So it's in my mind that there are some interesting metals out there, I just need to learn how to "see" them! A friend had an old truck axle for me, to use in making a hammer (or 10!), and on the way back home we took a little detour.
In a backwater slough, we found the remains of an old log boom. Back in the day, huge rafts of logs were floated downstream to the lumber mills. A log "boom" was a string of logs, tied together, which acted to hold the mass of logs in one area, like those pole/strap thingies at the bank queues. What we found was some old logs with a bunch of spikes and metal rods still stuck in them.
Here is a 12" spike, in pretty good shape.
If you look REEEEEEAALY close, you might see a trace of "wood" grain, but is it wrought iron?
Look REALLY close.
There were some sections of 1" thick bar, 1'-2' long. It forged very nicely....
But etching didn't show much.
The break test.....
Is this the "grain" that they keep talking about?
Here is the break test on one of the spikes....
Not much grain, but possibly a bit. It looks a bit laminar. When these samples break, they tend to fail slowly, gradually.
Here is a big nail, from a different log. Most likely modern, and probably not wrought iron.
The grain looks homogenous, and when bent, the sample broke cleanly and was abrupt.
Here is the break test from a piece of known mild steel.
Some laminar elements, but mostly homogenous, and the break was clean and abrupt.
A soft (I think, not marked HC in any event) railroad spike.
Interesting grain, very coarse at the core, finer at the outer surface, and the break was very abrupt.
Most of these pieces of metal have been sunk into saltwater soaked logs for God know how long. Even at the most corroded points, there was no real "wood grain" to be seen. It just looks like rusty metal.
I put the most heavily corroded sections in the electrolysis tank overnight.
There we go..... Looks like wrought iron to me!
The exposed portion has no real grain visible, maybe a touch, if you know what you are looking for.
The other end that was hidden under the thick rust sure has a dramatic wood grain look to it.
I love how the end has flared out, due to hammering or corrosion, I don't know.
Same thing, rusty, but a different type of metal.
The pattern of corrosion looks different, even after electrolysis. More pitting, less wood grain.
The end, though..... That looks like a stranded composition to me.
Some of the erosion is very dramatic.
This should make for some very interesting patterning, when forged into a blade.
At the rate that I work at, this 60 lbs should last quite a while.
Ugly..... Interesting, potential!
I've started a few blades.
The kuri-kogatana shows promise, but the marking knife has some cold-short tearing, so it will probably get trashed. Good practice!
I've forge welded this stuff into billets, folding the layers again and again. Some I've twisted, then etched, but nothing so far has exhibited any dramatic patterning. I think that this is just a very "clean" form of wrought iron, highly refined, and with little of the slag that gives wrought iron the dramatic patterning that I so like. The lack of dark inclusions, combined with the excellent forgeability leads me to this conclusion. That's both good and bad. Good, high quality wrought is easier to work, supposedly, and is probably better for a novice like me. It doesn't look as cool, though.
Wrought iron came in different grades, intended for different uses. There was talk a few years back about substandard wrought iron rivets possibly contributing to the sinking of the Titanic.
Wrought iron was rapidly being superseded by steel at the time of building in 1911-12, and while steel rivets were used for most of the ship's construction, wrought iron rivets were used in the more restricted areas of the ship. Possibly some corners were cut, and cheaper materials were used, to maximize profits? Surely THAT could never happen!
Here is a beautiful rivet, by Ballard Forge (I believe).