One way to become proficient in spark testing ferrous metals is to gather an assortment of samples of known metals and test them. Make all of the samples about the same size and shape so their identities are not revealed simply by the size or shape. Number each sample and prepare a list of names and corresponding numbers. Then, without looking at the number of the sample, spark test one sample at a time, calling out its name to someone assigned to check it against the names and numbers on the list. Repeating this process gives you some of the experience you need to become proficient in identifying individual samples.
Another simple test used to identify an unknown piece of metal is the chip test. The chip testis made by removing a small amount of material from the test piece with a sharp, cold chisel. The material removed varies from small, broken fragments to a continuous strip. The chip may have smooth, sharp edges; it maybe coarse-grained or fine-grained; or it may have sawlike edges. The size of the chip is important in identifying the metal. The ease with which the chipping can be accomplished should also be considered. The information given in table 1-4 can help you identify various metals by the chip test.
The use of a magnet is another method used to aid in the general identification of metals. Remember that ferrous metals, being iron-based alloys, normally are magnetic, and nonferrous metals are nonmagnetic. This test is not 100-percent accurate because some stainless steels are nonmagnetic. In this instance, there is no substitute for experience.Continue Reading