A beginner blacksmith needs to have a detailed understanding of the forge welding process. This very old process is a crucial one obtained by blacksmiths all over the world because of its versatility. Moreover, this method can be used on a very wide range of metals and involves a process that is fairly simple to learn.
Forge welding is a type of diffusion welding that heats up metals to a high temperature and attaches them together.
Please read through our very detailed and thoroughly put together guideline that has been designed especially for newbies. Hopefully, you will have learned the basics of this process when you are done reading.
Forge Welding 101- a Complete Guideline for Newbies
Though it seems like a tricky process at first and takes some time to learn, you will become a master after learning forge welding and practicing it for some time. Continue reading to explore the detailed guide that we have put together just for newbies like you.
What Is Forge Welding?
Very simply put, it is the process of heating up individual pieces of metals to a certain temperature and then diffusing them together. Following the right technique, maintaining the ideal temperature, and applying the ideal pressure are some crucial matters that you should keep in mind.
There are some materials that will be very necessary in order to carry out the process perfectly. Make sure you have them with you whenever you are welding.
A sensitive task such as this that requires facing high temperature needs a separate work station. Forge stations often have several elements or features in common.
There is always a fire source powered by coal, gas, oil, etc., that can reach thousands of degrees depending on your work. You will also need an air supplier, preferably electricity or motor powered. The gas that will be emitted by your work should be collected via a chimney or an exhaust fan.
A blacksmith’s most important tool is his hammer. Hammers come in different shapes, sizes, and designs depending on the things they can do. Some of the hammers you will need the most are sledgehammers, forging hammers, ball pein hammers, etc.
Anvil is the tool that provides support for the metal during the whole process. It has a very hardened top and is used widely for giving the forged iron desired shape or bend them to the desired angle.
Tong is what you will use to handle and pick up the very hot metal pieces. Whenever you beat the metal or give it the shape you desire, you will hold it with a tong as the metal will be very hot.
Various types of tongs exist, and they all serve different purposes during different stages of the welding process. Some common ones that you will likely have to use include pick up tongs, square bit tongs, flat bit tongs, round bit tongs, etc.
A welding vise is also an important tool for bending and forging. For your work, choose blacksmith vise as that will serve the purpose better. This is set mostly on your workbench.
Flux comes in powder form and is sprinkled all over the heated pieces of metal to prevent oxidizing. For the best results, you need to carefully follow the steps of brazing. Borax is the widest and most popular used flux. We have also reviewed the best flux core wires. You can check that after this.
Let us take a look at the detailed process of forge welding so that you can carry out your welding successfully.
Before starting, you will need to prepare your materials. Your anvil will need to be heated. If your anvil is not hot, it will draw temperature from your heated workpiece when you lay it on top of the anvil.
This will greatly hamper your work, and the piece may even not be able to be rescued afterward. To heat up your anvil, heat up a piece of steel that you are not working on and keep it on top of the anvil for as long as necessary.
Prepare yourself mentally by knowing the necessary temperature that you will have to reach in order for your piece to melt. Remember that each type of material has a different heating point and procedure to achieve that point.
Welding and Fluxing
After heating up the materials, now it is time to have fun with the welding process. Make sure to achieve that beautiful orange hue before you remove the metal from the heat source. After you have done that, you will have to apply flux.
Flux will create a defense against the oxygen in the air. A very cost-friendly and professionally recommended option is Borax. Many professionals do not use flux, but we strongly recommend that you do as a new beginner.
After you have applied the flux, you need to put your metal back in the fire again. Watch out for a golden yellow hue. But beware! Do not look into the fire without using protective eye-gear as that will greatly harm your eyes.
Again, applying too much heat will lead the metal to get oxidized, and you will have to start anew, abandoning your metal piece.
Removing Metals from Heat
After the pieces of metals have received enough heat for enough time, remove them, and bind them together using metal wires.
Joining the Pieces and Hammer Away
The next step is to hammer the metal pieces. Although it sounds simple and effortless, it is not. You have to apply the right pressure and go at the right speed. Pressure applied greatly depends on the density of the metal piece. But be careful as hitting too fast or too hard would damage your metal.
On the other hand, hitting too slow may lead the metal pieces to cool down before you are done working on them. Your main goal is to join the pieces of the metals together. Always hammer, keeping that in mind.
At this stage, experience greatly determines the performance and the final outcome. Experienced blacksmiths know very well the pressure and speed required for the unique metal pieces. But do not get discouraged as if you keep practicing, you will eventually become an expert with enough experience.
That was our explanation of the steps you need to follow in order to forge weld successfully. Let us also take a look at some of the matters you have to keep in mind to do forge welding successfully and safely.
Knowing when to heat or when to stop heating will also be a handy skill. If you see a yellow color forming and you pump up the temperature after this, your metal will oxidize no matter what you do.
And if your metal piece does get oxidized, there is absolutely no way to undo it or fix it, and you will have to start anew with fresh pieces of metal. This not only wastes time but also will increase your expenditure in terms of material.
Be Aware of the Melting Point
Depending on the amount, density, and shape of the piece you’re heating, the melting point will also vary. Furthermore, some work will require gradual heating while some will not. Keep in mind the differences and follow through with them.
When you are working in a condition that requires handling very hot materials and exposing yourself to potentially dangerous situations, it is important to take protective measures. We cannot suggest strongly enough that you wear protective gear.
While you put the metals back in the heat for the second time, do not look at them with the naked eye. Doing so is extremely dangerous. We suggest you use didymium glasses for this part.
The flux comes in a powder form, and you have to sprinkle it over the very hot metal. This means that not all the flux powder you will sprinkle will melt into the metal. Some residue in the form of dust may linger around.
Keep your eyes, nose, and mouth protected so that you may not end up inhaling the dust or getting that into your eye.
Keep Children Away
Last but not least, keep children away from your workstation. Or better yet, keep anyone who has no idea about the processes and precautions regarding welding away from your workstation and your tools.
After reading our step by step guideline and learning about the necessary precautions, we hope you have learned enough about forge welding. Now go out there and start your forge welding. With practice and time, you will surely become an expert forger in no time. You can also learn about orbital welding if you are a beginner.