Ironworking FAQs

Clenching of nails

Sooner or later, in the quest for good results, the question of clench nails comes up. It is completely traditional, it is a really good job mechanically, and often looks so much better than screw or bolt fixes, but how best to achieve it?
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The protection of ironwork from rusting.

Consequent to an unfortunate incident with a bunsen burner I did not study chemistry at school.    Although, with hindsight, this was probably no more than an innocent expression of my enduring interest in fire,  I must therefore leave any in depth analysis of the rusting process to those who know what they’re talking about.

Clear enough, though, is the basic fact that the result of exposing bare steel or iron to the atmosphere in which we live is that it rusts.

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Wrought iron versus mild steel, etc.

This is a huge and complex subject and there is the internet out there with all its’ endless  in depth  information (and misinformation), so I will not attempt to get technical.

In the context of our sort of work mild steel is the most readily available and economical of the alternatives. Its advantages are that it is relatively cheap, easily available, can be worked readily and without detriment in a number of ways, both hot and cold, and is generally of fairly consistent quality/composition.


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Q. Is wrought iron still available?

Many smiths, including ourselves, will hoard any bits and pieces of old wrought iron that they come across for use when the occasion presents itself. On a larger scale, although it is no longer a widely available material,  it is still possible to buy wrought iron from a firm of smiths, Chris Topp and Co, in Yorkshire.

Meanings of the term ‘wrought iron.

My large modern Collins  dictionary definition of wrought iron is ” a pure form of iron having a low carbon content: often used for decorative work.”

I suppose that a dictionary doesn’t set out to tell the full story, but, particularly as modern usage of the term can vary so much from the original and ‘correct’ meaning I feel it is worth attempting to expand upon the point. My apologies to Messrs Collins et al for the presumption.

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