metal alloy and a non-metallic inclusion. Etch these
and they develop a surface roughness. On a really fine scale, like
Damascus, then this is an attractive effect but for wrought iron it's
not really a surface you'd want in a hand tool.
For the record!
Wrought iron actually was manufactured into the late 30's here in
Pittsburgh by the A.M.Byers Co. The had taken this material to state of
the art by a unique mfg. process. They first refined molten iron to
near zero carbon in Bessemer converters. Then they actually added
molten slag to this product. This process allowed much finer control of
impurities as compared to the old puddling process. It also increased
output immensely. I have worked this stuff in the forge and it was like
heaven on earth. It welded, forged, and punched easily as compared to
the mild steels available today. Alas, advancements in steel production
made genuine wrought iron way to costly to produce. This doomed
ornamental blacksmiths to a LOT of extra work.
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