At The Iron Spindle in Atlanta, Georgia, their specialty is installing wrought iron balusters in residential and commercial staircases. Their customers are people who adore the beauty and elegance of wrought iron in everything from staircases to furniture. It would be interesting to learn how much those customers actually know about the material itself.
How about you? Do you know anything more about wrought iron other than the fact that it can be aesthetically pleasing when used the right way? If not, you are not alone. To most of us, wrought iron is a product we buy off-the-shelf. We have no idea where it came from or how it was made.
Below are some interesting things you might not know about wrought iron:
It’s An Alloy
Wrought iron is actually an iron alloy, which is to say that it is a material made by combining iron ore with carbon and certain metals. Its signature is a rather low carbon content – less than 0.08%. For purposes of comparison, cast iron can have a carbon content as high as 4%.
The reason for mixing iron with other materials to create alloys is simple: iron in its natural state is not very usable as a manufacturing material. Wrought iron, as we know it, is typically a mixture of iron ore with a slag inclusion.
Its Name Comes from Fabrication
Despite popular belief, wrought iron is not a specific kind of alloy. Rather, the name comes from the fact that forgers work the iron material to create specific shapes. The word ‘wrought’ actually means ‘worked’. In order to create those previously mentioned wrought iron spindles, a forger continually heats the material and manipulates it with a variety of tools until the desired shape is achieved.
It’s Quite Malleable
One of the things that make wrought iron such a great fabricating material is the iron alloy’s malleability. Just heat it and you can bend or pound it into a variety of shapes. Once cooled, it is quite strong. Another thing to note is that the iron alloy gets stronger with each cycle of heating and cooling.
It Used to Be the Go-To Material
A lot of people do not know that wrought iron used to be the go-to material for all sorts of metal fabrication in the days before steel. Wrought iron was used for furniture, balustrades, decorative elements, and even infrastructure.
In the early days of steel making, ironworkers used large volumes of wrought iron to make steel weapons, cutlery, and farming implements. History suggests that generations of experience with wrought iron paved the way for the invention of modern steel hundreds of years ago.
It’s the Eiffel Tower’s Primary Building Material
When the Eiffel Tower first opened for the 1889 World’s Fair, it was the tallest structure in the world. It retained that title until the Chrysler Building was built in New York. At any rate, wrought iron is the primary building material for the tower.
The Eiffel Tower is essentially a huge conglomeration of wrought iron latticework that reaches a height in excess of 1,000 feet. It is tough enough to withstand the forces of nature year in and year out. Perhaps knowing what the tower is capable of makes it easier for you to choose wrought iron spindles for your own staircase.
Wrought iron is truly an amazing building material. It is all around us, too. Just open your eyes and look around. You will see wrought iron fences, gates, furniture, artwork, and more.