Jump to content

Rusty railroad spikes for metal?


B_St.Laurent

Recommended Posts

Hello, i am a 17 year old that has been looking into beginning bladesmithing as a hobby after my history teacher told me about it and explained to me a bit of the basics after school one day. and he showed me this forum and told me it is great for questions and such.

 

so far i have studied the steps of bladesmithing, and gotten a small piece of railroad track for an anvil and a hammer, i am looking into building a gas forge with a fire brick and a propane torch, as suggested by my teacher. and i was wondering if it would be ok to use railroad spikes that you can find in the rocks around railroad tracks.

 

my question is that most of them are rusty, some much rustier than others, how would i go about using the spikes to at least start getting some experience in hammering, should i get something like steel wool to take off as much rust as possible before i heat the spikes in the forge? or would it be ok to just forge them with the rust on them?

 

Thank you for your time and effort to read this and help me out if you can, again thank you.

 

-Brandon St.Laurent

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Try soaking them in vinegar over night. That will loosen up most of the heavier rust so that you can scrub it off with a wire brush. a little rust on them is all right, it will turn to scale and flake off or be ground off during the rough grind of the blade.

“Fire and air, earth and water, were once considered the four elemental substances of our world. Among the ancients only the blacksmith worked with all four.” - From The Art of Blacksmithing by Alex W. Bealer

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thats my dad's name. i am Raymond :D Not a problem. I forgot to mention, if its cold, the vinegar will take longer, so try to keep it in at least a normal room temperature spot to it to do it's stuff

“Fire and air, earth and water, were once considered the four elemental substances of our world. Among the ancients only the blacksmith worked with all four.” - From The Art of Blacksmithing by Alex W. Bealer

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Take a look at the heads of the spikes. Some will have HC on them, this means High Carbon and that means they are more useful. It's not the BEST steel, but at least look for it on the heads.Ones marked MC for Medium Carbon, will not harden as well and therefor not hold an edge as well.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The HC stamped on the heads of the railroad spikes only means that they are high carbon as far as railroad spikes are concerned. They are actually made from medium carbon steel and that barely. They are marginal, at best, for making knives from. I would water quench and temper at about 350°. I don't know what your finances are like but Admiral Steel is up there in Chi Town and you could see about getting some of their 1075/1080 or 5160. Either will make a much better blade. Google them up, they have an online store and shipping should be next to nothing.

 

Doug

HELP...I'm a twenty year old trapped in the body of an old man!!!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I somewhat disagree (respectfully, of course). Railroad spikes, in my opinion, are a great medium for getting started. True, the quality of the steel is mediocre at best, but for learning how steel moves under the hammer, and learning blade profiles, cross section, and bevel angles, they are a great learning tool; plus, for show and art knives, people will pay upwards of $100 dollars for one (I know from personal experience). If your goal is to make high quality edged tools and weaponry, then yes, make the monetary investments into some good steel (there is a horde of information on this site as well as other forums) but practicing on lower quality or milder steels in the forge is a great start.

“Fire and air, earth and water, were once considered the four elemental substances of our world. Among the ancients only the blacksmith worked with all four.” - From The Art of Blacksmithing by Alex W. Bealer

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On top of all the above, I will add that rust makes no difference to a forge. It will all come off as scale on the first heat, so removing it first is just wasting time you could be forging!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Here is the MSDS on R & R Spikes I got this from the R & R Company and I have well over 400 Spikes here at the house

 

there are Two photos here Front and Back of the MSDS

 

http://imgur.com/BBDF6dH,Kj4QhXW

 

This should end any arguments on R & R Spikes I hope .

 

Best Regards

 

Sam

Robert D. Yates , 13 & On Forge

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for the effort, Sam, but the MSDS sheets means next to nothing without the composition being expressed in percentages. Actually I didn't realize that there would even be MSDS sheets on something like railroad spikes but then again the government seems to love useless paperwork. Anyway, around here ending arguments is usually more than can be hoped for.

 

Doug

HELP...I'm a twenty year old trapped in the body of an old man!!!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You know, I find it very funny that one of the only sources of controversy on our remarkably civil and courteous forum is the lowly railroad spike. LOL.

 

If you do a search on the term, you'll find some of the most heated discussions on this topic. Are they high carbon, low carbon, medium carbon, does the HC mean high carbon, etc.

 

Given how infrequently RR spike blades are posted, I find this pretty interesting.

-----------------------------------------------

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly." -- Theodore Roosevelt

http://stephensforge.com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Dave, did you forget about the subject of triple quenching? You've got to have a little controversy or it would be too boring around hear.

 

Doug

HELP...I'm a twenty year old trapped in the body of an old man!!!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for the effort, Sam, but the MSDS sheets means next to nothing without the composition being expressed in percentages. Actually I didn't realize that there would even be MSDS sheets on something like railroad spikes but then again the government seems to love useless paperwork. Anyway, around here ending arguments is usually more than can be hoped for.

 

Doug

Sorry Doug there is a % on page two of my post look again I hope this helps .

Robert D. Yates , 13 & On Forge

Link to comment
Share on other sites

BBDF6dH.jpg

Edited by Samcro

Robert D. Yates , 13 & On Forge

Link to comment
Share on other sites

That one is the Back and here is the front

 

Kj4QhXW.jpg

 

Sorry could not make it in one post I hit the wrong button .

 

Sam

Robert D. Yates , 13 & On Forge

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have made a good number of blades from hc rr spikes. All seemed to harden ok in water.

Tough as nails!! Not 1070 or W2, but they are great things to learn how most steel will work under the hammer. And free, most of the time.

Did I mention they were free!!!! Walk down any RR track for a 100yds, you should find some.
Plus you can make ALL kinds of other stuff out of them.

 

Intresting data Samcro. A little bit of everything !!!!!!
I wonder if anyone has ever used them with some cast iron for a crucible smelt. May be interesting?

 

Edited by Mark Green

Mark Green

 

I have a way? Is that better then a plan?

(cptn. Mal)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Potential Health effects:

Eyes:

May cause irritation. Don't get a railroad spike in the eye.

Ingestion:

Not considered a route of exposure under anticipated product use conditions.

ie. If you manage to ingest a whole railroad spike, you're doing it wrong!

 

I've made some interesting letter openers with them. I'll pick them up if I see one laying around, but I don't seek them out.

http://www.admiralsteel.com/shop/hr1075.html

1075 is a good starter steel. It's simple and inexpensive. Learn how to heat treat the different 10xx steels.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

A good bit of manganese; it should have good hardening at least relative to structural steel. Unfortunately the copper and nickel will increase the toughness at the expense of strength and hardness and probably wear resistance, though it won't start out with much of that.

 

Just as a caution in case someone is around who feels like being picky, going down the railroad right of way and picking up the odd railroad spike is looked on as trespassing and theft in some circles. Where I used to live in Virginia the railroad took up an old spur and posted their piles of old ties asking people to report anyone removing ties or spikes from the old rail bed.

 

Doug

HELP...I'm a twenty year old trapped in the body of an old man!!!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

They give them away here,the old spikes and ties less they have to clean up , the R& R here is owned by a privet Local Co. and they are happy to get rid of them round here .

 

Sam

Robert D. Yates , 13 & On Forge

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
×
×
  • Create New...