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I Forge Iron

My second project, a hatchet from a rail spike!

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Today I worked my tail off trying to figure out how to make a hatchet out of a railroad spike.  I am a GREEN novice at all this and wanted to share my finished product.  Monday I made a simple knife in my forge/foundry, but I was not satisfied with the amount of heat I was able to get.  I went to my land today and built a big fire in a fire barrel and used that to heat my spikes.  I am not sure if I did everything correctly but it looks right.  It is not perfectly straight or symmetrical, but that finesse will come with experience.  My original posting got deleted I am guessing because I linked to the  Third party links removed.

Check out my pictures!


Thanks for looking, Bradley





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I am not one to critique as I am not even a novice.  It doesn't look too bad as far as aesthetics. As an idea should you decide to make another: Hammer out the spike end and keep the peg end. See where your artistry takes you then. Maybe heating the peg end and twisting it for looks? I don't know I'm merely just giving my opinion. As I said before I have never forged in my life and only giving my opinion.

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For a 2nd project I'm impressed, especially if you did the eye solo!  These are fun to make, though more fun if you have a helper to hold it while you're slitting & drifting the eye.  I have a hold down, but it doesn't work as well as having someone hold it with tongs.  When I do them I keep the head of the spike, upset the spike end and lately I started forge welding a bit of old file onto that end so it will hold an edge better.  If you search on anvilfire you should find the steps that I follow.


This is a picture of the first spike hawk that I did.  My profile pic is of the first successful forge weld that I made.


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Dan your hatchet is awesome!  I was flying solo when I holed the spike.  I will tell you that even with gloves, that thing was HOT.  I had to heat it multiple times, but finally I got my cold chisel driven through enough where I could start driving a tapered round rod into the hole and bashing it on the anvil to smooth the inside(where I had just run the rectangular chisel).  I am really picking up fast on this and learning so much.  I think I would learn faster if I had some tongs.  Now, I am using channel lock pliers :/.


Question:  to use a hard steel like a file blade for the tip of a knife, or a hatchet, do I first anneal it so that I can flatten it down, then weld it, then re harden, temper, in that order?  Or is it more involved than that?  Thanks guys!

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Using tongs will not only be much easier & faster, but it's also much safer.  Last thing you want to do is to have to dodge a glowing piece of steel flying thru the air because you didn't have a good grasp on it.   Google "dempsey twist tongs" which is the method I've used or search for "Ken's Custom Iron Quick Tongs"  I haven't tried the quick tongs, but it would seem like a good option for someone new.


Here's what I did, right or wrong.  When forge welding the bit of file onto the end I first upset & squared up the end of the spike, cooled it just so I wouldn't burn myself then locked it in my post vise.  Then I took the piece of file, heated it to orange and shaped it into a U-shape to fit on the end of the spike.  I have a jack hammer bit I forged into a bickern that helps make the tight radius'.  Once it's shaped to fit onto the spike I tack weld it w/ my arc welder.  Once that's all done I proceed to forge weld, which I would recommend learning how to do first which I'm still learning as well.  You'd be best off reading what's already out here than me telling you how I did it, or even better going to a local ABANA group and have someone show you.


I don't anneal it at any point, but after I forge it into the hatchet I'll normalize 2-3 times, harden it in oil and then temper to a purple in the kitchen oven.  If I was making a spike hawk w/o the bit of file welded into the end I'd harden it in ice water and then put it in the oven at 350' for an hour only to relieve stresses, but not temper since even the HC spikes aren't that high in carbon.

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