APPALACHIAN IRONWORKS Salem, Virginia
Ironwork is a general term used for anything fabricated from iron or steel. As far back as
500 BC humans have been using iron and steel to make tools, weapons, and utensils.
Today what many people refer to as wrought iron is actually hand forged modern steel
or bent work.
Wrought iron comes from iron ore that has very low carbon content. This particular
kind of Iron is more malleable and because of the "wrought" process (heating, working,
and cooling) it becomes very rust resistant. This ore was mined up until the 1930's
when demand turned from Farrier’s and Blacksmithing to Mechanical assembly lines.
Wrought iron is welded together using a forged weld technique, when two pieces of
metal are heated and hammered together forcing the molecules to fuse. Today the only
way to make true wrought iron products is to recycle old ones such as bridges, fencing,
and old steel buildings. Needless to say it should be considered a precious metal and
therefore is not cheap.
Hand forged steel is modern steel that is heated just enough to be manipulated into
shapes such as scrolling or twisting etc. These shapes are usually used as ornaments
to be incorporated into and compliment pieces of bent work.
Bent work is a term that refers to steel being worked cold; cut and welded together
using solder or an arc weld process. Heavy benders, jigs, and occasionally an
acetylene torch are also used to manipulate the steel. In the last few years there has
been a huge increase in the demand for ironwork. Ornamental bent work makes
ironwork fabrication much more efficient and certainly more affordable, and maintains
the same long lasting quality and function as old Wrought iron.