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Thread: Where to buy soft iron in europe

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    Where to buy soft iron in europe

    Hi

    Does anybody on the forum know where to get soft iron in rods or bar form in Europe. I was thinking of trying to make some pickup parts using soft iron as opposed to mild steel which apears to have more carbon in it.

    Cheers

    Andrew

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    i'm also interested in 3/16" rods and 1/8" thick sheets

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    Try to locate a mill that still makes wrought iron. Mostly what you see is hot rolled steel now but that's potentially better than 1018. Wrought iron has special properties that make it very resistant to rust compared to steel. It's nearly pure iron but has gone out of fashion. One potential source for the round slugs is malleable iron rivets aka "bridge rivets".

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    Hello David

    Here in Austria there is no shortage of wrought iron, as it´s still used on a lot of door fittings period furniture and garden metal work. I was just wondering as I have seen a schools equipment supplier offering soft iron (plated) for magnetic experimentation if there is a difference between wrought iron, soft iron or mild steel.

    Cheers
    Andrew

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    Andrew,
    I'm sure there are differences however you may find that they all sound alike or that some are better than others in your application. "Electrical iron" is what is used in transformers, speaker drivers and solenoid cores. We are surrounded with it and junk yards are full of it but you need to be able to turn that stuff into something you can use in a pickup. I think for bars it would be possible to disassemble transformers and cut the stacks up into shapes you can use but not useful for production until you try first. Then buy the shape you need from a transformer factory or their supplier. How many thousands of pickups can you make?

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    Old Timer defaced's Avatar
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    Try to locate a mill that still makes wrought iron.
    If by "wrought" you mean pure iron, then yes, it's still made. One vendor I know of is AK Steel, they manufacture a product called "Armco Iron". Their site says they produce "wire rod and bright drawn wire", so you might be able to find something suitable.

    I was just wondering as I have seen a schools equipment supplier offering soft iron (plated) for magnetic experimentation if there is a difference between wrought iron, soft iron or mild steel.
    Yes there is a difference, and it may be significant in any given application because the microstructure/chemical composition is very different between pure iron and common mild steels, but those terms are basically meaningless in the grand scheme of things without some real designator. Like if you say ASTM A36, that's a very common mild structural steel (similar to AISI 1018). Comparing that to Armco Iron you will see there is a big difference in properties that may effect what you're trying to do. So it's an "it depends" sort of answer, you really have to be more specific to get a meaningful answer.

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    Supporting Member belwar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by the great waldo View Post
    Hi

    Does anybody on the forum know where to get soft iron in rods or bar form in Europe. I was thinking of trying to make some pickup parts using soft iron as opposed to mild steel which apears to have more carbon in it.

    Cheers

    Andrew
    Soft Iron is Mild Steel. It was a term used in the 1950's (and probably 30's and 40's) to denote standard low carbon steels. There is no standard for Soft Iron. So basically 1010, 1018, 1022, 1215, etc are all soft iron.

    bel.

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    Quote Originally Posted by belwar View Post
    Soft Iron is Mild Steel. It was a term used in the 1950's (and probably 30's and 40's) to denote standard low carbon steels. There is no standard for Soft Iron. So basically 1010, 1018, 1022, 1215, etc are all soft iron.
    While the nomenclature is imprecise, what I think people are asking for by "soft iron" is electrical iron, which is somewhere between 1002 and 1005 alloy, optimized for magnetic properties, versus mechanical properties.

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    Fair enough!

    Im making the assumption that the person is looking for soft iron based on the Seth Lover quote that they (Gibson) used it. No PAF part was make with that low carbon.

    bel

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    Quote Originally Posted by belwar View Post
    Fair enough!

    Im making the assumption that the person is looking for soft iron based on the Seth Lover quote that they (Gibson) used it. No PAF part was make with that low carbon.

    bel
    Hi Belwar

    I was´nt particularily looking for anything recommended by Seth Lover or paf specific, I was just wondering if using soft iron parts in the magnetic circuit would improve anything in the pickup (the tone?)

    Cheers

    Andrew

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    Here's a UK company advertising itself as the sole world supplier of genuine wrought iron...

    Realwroughtironco : Products Available

    It sells round bar, flat bar & sheet.... I bet it ain't cheap though!

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    Pickup Maker David Schwab's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by the great waldo View Post
    Hi Belwar

    I was´nt particularily looking for anything recommended by Seth Lover or paf specific, I was just wondering if using soft iron parts in the magnetic circuit would improve anything in the pickup (the tone?)

    Cheers

    Andrew
    Like Belwar said, you want something like 1010 or 1018 (or lower carbon as Joe noted) mild steel. That's what was meant by "soft iron".

    You will hear a difference in tone with the different alloys.
    It would be possible to describe everything scientifically, but it would make no sense; it would be without meaning, as if you described a Beethoven symphony as a variation of wave pressure. — Albert Einstein

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    Well the Peskywinnit's link is a whole lot more relevant here is it's more or less located in Europe and it probably allows the purchase of less than a 1 ton spool of wire or band. They might even send out samples.
    I've done some preliminary tests of 1008, malleable iron rivets, 1018, music wire and O1 tool steel and I can't hear a difference. Everyone else I've talked to says it makes a huge difference but I can't hear it. My one engineering buddy swears that it won't make the slightest difference either, tells me to worry about my magnets instead.
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    Quote Originally Posted by David King View Post
    Well the Peskywinnit's link is a whole lot more relevant here is it's more or less located in Europe and it probably allows the purchase of less than a 1 ton spool of wire or band. They might even send out samples.
    I've done some preliminary tests of 1008, malleable iron rivets, 1018, music wire and O1 tool steel and I can't hear a difference. Everyone else I've talked to says it makes a huge difference but I can't hear it. My one engineering buddy swears that it won't make the slightest difference either, tells me to worry about my magnets instead.
    Hi David

    I´ll go with your ears, and save myself some aggravation, I was never any good at hearing grass growing. By the way Robert Cray killer player and singer, and i´ll bet he does´nt worry about single or double enamel formvar.

    Cheers

    Andrew

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    Pickup Maker David Schwab's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by David King View Post
    I've done some preliminary tests of 1008, malleable iron rivets, 1018, music wire and O1 tool steel and I can't hear a difference.
    Really? It might be the amount you are using. I've used 1008, 1010, 1018, 430 Stainless, and O1, and they sound different to me.

    Your engineering buddy is forgetting that lower carbon steel is more magnetic. or as Joe put it "optimized for magnetic properties". The harder the steel gets, the brighter and harsher it sounds. The softer stuff sounds warmer to me, with more detail.
    It would be possible to describe everything scientifically, but it would make no sense; it would be without meaning, as if you described a Beethoven symphony as a variation of wave pressure. — Albert Einstein

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    Good point David,
    I've only played around with 1/8" and 3/16" round pole pieces not solid bars.

    "Optimized for magnetic properties" could mean several different things, pure iron won't hold a charge so if that's your criteria then yes.

    I'm sure a lot of it is that my ears don't know what to listen for so until I have an extech to show me a change in the peak I just can't tell if there's a change.

  17. #17
    Pickup Maker David Schwab's Avatar
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    I've swapped pole piece screws on a PAF style humbucker with screws of a different alloy, and you sure could hear a difference. And that didn't include the slugs.
    It would be possible to describe everything scientifically, but it would make no sense; it would be without meaning, as if you described a Beethoven symphony as a variation of wave pressure. — Albert Einstein

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    Hello Andrew

    i can supply soft iron(pure iron/armco iron) follow your request.

    please contact me. My e-mail:sales@ourecotech.com

    Best Begards

    Eric From CHINA

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    Old Timer J M Fahey's Avatar
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    Well, this is an old post, dead for over a year.
    For what it's worth, I make speakers and use SAE1010 which is cheap and plentiful, and *is* soft iron.
    Only problem is that because of being mechanically soft, it produces long, curly, endless scrap when turned on a lathe, which often gets stuck and even breaks or cracks cutting tools easily.
    My lathe man hates it, so sometimes I buy 12L14 which is still magnetically soft, but breaks in 1 or 2 mm "scales".
    You can buy 6 meter bars of any of them *anywhere*.
    Sometimes you can get SAE1005 which is as soft as you can get commercially in reasonable quantities.
    I guess buying by the ton is out of the way.
    Good luck.

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  21. #21
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    Well, it's not in Europe but USA and only sells to Big Companies (not even retailers) in presumably multi-tonnes minimum order.
    Besides, they specialize in Stainless Steel, exotic alloys, tool metal and powdered-sintered metals.
    Quite out of reach for any of us.

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    Quote Originally Posted by the great waldo View Post
    Hi

    Does anybody on the forum know where to get soft iron in rods or bar form in Europe. I was thinking of trying to make some pickup parts using soft iron as opposed to mild steel which apears to have more carbon in it.

    Cheers

    Andrew
    Hi Andrew, did you finally find a place where to buy soft iron in rods or bars in Europe? I'm looking for the same thing. Thanks.

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    I don't know but I sure got a kick out of watching the video here voestalpine Precision Strip - Home

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    Senior Member salvarsan's Avatar
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    Some searching tells me that wrought iron contains microscopic slag inclusions,i.e., sand and maybe silicon.
    A low silicon electrical steel might be a good Plan B choice. Look for non-oriented electrical steels.
    Other search phrases are
    Silicon steel, transformer laminations, low hysteresis steel.
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    I think that it's 1018 that is sought; this is widely available under one name or another.

    The main sources will be German, but I bet that there are many Italian sources. In either event, I'd find a metalworking form and ask there.

    LtKojak on this forum may be able to help.

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    I think you are reading too much into this.

    In general speaking terms, "soft iron" and "mild steel" mean exactly the same: low carbon steel, period.

    Which translates into "magnetically soft" iron, "low coercitivity" iron, "low remanence" iron, etc. , all meaning the same: that iron itself does not *stay* magnetized even after getting inside a magnetizer.

    Reason is simple: because any remaining magnetism will *substract* from main magnet flux, don't look beyond that.

    I make speakers and for me it's clear: suppose I have a ceramic speaker assembly inside the magnetizer yoke, pointing up.

    I apply a huge pulse, so strong that all microscopic domains (small molecule sized "magnets" inside the ceramic material) get oriented North up, also all inside the soft iron polepiece will, and to boot the pole piece will be saturated.
    So I have *all* magnetic material pointing North, both ceramic ring and polepiece.
    Now I cut the current and pull speaker outside the machine.

    Ceramic magnet being a *hard* magnetic material (Alnico too although not that strong) will stay magnetized, still North up.

    But polepiece must lose the North up it had seconds ago and become South up (under the influence of the ceramic magnet remaining field) so as to close the magnetic circuit, ANY remaining North magnetization will substract from desired flux in the voice coil gap.
    That's why an "as soft as possible" material is needed.

    We all have tools, drills, etc. which magnetize easily and *keep* magnetism, in general picking annoying iron filings and such, that's because they are high carbon for hardness.

    So search (with an open mind) for soft/mild iron/steel with as low Carbon as possible, and don't worry.

    Unfortunately low carbon has poor mechanical properties , so it sells little, so suppliers in general don't carry it.

    I can get 1008 with certain ease, but in 1" to 2" cylindrical cold rolled bars, see you are having to use 1018 , not that bad but not the best.

    Can't imagine why silicon steel would help here , its low hysteresis is fine in motors or transformers but not too important (or noticeable) at low pickup magnetic densities; plus it's very hard, you can't make wire with it (what for?) , only widely available in rolled sheets.
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    The closest I've come in the USA is the wire they use in assembling wooden step ladders. The diameter is .177" or about 4.5mm. It's usually 1008 or 1010 and come in gigantic spools of 500Kg. I have a friend who uses it for truss rods but he has to order 1000 at a time from a ladder manufacturer.
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    1018 steel is MINIMALLY 98.81% Fe

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    Thank you everybody for your help! I've found some small metalworking company around here and I'm going to ask them.

    I've also found a supplier of black iron and zink plated iron in 1.5mm bars. Would zink plated iron or black iron do the trick?
    Last edited by Alberto; 02-08-2016 at 02:37 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Alberto View Post
    Thank you everybody for your help! I've found some small metalworking company around here and I'm going to ask them.

    I've also found a supplier of black iron and zink plated iron in 1.5mm bars. Would zink plated iron or black iron do the trick?
    Probably - it isn't all that critical. More important is to use an alloy that is a commodity that can be bought in small quantities from multiple sources, so your recipe won't be undermined by sudden inability to buy more of the alloy you tuned your recipe to.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joe Gwinn View Post
    Probably - it isn't all that critical. More important is to use an alloy that is a commodity that can be bought in small quantities from multiple sources, so your recipe won't be undermined by sudden inability to buy more of the alloy you tuned your recipe to.
    Thank you, Joe. I'll try it out and see what I can do with it.

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    They just sent me the chemical composition: iron with 0.05% to 0.08% of carbon, 0.4%-0.5% Manganese, 0.05%-0.08% Sulfure. It should work great! Thanks to all.

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    I was at Ace this evening looking through the hardware section and noticed steel dowel pins in a variety of diameters and lengths. Heck, they're even beveled and look like unpolished slugs.

    A quick search shows that these are most typically "hardened alloy steel." Wikipedia tells me this means low carbon steel alloyed with any number of other metals like aluminum, boron, cobalt, molybdenum, nickel, tungsten to add particular working properties.

    At $.38 a piece, I'd give em a try.

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    You'd be even better off starting with malleable iron rivets which are still sold in some hardware stores (Winks) or can be easily ordered in a wide variety of diameters and lengths. These were very widely used in construction, fabrication and shipbuilding.

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