Choosing Wrought Iron

Given its limited availability and high price compared to Mild Steel, Wrought Iron is not always the first or right choice for all metalwork projects. Wrought Iron is ideally suited for external and traditionally forged work and although a number of blacksmiths and commissioners utilise these properties in new work, its prime use today is in the restoration and conservation of historic ironwork.

Modern conservation practice insists on the replacement of materials with like materials (BS7913: 1998 7.3.2.4). As Wrought Iron is available for the repair and replication of wrought ironwork, it is not appropriate to use Mild Steel or Pure Iron. It would, for example, be considered wrong to repair historic stonework with concrete or cast stone and a similar principle applies to Wrought Iron. Furthermore it is generally accepted that mild steel be used on external work should be zinc coating by galvanising or hot spraying. The intricate forms and water traps of traditional decorative ‘wrought ironwork’ are notorious hotspots for corrosion and as neither of these zinc treatments is permissible nor effective (explained under protection and finishing in technical information 3, Workshop Techniques) with ancient work, the use of Mild Steel is effectively ruled out.

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