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People often ask us what the difference is between wrought iron and ornamental iron. These days, the terms are used interchangeably. But purists and historians will give you a different definition of wrought iron. Let’s dust off our metalsmithing history book and cast a look back to the days of yore.

Wrought Iron in the days of Blacksmiths

Not too many blacksmiths ply their trade these days. Many who do are confined to historical parks. But before modern mechanization, blacksmithing was the norm when it came to working iron. The old definition of wrought iron referred to iron that was worked while white hot, then shaped by physical force, such as the blacksmith’s hammers. Also, instead of the arc welding widely used today, traditional blacksmiths used forge welding to join two white hot pieces of metal, then fused them together with the blows of a hammer. You can identify real traditional wrought iron by slight irregularities where it was shaped by hand tools rather than by machines. If you look closely, you might be able to identify the marks of the blacksmith’s hammer.

Bent Work

wrought iron window guard
Flickr/Diana Robinson

Much of what passes for wrought iron today is what purists might call “bent work.” Instead of heating the metal until it’s white hot, bent work involves metal strips, tubing or bars that are cut, heated and then bent. Or –hear the blacksmiths gasp – even worked cold. Bent work is joined by arc welding or fasteners rather than forge welding. Arc welding uses an electric arc to heat and join the ends of two metal pieces.

Type of Iron

Another difference between historical wrought iron and modern ornamental iron is carbon content. Old-time blacksmiths used low-carbon iron, which contained 0.04% carbon. Ornamental iron work today is made of mild steel, which has a 0.2 to 0.6% carbon content. Low-carbon iron is extremely hard to find these days, but did have the advantage of being very resistant to rust. Which may be why New Orleans’ French Quarter still looks as good as it does.

Our Custom Ornamental Iron Fences

At Buzz Custom Fence, we may use modern techniques and materials but we are just as fussy about the quality of our work as the blacksmiths of olden days. Our exclusive perma-plus paint powder coating ensures that your finish will last longer than that of a painted iron fence. Choose from black, brown, white or green. Customers love ornamental fences because they combine security, decoration and an open feel. Plus, our iron fences are bug-resistant.
We love to design beautiful iron fences. We offer a variety of ornate designs, from simple to ornate. You can choose pointed or spear-shaped finials for added style and protection.
Thinking about how great your house would look surrounded by an ornamental iron fence? Call us today.