Wrought iron is a popular material for making decorative metal pieces, such as gates. It's extremely tough, but if wrought iron becomes damaged it can be difficult to repair. Soldering can be a useful way to repair surface damage, such as cracks or dents, in wrought iron.
What Is Wrought Iron?
Wrought iron refers to the process that the metal has been through in order to construct the piece. Unlike cast iron, which is melted and poured, wrought iron is heated up, then worked on with tools, often a hammer. It is tough and more malleable than other iron. Wrought iron tends to be fairly pure, with around 2 percent slag in the form of filaments.
What Is Soldering?
Solder is any low melting alloy used to join pieces of metal together. Unlike welding, in which to two pieces of metal are melted and brought together, soldering uses a separate metal element as a sort of "glue" to connect the two. Brazing wrought iron is also possible, but it is a much more difficult and potentially dangerous task. Welding and brazing are usually best left to the professionals.
In order to solder any metal, you'll need a supply of the alloy you're using, plus a soldering iron.
Wrought Iron Repair Using Solder
In order to solder wrought iron, you'll first need to prep your soldering iron. You do this by "tinning" the tip – applying a small amount of your soldering alloy. This helps keep oxidization steady and maintain a consistent temperature in the tip of the soldering iron. You also want to keep a damp sponge handy to clean the tip of your soldering iron. This will help you achieve a smoother solder.
You will also want a stand for your soldering iron so it has a safe place to rest while not in use. You can make a homemade soldering iron stand using a spare piece of wood and wire coat hanger if needed.
You also need to hold your wrought iron in place, as any sudden movement during soldering can cause crystallization. Too much heat can cause damage to wrought iron, so it's best to work in small sections. Never hold the soldering iron too close to your wrought iron for too long.
Next, heat up your solder to the piece of wrought iron you are repairing. Don't touch your soldering iron to the wrought iron directly. As the solder melts, move it into position in the crack or dent you're trying to repair. Try to keep your motion as smooth as possible as this will prevent your soldered join cracking as it dries.
You can repeat the wrought iron repair process to as many areas of surface damage as you need to. After you've finished, allow your soldering iron to cool in its stand in a vertical position. Remove the excess solder after the iron is cooled to prevent the tip oxidizing.
Safety Tips For Soldering Wrought Iron
Make sure you're using the right soldering iron and solder alloy for your wrought iron repairs. Check with the manufacturer if you're unsure.
Always make sure you're prepared with a soldering iron stand and a damp sponge. Keep your soldering iron clean as not only will a dirty iron pose a safety risk, but it'll also make for poor quality joins. It's also recommended that you wear some safety equipment when soldering, particularly some gloves to avoid potentially burning your hands on the hot metal. It's also recommended you wear some form of eye protection as solder can "spit."
Remember that metals conduct heat, so never hold your wrought iron in your hands when soldering. Instead, use a stand or a clamp to hold it in place.
Once you're done with your soldering iron, make sure you switch it off and unplug it. You must also wait until it's adequately cool before putting it away.