Forge welding PLEASE HELP

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Aug 5, 2004
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Okay before I ask the questions. I will say that I have been doing lots of searching, reading and attempting before i even decided to post this thread . :( . I have been practicing to faggot weld on a simple peice of 5/16 mild steel rod. I have followed the anvilfire Iforge demo to a T, and have had no succsess with making this darn brainless peice steel stick :mad:. I clean, flux heat "to a melted butter look" then tap mildly with a 16 oz ball peen. I was told that my fire is too Oxidizing.
1. How do I tell?
2. How do I fix this?
3. Am I going about this the right way?
Please help this newbie...................................................... :(
 
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Are you using a coal or propane forge? If you are using a propane fired forge, as long as you are getting a blue flame that turns up at the end (when held horizontal) and maybe a little bit of yellow tips (running rich) you should be good to go. If it is running lean block off some air to richen it up or increase your oriface size to add more gas.

If you are using coal, I can't help you there.

I would get a heavier hammer also. I use a 2.5 pound cross peen to set my welds. Of course I use the flat face and not the peen. You want your blows to be medium and actually dwell on the steel when the hammer makes contact. You want to avoid rapidly tapping the billet. You want to generate and transfer pressure from the momentum of the hammer into the billet. Pressure not impact will help the initial weld.

Lastly, get some high carbon steel and try that. Any of the 10XX like 1075, 1084, or 1095 will work. Mild steel in my experience is much harder to forge weld than high carbon steel. It takes a much higher heat to get mild to weld.

I made some candle sticks one year for my parents X-Mas present out of three pieces of 1/2 inch round bar twisted together. It was a big pain to get the welds to set. If I remember correctly it was at about a white heat before they would weld.

High carbon should weld at the light orange to lemon yellow or around 1900 to 2100 °F. The first thing i ever welded was 167 layers of 0.003 shim stock. Worked like a charm. ;)

Hope that helps.
 
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I use a gas to answer the first question. So What I need to do is to take out the burnner and have it horizontal to see if its neutral. Does the flame change when its in the forge? When I pull the steel out of the fire and its up to welding heat "melted butter look"the metal has alot of slag that I have to clean off before I flux; Is this normal?
 
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Here is my sequence:

1) Wire tie billet together.
2) Place billet into pre heated forge.
3) Once you start to see the billet show color, remove the billet and flux it.
4) Put the billet back into the forge.
5) Bring up to near welding heat and reflux and put back into forge.
6) Bring up to welding heat, remove from forge, place on anvil, and set the weld.
7) Repeat while working your way down the billet.

You should not have to clean scale off before fluxing. The flux is there to prevent scale from forming so you want to get it onto the billet before the billet gets hot enough to form the scale.

What are you using for flux?

What kind of forge are you using?
 
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Thanks for the reply lardeo7mm Im really thankful. The type of forge is a home-made gas forge I have posted some pics of it on the forum not to long ago.But by reading your post I see where I goofed up and Ill try fore welding again tomorrow, And ill let you know how it goes. thanks again.:D:D:D
 
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:mad: :mad: I tried again today and still no results. I cannot undestand what im doing wrong. I Heat till it shows color, clean with wire brush then flux, reheat to welding temp then quickly but lightly tap with 2.5# hammer; Redo process until weld is fully done. Welllllllllllllll the problem is that if and when the weld sticks and I bring it back to welding temp to finish; it pops back open. This is so aggravating :mad: to top it off I burnt the snot out of my finger :eek: . Please help.. If someone sees something wrong with my process of doing this please ponit it out.

Thanks, Pj
 
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PJ, I went through the same thing. I just about gave up on welding. Everyone here talked me through it and when I figured it out, it was like riding a bicycle.

My problem was that I was hitting it too hard with too big a hammer. If you are tapping, I don't understand how it could POP open. You may not be hitting hard enough.

I would go to a slightly heavier hammer and tap with that. See if that makes a difference.

One other thing to try is using Borax cold. Instead of cleaning, heating and fluxing. Try cleaning, sprinkling the flux on the surface and then taking it to your welding heat. This may work better for you. I don't understand why you are getting any crap on it after your flux has been melted.

Stick with it.
 
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Hmmmm, what are you trying to make or are you just practicing?

I wouldn't say you need to lightly hit the piece to weld. It is a medium blow. More than just letting gravity pull the hammer onto the billet but not forcing it either.

Yes you want to quickly get the piece to the anvil and the hammer to the piece, but you do not want to hammer quickly. About maybe two hammer strikes per three seconds. Hit and dwell, hit and dwell. When you dwell you want to be applying pressure with the hammer. You should be able to feel the weld taking a set.

The other thing that I have found with forge welding is that setting the welds is one thing and getting a strong weld is another. IMHO setting the weld is like tack welding. It holds it there waitng for the full weld to be applied. The ONLY time I get good strong welds is after I work the billet for a while (of course all at welding heat).

For example, my typical initial billet is 17 layers of C1095 and 15N20 which is about 1 x 1 x 12. Once I get the initial welding pass done, the billet is still 1 x 1 x 12. If I were to take that billet and hammer it parallel to the layers, it would most likely fall apart.

Now take that same "tack welded" billet and forge it down to 3/4 or 1/2 inch thick, by hammering perpendicular to the layers, and you could drive a bull dozer over it and there will be no delaminations.

I think working a billet definitely strengthens the weld.

What do you mean by "to finish"?

Anybody else have any thoughts, i may be way off and living in Sean's world again. I am by no means an authority.
 
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Laredo7mm said:
Hmmmm, what are you trying to make or are you just practicing?

I wouldn't say you need to lightly hit the piece to weld. It is a medium blow. More than just letting gravity pull the hammer onto the billet but not forcing it either.

Yes you want to quickly get the piece to the anvil and the hammer to the piece, but you do not want to hammer quickly. About maybe two hammer strikes per three seconds. Hit and dwell, hit and dwell. When you dwell you want to be applying pressure with the hammer. You should be able to feel the weld taking a set.

Yes sir..... Im just practicing to faggot weld on a peice of 1/2"dia. cold rolled steel " what type i dont know". Before I even start the welding I place of hot steel on the anvil so it wont be such a heat sink. Then after I have cleaned and fluxed the steel I begin to hammer exactly how you've explained that is to hit it 2 or 3 times then let the weight of the hammer set on it for a second or two. After this I repeat after heating it to a welding heat. The reason Im practicing is so once I do start to attempt welding good steel I wont be wasteful. Am I going about this the wrong way? :confused:
Thanks, PJ
 
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peter nap said:
PJ, I went through the same thing. I just about gave up on welding. Everyone here talked me through it and when I figured it out, it was like riding a bicycle.

My problem was that I was hitting it too hard with too big a hammer. If you are tapping, I don't understand how it could POP open. You may not be hitting hard enough.

I would go to a slightly heavier hammer and tap with that. See if that makes a difference.

One other thing to try is using Borax cold. Instead of cleaning, heating and fluxing. Try cleaning, sprinkling the flux on the surface and then taking it to your welding heat. This may work better for you. I don't understand why you are getting any crap on it after your flux has been melted.

Stick with it.
Thanks for the advice. Ill try that tommorow. I alomst gave up today "being after a peice of hot scale hit the flesh :eek: :eek: I have never seen a puff smoke rise from my skin before :eek: ". If this is like riding a bike I hope I still remember how to do that :D .
 
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sounds like you need to hit it harder. I hit mine pretty hard to set the welds. You have to hit it hard enough to squirt the hot flux from between the layers. Mine always comes with a loud pop about like a .22
 

fitzo

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Mild steel is a lot harder to weld than high carbon steel. Lower carbon cable is notorious for welding an then coming back apart, for example.

As for your forge environment, adjust the fuel/air mix so you are getting an orange flame coming out of it. This will insure you have a reducing atmosphere inside.

In all honesty, I'd shuck that steel and practice with some 1084 or something. It's cheap enough to blow some getting the technique down. Sean's given you good advice.

That's my $.02
 
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PJ, if you need some high carbon, shoot me an email with your mailing address an I can send you some to play with. I have a bunch in dimensions that I will probably never use, so it is no skin off of my teeth... ;)
 
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Upon furhter reflection;

OK, give me some details of your burner that you made, like pipe diameter and oriface size. From what I remember, I have a 1.5 to 3/4 reducer going into a 3/4 pipe (8 inches long) with a number 59 hole for an oriface. I gave up a long time ago on the burner flare do-hickey. But I do not think your problems are with generating a reducing atmosphere. You should be O.K. on that point as long as your forge has a good roar to it.

Pre-heating the anvil is a good practice, but it is not going to be detrimental to your forge welding especially if you are down in TX. Up hear in Michigan, with my forge in the basement, I never pre-heat my anvil until my basement temp hits below 45 °F.

Hit the steel the same each time you strike it. There is not a hit 2 to 3 times and then dwell, it is all in sieries. Hit, dwell, hit, dwell, etc. But it is also not easily explained. You will get the feel for it, trust me. Don't rap at it, just hit it, but not too hard, and once yu make contact with the billet, apply pressure with the hammer face for a fraction of a second.

Like Peter said, it is like riding a bike. Once you feel it, you will know. Keep trying and it will work. Low to mild carbon is a Bit$%. Take me up on my offer to send you some high carbon to practice with and you wil be a pro before you know it.

I have only been doing this "thing" for a few years, but you will eventually get to know when the billet is ready for welding. After a while doing it, it will tell you when it is ready. It becomes more of a feeling than anything else. Now don't get me wrong though, it isn't easy.

I still get frustrated when I try to set my initial weld on the billet and I get a split down the center, or even worse, when you think you have developed the greatest pattern ever and you go to grind it and find a cold shut and the whole thing is junk.

Just make sure you only show pictures of the good stuff... ;)
 
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The type of forge that I have is a 8"x18" pipe lined with 1" insulwool, firebrick bottom and coted with satinite and itc100. the burner itself is a 1"x12" nipple, coupling and a plug " I donot remember the orfice size I will get that to you when I get off work" . attached is a picture of the burner and excuse the messy shop its not mine :D. the burner is that of a mini mongo type. From this description does this sound like I have a problem in this department?
Picture005.jpg
Picture006.jpg

Thanks for all the help you guys are the sh#$ :D :D :D
 

fitzo

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It's not the color of the burner flame that indicates the environment in your forge, it's the color of the flame exiting the forge. Flames should be forming orange outside the forge 3-4". This indicates an excess of fuel, propane burning outside the forge because there's not enough oxygen inside. That gives you a reducing atmosphere.

That tongue of orange flame and the roar Sean mentioned is what gives these forges the "dragon" name.
 
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fitzo said:
It's not the color of the burner flame that indicates the environment in your forge, it's the color of the flame exiting the forge. Flames should be forming orange outside the forge 3-4". This indicates an excess of fuel, propane burning outside the forge because there's not enough oxygen inside. That gives you a reducing atmosphere.

That tongue of orange flame and the roar Sean mentioned is what gives these forges the "dragon" name.

The flames that exit the forge are yellow and orange mixed. Is this bad??? the forge itself is loud when your around it " it sounds like small jet". would you like me to take a picture of the exiting flames?
Thanks fitzo for the reply

PJ :D
 

fitzo

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YW. No need for a foto, PJ. Sounds like that part's correct.

To be honest, if the flux is bubbling like mad and it's way hot in a reducing atmosphere, good steel should weld. True, it may have inclusions and such from technique, but it should stick some.

I'd really shed that "mystery steel" and try something known. The term "mild steel" can be applied to so much crap nowadays that unless it has a designation you can be sure of, you might have chromed car bumper, beer can, and Lord knows what else in what is generically called mild steel today. If there's a lot of nickel in the steel it will give you fits trying to weld it.

Get some decent steel. A lot of makers will clean the pieces before proceeding. Make your "stack". Heat to red. Flux. Heat to yellow, flux bubbling vigorously, re-flux. Heat to yellow, flux bubbles vigorously. Hammer with "medium blows", first down the center of the stack to blow the flux out, then along the outsides. Don't beat the crap out of it, as this will cause the pieces to slip along each other and the welds won't set. I personally never draw on a welding heat; I weld twice, then stretch. Others do it different.

Once it works for you, you'll notice that getting steel to weld isn't rocket science. Getting it done without inclusions takes a bit more practice. ;)
 

fitzo

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I just thought of another trick you might try, courtesy of Wayne Goddard. He describes a technique wherein he straightens a section of coathanger and bends a little 1/2" 90 on the end. When the flux is bubbling good, he keeps touching that bent end to the steel. When it starts to stick a little he then removes it from the forge and hammers.
 
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i had probs when i first started welding with a forge myself i solved the problem by learning what it should look like under a slightly carburizing oxy acetylene flame and welding around ten layers of half inch bandsaw stock and using cigweld no.2 silverbrazing flux and i discovered that it would weld equally well on a cold anvil as if you heated it first. i wired the bandsaw stock together using thin soft iron tie wire and started by applying wet cold flux prior to starting as this allows it to penetrate a little better when it starts to heat. this flux is mostly borax with a little flouorspar and is in a liquid base and can be emulated at home quite simply by getting a large clean plastic container with a lid and adding two packets of borax to about 3 tablespoons of flourspar and mixing with enough demineralised water to form a thick paste or slurry. it also works when welding hi carbon to nickel/stainless or varying grades of stainless. like the others have said though get rid of the mild steel and at least try something with a known composition. old circ saw plates cut with a guillotine work great and are often L70, 1084 or something similar always give them a light surface grind first though as they are often contaminated with wax aluminium or wood gum. also solid chainsaw bars are good to practise on aslong as they are not the 3 piece bars and are cleaned and degreased first. i recommend that the correct heat to use for a begginner is when the steel just starts to give off small sparks in the flame. however this is bordering on almost too hot, and if achieved too quickly will only be frying on the outside of the bar, causing "shadow" and thus causing welds not to hold as the center of the bar draws the heat away from the welded sections increasing the stress on the weld area and when reheated wil simply "pop" open again as you have noticed.always try to get it hot and hold it at that temp for at least 20 secs on a thin piece i.e. quarter inch or less and for a piece of say half inch hold it at weld heat for around 40 secs. This should eliminate any chance for shadow. also as has been said hit firmly but not excessively and not too softly. expect to have molten flux hit you in the groin and thigh area (hence the leather welders apron) hope i have been of assistance Travis
 
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