Amongst the most beautifully classic and impressive materials to be employed in furniture modelling, wrought iron is a genre of iron that is soft, ductile and fibrous, infused with slag and comprising of less than even 0.1 percent of carbon. Spanning from its use in forging up boundary fences deployed with a goal to secure ones premises, to hand carve detailed and intricate articles of décor to garnish the said premise, wrought iron is an exquisite metal that pitches in, in adding a spice of class and sophistication.

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Wrought iron is a sifted form of iron that is derived by smelting and solicit pressure with the help of tools. It is divergent from the original iron ore as it contains low carbon content. Wrought Iron owes its name from ‘worked iron’. It is forged by blacksmiths artisans who avail of tools to shape the Iron and take edge of its malleable properties. Sporting a simple and classic look, the uniformity in its appearance attests to the handiwork. The bygone era bore witness to the use of wrought iron in making a diversity of robust equipment, including armor, gates, locks, furniture, etc. Pre-eminent for its sturdiness and durability in modern days, wrought iron is obscure available, and is rarely sold in mainstream stores. It is strenuous to procure wrought iron today as it is in short supply and is predominantly exercised into play by the artisans for decorative purposes.

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The iron strips are predominantly fashioned and moulded into spectacular pieces of artworks by the process of forging. The soft and fibrous structure, a light grey in colour, is hammered and twisted (or stretched) forged into the desired shaped on an anvil which is a flat work pad. The heated iron is worked on and blemished with intricate designs, delicate curves and dramatic scrolls to fit the requirement of the design. As the metal is worked on it gradually loses its softness to attain a more brittleness and hardness. Meticulous work and precision of the artisans are involved which ultimately leads to the creation of a masterpiece that is worth the hours and sweat.

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Wrought iron is susceptible to corrosion when bare surfaces are exposed to oxygen in the presence of moisture. This can be challenging for outdoor environments with near-constant exposure to precipitation and humidity. Unlike other metals that form a protective oxidative coating, iron will, given enough time, rust and flake away entirely.

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Thus to fend off the untimely rusting and withering of the product, the iron fabricated artefacts ought to be coated to prevent exposure. A medley of products come into play, acting as the protectant medium and a barrier that impedes the formation of rust, ranging from epoxy enamels to zinc based primers. Another approach is the glazing of the metal surface with paint. Paint is commonly used in coating and shielding bare metal from the surrounding air and moisture that fosters the process of corrosion. Powder coating is another tactic, ideal for outdoor furnishings more susceptible to wear in high-traffic areas. Powder coatings are highly robust and won’t fade, chip or crack over extended span of time.

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Types of Wrought Iron

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The original form of wrought iron is the one that blacksmiths work upon. It is an iron alloy that could be deformed and shaped into many different things. Nevertheless in terms of the initial iron types, wrought iron can be classified into puddled iron and charcoal iron.

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Puddled Iron

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The method is subjected on pig iron to achieve highest quality wrought iron by treating the former with high heat in a furnace (reverberator furnace) in the presence of oxidising substances. The process in metallurgy is famed as puddling, and it witnessed its bloom in the Great Britain during its industrial revolution.

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Puddled iron is generate by detaching contamination contained in it by rigorously assorting it in the furnace. The molten iron is mixed using long metal rods to escort the contamination to the top. These contamination are then skimmed off to acquire puddled iron.

The whole process is done on a large scale ended to acquire cast Iron.

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Charcoal Iron

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Charcoal Iron is derived by heating the raw iron ore near its melting point in a charcoal incinerator. Aforementioned type of wrought iron is fabricated on a smaller scale by forging. A blacksmith artisans later removes the contamination from the heated forge and beats the persisting iron into divergent wrought iron shapes using tools such as an anvil and hammer. The goal of the procedure is to remove contamination from iron. The ultimately product garners favours owing to its heat resistance, malleability and toughness.

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Wrought Iron Properties

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Whilst wrought iron exhibits properties that are not found in other forms of ferrous metal, it lacks the carbon content necessary for hardening through heat treatment. Wrought iron may be welded in the same approach as mild steel.
Wrought Iron is an unadulterated iron, and the rest can be slag or smelted iron by-products. Slag is forged when the iron core is heated at high temperatures. It is a combination of metal oxides and silicon dioxide. The uniform addition of slag into the metal bestows the whole ensemble with a fibrous structure. Wrought Iron, as it contains silicates, it has a fibrous structure. The blacksmiths to shape it with ease as it becomes more ductile.

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  • The multitude of attributes attests to the high quality of the material. These properties ascribes the metal to be worked on at temperatures nearing even its melting point.
  • Besides its famed toughness, malleability and ductility the metal can be easily welded.
  • It harbours the ability to hold on to protective coatings and glazes which just further strengthens its resistance against rusting and corrosion.
  • The metal offers a great deal of resistance in comparison to its brother (cast iron). Owing to its higher tensile strength it makes a good candidate for construction work. The inclusion of slag amongst its components furthers its strength as the fibres tend to resist the crack to some extent rather than instantly fracturing on occasional overloading unless and until it is well beyond the limit.
  • The ability of the wrought iron to hold out against surface indentation is quantified by the Brinell hardness. The wrought iron hardness approximating to an average of 100 MPa accounts for its resistance to abrasion, scratching and indentation.
  • The other mechanical properties circling the parameters are the yield strength which primarily narrates the commencement of the non elastic behavior of the material and the wrought iron reaches a notch of about 160- 220 MPa; and the Young’s modulus of elasticity that states the point up till which the body illustrates an elastic behavior which charts up to a rough estimate of 190 GPa for wrought iron.

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Wrought iron use in making furniture

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Blacksmiths artisans apply techniques such as shrinking and drawing using a hammer to modify the appearance of wrought iron. Whilst is done when the iron is put through forging heat and turned orange-red. During the procedure, the blacksmith artisans gives the iron its dimensions- length, depth, and width. Besides, in the process, they are up to bend, create patterns, and draw holes on the surface. Aforementioned is possible due to iron’s molecular property to flatter ductile and malleable when applied with heat. The procedure is used to create fireplace tools, wood holders, lighting fixtures, wine holders, railings, racks, hangers, table base, legs and door handle.

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The furniture making industry’s history is etched with iron works dating back as far as to the Roman times. The trajectory of the handiwork to create the ultimate masterpiece travels from forging to heat treating to welding finalised by polishing. While the forging of the metal encompasses the hammering of metal strip on the workpiece to contort the material into desired shape garnishing the ensemble with winding twists and delicate scrolls; the heat treatment centres on the concept of upgrading the property of the metal. The third step entails the fabrication of the strips of metal to solder, with the assistance heat or pressure. The conclusion to the zillions of processes the iron has to go through is the finishing touches it’s garlanded with where the artisan chafes and polishes the jagged and unrefined edges followed by varnishing, painting oiling or waxing.

The whole process helps in highlighting the character and style of the complete ensemble.

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By and large used for pipe making in furniture due to its superior corrosion and fatigue resistance and better welding and threading qualities. Wrought Iron is pre-owned for making bars for stay bolts. Contemporary and traditional designer furniture wrought iron is worn in decorative items such as chandelier, railings, outdoor stairs, fences and gates. Large outdoor elements such as bollards, gates, fences, lamp standards, and park benches play a significant role in setting an ambiance It is also used extensively for general forging applications.

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Wrought iron is a heavily ductile material, and so it can be transformed into exclusive, intricate, and alluring designs. It is possible to create modern and traditional styled furniture using wrought iron.

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