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Hello all,

 

Just started blacksmithing and so far have a simple firerake/prod finished and a pair of tongs mostly finished (going to add some bends to the reigns and grip to the mouth tomorrow). I'm using a very ghetto set-up at the moment, consisting of a brakedrum & castiron-sewage-pipetee forge and converted-vacuum-blower, but it seems to work well enough (getting to yellow-orange glow so far).

 

I understand that RR spikes generally make inferior blades even with superquenching, but a project I had in mind since starting with smithing was to make a soil knife or "hori hori" like tool with one.  It'd basically be a modified garden trowl, used to dig up small plants, plant bulbs, and possibly cut a few roots or stems.  Do you all think a "HC" marked spike would be decent for this purpose?

 

Also, I have another spike marked only with "C" (Copper?).  Would this spike be useful for makeing a hotcut tool or a punch?

 

Thank you all for your time.

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A spike should be fine for the garden tool.Look up dcraven here....I believe he has made garden tools from spikes.I would use a better steel for the hotcut or punch though.Automobile coil springs are good and easily accessible choice.

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  American Railway Engineering Association's Specifications for Soft-Steel Track Spikes. Original document, 1926, revised last in 1968

 

 Page 5-2-2 Section 11. Marking. A letter or brand indicating the manufacturer shall be pressed on the head of each spike while it is being formed. When copper is specified, the letters "CU" shall be added

 

Page 5-2-5 Section 11. Marking: A letter or brand indicating manufacturer and also the letters "HC" indicating high carbon, shall be pressed on the head of each spike while it is being formed. When copper is specified, the letters "CU" shall be added."

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I make a lot of these as they are one of my best sellers, trowels, cultivators & weeders.  Those and bottle openers.  True you could get better steel as suggested, the carbon in the HC ones is at best 40-45 point which is below what you want for a knife blade.  I haven't had any gardening tools come back for any reason, whereas I did have a knife or letter opener come back, which I later quenched in ice water and then didn't temper.  Next time I'll let them bake in the oven at 325 for an hour just to relieve the stresses, but not enough to temper. 

 

Anything you make is going to be far superior to what someone is going to be able to buy in a store, and people like the novelty of them being a reclaimed RR spike.  Just make sure you are getting them legitimately.  It's very easy to make contacts with the railway workers who will then let you have them for free, or often times I exchange a knife or bottle openers for spikes. 

 

Welcome to the group btw!  My forge is a brakedrum forge as well, with a squirrel cage as a blower.

 

Dan

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I make a lot of these as they are one of my best sellers, trowels, cultivators & weeders.  Those and bottle openers.  True you could get better steel as suggested, the carbon in the HC ones is at best 40-45 point which is below what you want for a knife blade.

I have never heard of any stock RR spike with over 35% carbon.   I assume that was a typo? or else you have a test  for one showing that high amount?  people forget that a spike is a glorified nail,  high carbon content would not be a good thing for holding tracks.

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Back to the point,,,,I think they will do wot you wish in fine form....i made a drag to pull with garden tractor,,,over a decade ago,,the framework has five rr spikes sticking down,,and I put weights on top of the whole thing,,as I pull they dig into earth and loosen it up. They have never worn to the needing attention point,,,,

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nope, repeating an error dont make it true. 0.35 is tops for spikes and we need at least 0.30 to harden noticably.  I would agree that 45 points can harden a bit.   But many dont stop to think that high carbon for a nail is not the same as high carbon for a knife, its a relative term.  105F is high temp for a human but low temp for forging steel, as an example.  But garden trowel is a good use for them they take a beating well, and do the job. and I bet its faster to make the trowel than a knife shaped object.

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I have made a set of miniature forming stakes out of RR spikes and did and oil quench on them and they seem to be holding up well to my forming copper and brass sheet over them along with some of the heavier gauges of wire. Lots cheaper than commercial miniature stakes and will out live me so I guess they were a bargain.

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interesting specs Sam,,thanks...I would have thought that they had at least some carbon in them...and I am not sure how they included carbon dioxide....

 

Carbon dioxide is the Scientific composition is a Gaseous form of Carbon that is in a powder form when introduced to the forging process of the spike. so it is Pure Carbon .  as to the reference of the MSDS that is how they show carbon in the elements for the Hazard material in the composition  .

 

As per information from a phone call I made to Ameristeel to provide an answer to your question.

 

Sam

Edited by samcro
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This is an important point Sam and why a person can NOT rely on MSDS for material specs. Their mandate isn't about accurate ingredients, it's about dangerous quantities including elements or compounds that MIGHT occur as  result of a particular situation.

 

For instance the MSDS for table salt shouldn't be too interesting but adding a little HCL and its a whole different thing, think chlorine gas badness. I don't know if there is a MSDS for table salt but that's the kind of situation they MUST take into account and report.

 

The MSDS lists most of the elements in steels because in some situations they become dangerous environmental hazards. Simply arc welding exposes you to a soup of dangerous vapors: iron, vanadium, manganese, molybdenum, chrome, lead, etc. in some situations almost everything you find in steel can be toxic so they list it and the % numbers are often the reportable quantities, not % content.

 

Yeah, I know, I'm rambling again and undoubtedly wrong on some issues, it's been a good 25 years since I studied and tested for my hazmat spill response certs and CDL hazmat endorsement. Just part of being one of your friendly local state DOT, soils lab, Highways maintenance or HQ Materials, geology section guys. Have you ever noticed what vehicles and who are responding during evacuations, material spills and generally NASTY happenings like tornadoes, refinery fires, tanker spills, etc?

 

Err on the side of caution.

 

Frosty The Lucky.

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I googled carbon ioxide powder to see if all my years of schooling had left something ouit...it does say that common baking powder used in cooking releases carbon dioxde,,a gas,,,However I do not see how that would add carbon to a steel mixture...I hope that someone like Quenchcrack or maybe Frosty can clear my  mind here,,,,

I often look up data sheets for various steels and they list carbon content.

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Thank you Frosty , you covered it , the company did not reveal How they introduced the Carbon content to the mix other then stating what I posted . Trade / Manufacturing secrets I would guess . yet the carbon content remains the same .030 to .035 is the maxim they would guarantee give /or take a point or two of carbon content . 

 

Sam  

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  • 1 year later...

I make a lot of these as they are one of my best sellers, trowels, cultivators & weeders.  Those and bottle openers.  True you could get better steel as suggested, the carbon in the HC ones is at best 40-45 point which is below what you want for a knife blade.  I haven't had any gardening tools come back for any reason, whereas I did have a knife or letter opener come back, which I later quenched in ice water and then didn't temper.  Next time I'll let them bake in the oven at 325 for an hour just to relieve the stresses, but not enough to temper. 

 

Anything you make is going to be far superior to what someone is going to be able to buy in a store, and people like the novelty of them being a reclaimed RR spike.  Just make sure you are getting them legitimately.  It's very easy to make contacts with the railway workers who will then let you have them for free, or often times I exchange a knife or bottle openers for spikes. 

 

Welcome to the group btw!  My forge is a brakedrum forge as well, with a squirrel cage as a blower.

 

Dan

 

 

I made a few garden trowels out of a railroad spikes.  My wife has used them in her garden and loves them

 

 

attachicon.giftrowel.jpg

 

 

Those are some fine looking garden tools gentlemen! It seems like RR spikes would be a reasonable choice for rugged outdoor tools. 

 

Robert

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