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I Forge Iron

What kind of scrap do you use to make tools?


Ife12008

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I picked up a box of hammers and ax heads, wood splitting wedges, at an auction this weekend with the intent of forging them into hardies, drifts and punches. I was wondering what other types of scrap or everyday items other use to make thier tools and if the items i have will work for tools?

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I think lots of us, including me, use coil and leaf springs and axles for personal shop tools. However, I don't make tools that I sell out of scrap steel. You run into the problem of possible tool failure. Also, the tool may be successful, but made out of a 1959 Plymouth torsion bar. So the guy comes back two years later and says he loves that digging bar and wants another one just like it. That puts you in a position of finding another '59 Plymouth. Lots of luck. When selling a tool, it should be forged of a known steel.

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PTO shafting (this is square and rectangle) works well. So does sucker rod. Like Frank said, spring stock. Power transmission shafting (lift truck internal parts). Have never used axle stock but would work well. If you connected to tool and die folks, get some sample blocks they may have hanging around ( these blocks would be sexed specifically to alloy ). Depending on the tooling, I use mild steel for lotta things. Bed rail is hard stuff. Stainless is hard stuff and will weld nicely. Broken hex keys ( allen wrenches). I have made few tools for other folks but when I have it was more than likely described as " mystery meat " unless it was apparent that it was ( example sucker rod end ) from a known source.

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Well I generally look at my pile and choose the item that's closest to the final form already. If I plan to make a handled tool generally I'll go to my bucket of ballpeens + other "scrap" hammers.

However for things like slitters and punches I tend to go with S-1, H-13 or S-7 and keep a limited supply of those alloys to hand, (whenever I find a great deal on them or can barter for them at a conference I pick them up)

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Thanks guys. Frank i agree with you 100%, i should have been more specific i dont have the skills yet to consider making tools for other. I was curious if my thinking was correct that i could use old hammer and ax head for my first tools. There were several items mentioned that i runs across at kansas farm auctions that i will be picking up for future projects.

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I hit flea markets and junk shops and look for old files, chisels, punches, and spring stock etc.. that I can rework into the tools I need. I personaly find it more benificial to start with something that is already basicaly shapped like the tool I want, and at prices from 30 cents to a dollar for a broken tool I can afford it.

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I like pandrol clips. They are 5160 steel as far as I know. I find them wile walking the tracks. The RR by me just leaves the used ones on the side of the tracks. Its good for small punches chisels and such. harden cherry red Temper it brown to cut steel cold. I have never had a problem with RR personnel, police etc wile collecting them. I only take the old rusty ones left by the side. I also like fork lift blades. It is something in the 4140 department I have heard it called C40 as well. I quench it in a fast oil. I have made swages from this steel that produced hundreds of parts. Its great for non edge holding tools fullers swages hammers and the like. Jackhammer bits are mostly 1045 I find them good for smaller hammers repousse stakes and like tools. I dont like 1045 for hot cuts though some do I find it too soft. Axles are mostly 4014, 1045 and similar med carbon steel stay safe and quench axles in oil. If it don't get hard then go to water. Road grader blade is tough and a good edge holding steel no idea what kind of steel it is. Quenched in water it gets glass hard with a fine grain it will scratch my hardened anvil face. It has poor hot working quality's but it is great for edge tools I also use it for bolster plates because it comes in flat bars 5/8" to 3/4" . Its gets super hard and it is a very tough steel as well. This is all my personal experience others may have different opinions.

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Ive used just about everything mentioned, in addition since automotive scrap is quite common, Ive used tie rods from rack and pinion steering, even the inner tie rod end to make a body hammer or ball end punch, or the shaft from shock absorbers or struts, though you should take caution if they are chrome plated, but deffinaty coil spring, crow bars and jack hammer bits for tooling, one of my favorites is folded axe heads from farriers rasps

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From my RR steel file:

From Matt B 08/08/2007 12:10:21 EDT
"The current standard for rail anchors is 1040-1060 steel, depending upon manufacturer."

----------------------------------------------------
MattBower
Location: Northern Virginia
I had a rail anchor -- probably from Unit -- analyzed recently. Here's the chemical breakdown:

C: 0.51 | Mn: 0.80 | P: 0.01 | S: 0.03 | Si: 0.18 | Cu: 0.24 | Cr: 0.07 | Mo: 0.02 | Ni: 0.07 | Sn: 0.010 | V: 0.002 | Cb/Nb: 0.015

And another analysis:
Rail Aanchor Nicholson File
C **0.63 ***0.94
Mn *0.79 ***0.37
P **0.008 **0.014
S **0.027 **0.053
Si**0.20 ***0.25
Cu *0.24 ***0.01
Cr *0.13 ***0.22
Mo *0.02 ***0.003
Ni *0.08 ***0.02
Sn *0.009 **0.005
Nb(Cb)*0.026 **00
V **0.004

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... Can't you in effect use anything steel or iron to make a specified tool(s)? Its all forgable some harder than others to forge, others harden harder. The best thing thats easy to find for me are RR spikes, old files (usually by the bucket), the occasional 2-man saw at auction for knife steel, old fashion sheep sheers, sucker rod drops from a p.i.c. (partner in crime, aka another finder), and various other tool parts, and tractor axle.

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You know there are dozens of types of "rail anchors" But the ones I find in most of the north east on the commuter lines are Pandrol clips.


This is a matter of terminology. Pandrol calls what they make "e-clips." Among manufacturers, the term "rail anchor" seems to refer to these:

Rail-Anchor.jpg

A while back I emailed one of the manufacturers of those things. According to that manufacturer, there are only two companies in the U.S. currently making them. The "1040-1060" comment, above, refers to these. That info fits with the two anchors (both of the general style shown above) that I have had analyzed. YMMV.
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Whenever I find an old pick ax cheap I will usually pick it up. I have used the working ends for puches and chisles but the real reasion I pick them up is that the big eye offers a easy conversion for some pretty neat leaf stakes.

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  • 2 months later...

This is a matter of terminology. Pandrol calls what they make "e-clips." Among manufacturers, the term "rail anchor" seems to refer to these:


I found a couple of these while picking up RR spikes the other day. I almost left them as they were bulkier than a spike and more twisted. Guess I ought to reconsider...

Went out today and bought a couple coil springs from a junkyard. The guy let me have them both for $10. I'm not sure if that is a good price or not but they look like they have enough length once I cut it up to make a variety of chisels, punches and and some hardie tools that I need to make. He also gave me a couple valve lifters and a valve to play with.

Being a complete newbie, I have some hammers but nothing else really. The one actual punch I have (manufactured) is a little 4 incher for marking.
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