What does it mean to Forge Weld?

Phillip Bowling, Noble Forge, Artist Blacksmith

Forge welding is a solid-state welding process, joining two pieces of metal by heating them to a high temperature and then hammering them together. That’s right, HAMMERING!  It’s simple but it’s not easy.  Forge welding has been used for thousands of years. Forge welding is versatile, being able to join (heat, melt, intermingling the two metals and then cool) a host of similar and dissimilar metals. Unfortunately with the invention of electrical and gas welding methods during the Industrial Revolution, forge welding has been largely replaced.  Why?  Because it’s quicker, easier and less expensive.  But is it better?  No!  It’s like margarine.  Sure, margarine is good for some things, like baking but it is not butter.  If you are having an exquisite meal at an exclusive restaurant, do you think they are serving you margarine or butter?  Butter!!  Why?  Because margarine is an imitation of butter.  Butter is authentic.  It comes from the milk of a cow and is churned, margarine is mixture of oils and flavors.   The texture, quality and feel of metals when forge welded are like butter.  Forge welding is the original and all other processes of welding are a replacement for the original method.  When you think of forge welding think of butter and all the other types of welding are margarine.

When we forge weld similar materials, a solid-state diffusion occurs (think “one solid piece”). As a result, the weld consists of only the welded materials without any fillers or bridging materials. Two pieces have been joined to create one piece.  “Fillers” – we hear about fillers all the time in our food, they are additives.  The main purpose of fillers is to reduce the cost of the products and it is true for metal works as well.

Hammered Metal, Phillip Bowling, Artist Blacksmith, Hammered Metal

Forge welding between dissimilar or different materials causes a lower melting temperature between the materials. There is a fancy science term for this type of reaction called the Eutectic system.  What is important to know is that this type of weld is often stronger than the individual metals independent of each other.

The temperature required to forge weld is typically 50 to 90 percent of the melting temperature. Different materials have different melting points, for example, steel welds at a lower temperature than iron. The metal may take on a glossy or wet appearance at the welding or melting temperature. Care must be taken to avoid overheating the metal to the point that it gives off sparks from rapid oxidation, otherwise you are just burning metal!!  We don’t want to burn metal, we want to heat it, then shape it and make something amazing.  That’s why we like to forge weld and use the ancient art of blacksmithing at Noble Forge.

Bed Knob Post, Custom Iron, Custom Metal, Forge Welded, Artist Crafted

Depending on the application, all types of welding can be very good.  You have to decide which is better for your situation…butter or margarine?  We recommend forge welding when crafting, shaping and forming metal but Noble Forge can do all types of welding.  Noble Forge works with metal, that’s what we do.  We appreciate forge welding because it allows us to use the craft of blacksmithing.  Using the forge gives metal a quality, texture and authenticity that other types of welding do not.  However, when it comes to metal and working with metal think of Noble Forge.  Noble Forge knows metal and Phillip Bowling is an artist blacksmith.