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How can I make a Nichrome heating element style set up that will allow me to heat iron up from red to white hot?

I am hoping to take the fire out of blacksmithing by using the same technology that turns nichrome wire into a heating element. I don't want to make a nichrome heater. I am hoping to have removable leads that will allow me to attach to whatever piece of metal I am working with and heat it up directly. Anyone ever tried anything like this?

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iceng4 years ago
You would not be able to heat-up copper, gold, silver but Iron which has a high
resistance compared to those metals, is an other matter.

Look at the low voltage High Current Soldering Guns and Slug Heaters
that heat by Ohms Law resistive power dissipation through a suitable metal.

I would try at using a high current electric welding transformer possibly with a water cooled secondary to heat iron insulated in a fire brick oven enclosure comparable to a gas forge. 

Then take it out and pound on it as any black smith anvil.

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LIBlacksmith (author)  iceng4 years ago
Someone else I was talking with mentioned using a welding transformer. I'll look into it, thanks. I'm currently working with a litlle home built brakedrum forge, but I would like to be able to use my setup indoors without installing a vent/chimney to pipe away the smoke.
FoolishSage4 years ago
If you want fire-less forging you can go with induction heating like this guy: http://www.knifenetwork.com/forum/showthread.php?t=54160
LIBlacksmith (author)  FoolishSage4 years ago
I would go with the induction heating, but if I want to work on larger projects it will become near impossible without an enormous set up. Thanks for the link, though. I'll try to learn more about it to see if there is a happy medium.
Don't forget the role of carbon in the forge for affecting the properties of your workpiece.
LIBlacksmith (author)  steveastrouk4 years ago
I don't know how much the charcoal really affects the carbon content of the metal. Folks use gas forges all the time and I am not aware if there is any notable difference in the way you work with the metal. It seems that your choice in quenching fluids will have a more considerable effect on the metal than your heat source. I'll be sure to look into the implications of each heating method. Thanks for mentioning it.
rickharris4 years ago
Nope . Not going to work, power is measured in watts, your fire is generating mega watts, at best induction heating maybe a complicated possibility
Consider induction heating is just another kind of transformer doing
resistive heating of a material.  Yes it vibrates atoms causing friction.

Electric resistance is electrons accelerating in a wires void spaces
until a collision with another particle occurs to make surrounding
atoms heat up due to friction !

Both follow ohms law, Both increase temperature, Both raise the
vibration of the material atoms and the released heat energy is
the result of the input power minus the system losses  :-)

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frollard iceng4 years ago
I think author is asking, can he just put current through his work piece to heat it up - he could, but the current for most things is astronomical (saw a youtube vid of a guy putting thousands of amps through a crowbar at a few volts.)

The bus bars necessary to heat stuff like that must be absolutely gargantuan to prevent them heating instead of the work piece.
LIBlacksmith (author)  frollard4 years ago
Hmmm, thanks for your input. I'll keep researching
LIBlacksmith (author)  iceng4 years ago
Thanks for the info!
LIBlacksmith (author)  rickharris4 years ago
Yes, it does seem that induction heating is the best option apart from a forge. Thanks for your input
Induction heating is the way to go. Knife work would only take a few kW.
LIBlacksmith (author)  steveastrouk4 years ago
I saw the induction heating stuff and it does look like a great option for knife work. I would like to go for bigger projects than that thought. It could be a fun project none the less. Thanks
You can't have a question that says "How can I make a Nichrome heating element style set up " and then say "I don't want to make a nichrome heater"
LIBlacksmith (author)  steveastrouk4 years ago
I have limited knowledge on the subject. The only thing I knew to compare my idea to was a nichrome heater. Point was, can I use the same tech but put a piece of iron in place of the nichrome to get it nice and hot.
No because it involves very high voltages and current. Which can quickly and easily end in death. Not to mention the power lines in your house would not be able to handle the amount of power needed to even heat a 6" piece of rebar. In order to heat any decent sized piece of metal to white hot the cables would have to be considerably larger to handle the current draw. Not to mention well insulated. If it's able to get a piece of steel red hot it will easily melt the copper wires leading from the power source to the steel.