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I Forge Iron

RR Spikes? Nah, not always...


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G'day,
I've always had a blade handy, close by or more often carried. It's a tool I can't seem to go without. For a lot of years now it's been in the form of a 'Leatherman' tool (best things since sliced bread) and is constantly used. My office (when I'm not stuck in the one with the computer in it) is the bush, so we're always needing to cut something.

I carried a belt-knife as a kid and made my first one out of a ground down file. That came up pretty good, so had a go at a piece of power saw blade the old man found for me. I copied his Russell belt-knife and ground out the shape and then thinned the blade on a belt sander, before getting the marks out with wet-and-dry. Finished it with buffalo horn handles with brass pins, then made a form fit leather pouch for it. That was a pretty little unit and had it for a lot of years. Don't really know where it went, probably parted company during one of our moves

Well, anyway, it wasn't forged and neither is the carving knife I made for my second eldest as a present. The fork and spoon are though, made from coil spring steel. The knife was cut from a bandsaw blade, a big one. The cut was across, not along the bandsaw blade. I got a couple of 4' pieces during a visit to southern WA, where the mill is.
post-25292-0-76853100-1339637388_thumb.j

Which brings us to the dreaded RR spikes. My first go at blade forging is this one
post-25292-0-14557800-1339637499_thumb.j

Then I read on here, how crap RR spike steel is for blades, and only good for letter openers, so I made some letter openers for my two youngest daughters
post-25292-0-62761700-1339637653_thumb.j

and then the two older ones wanted one as well, so knocked up one each for them and one to send to an Uncle
post-25292-0-30734700-1339637836_thumb.j

I know a lot of folk on here are sick of spikes, but I find something nice about creating a functional thing from an old spike

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i hear ya, the ting about spikes is they are not that crappy, you just have to sharpen them more. and they are not as consistent in carbon content as most blade steels but still get the job done. if a blacksmith of old needed to get a blade of some sort made i'm sure he would us one, yes there might be better material but you use what you have. oh i think your stuff looks great.

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Thanks Matto, I agree, and I'm a big believer in using what is at hand....
Thanks Chris, I wouldn't either. The steel may be concidered inferior for blades, but I can still get these to a hair-shaving edge. Just may not hold it as long as better steel.
"I too enjoy giving a old spike a second life so to speak" Hah!, Mate, you don't just give them a second life, you make the buggers Imortal! :D

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Well the blacksmith of old wouldn't have HC spikes around as they date to "modern" times and the use of spike driving machines---he'd have used an old file or horse shoeing rasp...

But the HC spikes compare fairly well with many early medieval blades in carbon content---though the medieval ones tended to have those higher carbon edges forge welded to a wrought iron body.

Now the rail clips generally have about twice the carbon content of an HC spike and "occur in the same general areas" so to speak...

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Well the blacksmith of old wouldn't have HC spikes around as they date to "modern" times and the use of spike driving machines---he'd have used an old file or horse shoeing rasp...

But the HC spikes compare fairly well with many early medieval blades in carbon content---though the medieval ones tended to have those higher carbon edges forge welded to a wrought iron body.

Now the rail clips generally have about twice the carbon content of an HC spike and "occur in the same general areas" so to speak...
Hi Thomas
Like this one i made a while ago wrought iron wraped body with file welded in for cutting edge

post-25508-0-78357400-1339793385_thumb.j

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That is nice Chris, simple, functional blade.

Well, it would seem the time of the 'Forge' weld is apon me. Think I'll spend this weekend trying to stick bits of steel together. Seeing all the great axes, 'hawks, sculptures, etc that people have produced, incorporating forge welds has brought it on and it's time to get it right. I have tried...and failed, so read all I can on here about forge welding and then go and arc up the forge. (well, not read all I can on here, otherwise I'd still be reading come Monday :blink:)

BTW, what's the opinion of using bearing-race steel as a cutting edge? good/bad/too hard/great/brittle?

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I have a friend who was a metallurgist for a large bearing company over here and he said that small bearings generally had races of stuff like 52100, excellent material for blades but that large bearings were often case hardened 9620 (IIRC) and so not very good material. I wish I could remember the size cut off...

So spark test the *interior* of a large race before using!

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I have a friend who was a metallurgist for a large bearing company over here and he said that small bearings generally had races of stuff like 52100, excellent material for blades but that large bearings were often case hardened 9620 (IIRC) and so not very good material. I wish I could remember the size cut off...

So spark test the *interior* of a large race before using!
Hi Thomas your dead right, fell for that early in the piece forged 2 folder blades out of bearings couldnt under stand why they wouldnt harden
didnt know they did them the crapy way , Check every thing i use now .the old saying once bitten.
Chris
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I have a friend who was a metallurgist for a large bearing company over here and he said that small bearings generally had races of stuff like 52100, excellent material for blades but that large bearings were often case hardened 9620 (IIRC) and so not very good material. I wish I could remember the size cut off...

So spark test the *interior* of a large race before using!


Glad to know that about the bearing races. I recently picked up some larger ones from work. I'll test them before I use them. If they aren't great quality on their own, I may try to use them in some damascus.

BTW: those are some great looking untensils from spikes.
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Thanks Ecart, appreciated. Thomas, that's good info, thanks. Would be a big disapointment to go though the proccess and develop a nice blade just to find the material is crud, at the end....

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