Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Any old Iron

Pure iron is starting to prove itself as an alternative to wrought iron and mild steel on restoration projects up and down the UK. TV DIYer Don said that "Iron is the most stable and one of the most plentiful elements in the universe. There is a perception within restoration circles that damaged wrought ironwork should be replaced like for like but new wrought iron is no longer made and pure iron offers a long lasting solution that is just as aesthetically pleasing and doesn't spilt, crack or break up like wrought iron." The lack of high quality wrought iron available to blacksmiths has led to many utilising a poorer quality product. Convention has played a part in its establishment but the lessons have not been learnt with increasing amounts of wrought ironwork requiring preservation or replacement.

Barbara a specialist web resource and professional blacksmith said that " working with pure iron is becoming increasingly popular as a sideline for many as it is easier to forge than existing metals and repousse work can be carried out cold. I have carried out a range of demanding comparisons in its performance to that of wrought iron and mild steel and it came out on top in many areas. all of the processes were executed with ease and no problems were encountered. With continuous hot bending the material showed no sign of cracking that would have occurred with mild steel had it been subjected to the same treatment."

Blacksmith Hector Cole said "for smiths who have tried forging wrought iron of poor quality and have encountered all its faults, pure iron will be a good substitute as its forging qualities are far superior to mild steel." Wrought Iron was was graded in four distinct quality and strength levels with the best performing grade A used for railway tracks for example. Grade D, the lowest grade, was introduced in 1959 specifically 'for fencing' and is often the source of the poor quality reclaimed material marketed to blacksmiths today. It is in the realm of ecclesiastical architecture that pure iron is increasingly proving its worth. one example is the gate installed recently at All Souls Church on the edge of Halifax town center in West Yorkshire.


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