Forge welding

Forge welding is a welding process of heating two or more pieces of metal and then hammering them together. The process is one of the simplest methods of joining metals and has been used since ancient times. Forge welding is versatile, being able to join a host of similar and dissimilar metals. With the invention of electrical and gas welding methods during the Industrial Revolution, forge welding has been largely replaced.

Forge welding between similar materials is caused by solid-state diffusion. This results in a weld that consists of only the welded materials without any fillers or bridging materials.

Forge welding between dissimilar materials is caused by the formation of a lower melting temperature eutectic between the materials. Due to this the weld is often stronger than the individual metals.

The temperature required to forge weld is typically 50 to 90 percent of the melting temperature, steel welds at a lower temperature than iron. The metal may take on a glossy or wet appearance at the welding temperature, care must be taken to avoid overheating the metal to the point that it gives off sparks from rapid oxidation (burning).


One of the most famous applications of forge welding is in the production of pattern-welded blades. During the process a billet of steel is repeatedly drawn out, folded back and welded upon itself. Another lesser known application was the manufacture of shotgun barrels. Metal wire was spooled onto a mandrel, and then forged into a barrel that was thin, uniform, and strong. Often such objects are acid etched to expose the underlying pattern of metal which is unique to each item and adds to their aesthetic appeal.


Often a flux is used to keep the welding surfaces from oxidizing and producing a poor quality weld. The flux also mixes with the oxides that do form and lowers the melting temperature and the viscosity of the oxides. This enables the oxides to flow out of the joint when the two pieces are beaten together. A simple flux can be made from borax, sometimes with the addition of iron filings.

Early examples of flux used different combinations and various amounts of iron fillings, borax, sal ammoniac, balsam of copaiba, cyanide of potash, and soda phosphate. The 1920 edition of Scientific American book of facts and formulae indicates a frequently offered trade secret as using copperas, saltpeter, common salt, black oxide of manganese, prussiate of potash, and "nice welding sand".

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