A historic metal and the traditional material of the Blacksmith. It’s a tough ductile and fibrous material, which is more malleable and resistant to corrosion than modern steel. Today, wrought iron is mainly used in restoration and special projects where like for like materials are required and its high cost is warranted. Wrought Iron comes in several varieties, namely charcoal and puddled iron which take their names from their production methods. Wrought iron is now only available in recycled format; and it has become a finite resource. We would recommend it is only used for heritage restoration work due to its limited quantity and availability.
Pure Iron appears relatively new to us today but was around in Roman times and probably earlier. It is at least 99.8% pure and is the closest to the best quality charcoal wrought iron produced in the 18th and 19th centuries. Pure Iron is more readily available and far cheaper to produce than Wrought Iron. It is an ideal material to be used in the restoration of historic metal work as it mimics many of
its wrought irons weather resistant qualities and malleability.
Cast iron cannot be forged. It is a form of iron which is poured molten into moulds. It requires the associated process of pattern making to form the desired shapes and moulds. It is the most efficient way of mass-producing repeat items. It is available in many varieties, most commonly grey iron or the more malleable SG iron. Cast Iron has better heat and corrosion resistance than steel and is incredibly strong in compression.
Aluminium is the most abundant metal on Earth. It has a relatively soft ductile nature is 1/3 lighter and dense than steel. It can easily be machined, cast, drawn and welded. It can be used as decorative metalwork where weight can be an issue. It can be easily fabricated and can have good corrosion resistance due to a thin layer of aluminium oxide that forms on the surface. The waste can be fully recycled
Copper is a pure metal and the first metal discovered by humans who smelted it from its ore. Copper is very ductile and a great thermal transmitter and is commonly used in electrical distribution. It was the first metal to be cast into an object and is a pink to reddish brown colour when freshly exposed. The statue of liberty is a great example of copper being used on a structure. We use Copper for decorative purposes such as on roofing and for leaf design work.
Bronze is an alloy consisting mainly of Copper and Tin. It can often have other properties such as Aluminium, Zinc, Manganese and Nickel.
These additions help produce a harder, stiffer and more ductile material which can be cast and machined. Used in the metalwork industry for casting objects such as sculptures or sections for doorways, windows and grilles. Handrails and staircase balusters are popular to have in cast bronze.
Brass is an alloy similar to Bronze but with more Zinc as opposed to Tin. The colour and properties of Brass can vary with the ratio of copper to Tin. Brass is more malleable than Bronze and can be forged. When cast it can be made harder or softer by varying the amount of Zinc added. Brass is an attractive gold colour when polished which can be protected with either wax or lacquers. Brass has excellent anti-corrosion qualities and is often used in marine environments. The copper in Brass makes it anti germicidal and suitable for handles on doorways. Brass is often found in handrails, moving parts and decorative items where its colour is needed to bring a piece to life.
Steel is a highly refined alloy of iron and carbon, commonly available for structural purposes. This material is a modern day, cost effective alternative to wrought iron and can be used for all the same purposes. It is easily worked in all formats and is susceptible to a range of treatments to increase its weather resistance and longevity.
Stainless steel does not readily corrode, rust or stain with water as ordinary steel does. Stainless Steel now has many new grades to improve its anti-corrosive properties. It’s not a fully corrosion resistant and certain grades should be considered for the project it is to be used in. It is an alloy and has a minimum of 10.5% chromium content by mass. Stainless steel can be polished to a high degree and is useful in metalwork restoration if used where high oxidisation occurs.