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flyguy8555

Homemade Hardy from a railroad spike?

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I'm new to blacksmithing - took a class at North House Folk School this fall, and when I got home I got busy setting up shop. I have a chunk of railroad track for an anvil, a small sledgehammer to beat with, and I made a brakedrum forge. I'm learning as I go (with substantial help from this forum), and I'd like to make some sort of a cutoff tool. I got ahold of a few old railroad spikes, and I'm considering using one to make a cutoff hardy and mount it to the stump I have the "anvil" on. Any thought or advice will be appreciated.

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Blacksmithing is very much a learn as you go hobby.  You'll start small and as your skill grows so too does you tools.  You can make a hardie from that spike, it probably wont last to long but will be functional.  Just dont mount it permanently, you'll need to "sharpen" it quite frequently. 

 

Look forward to seeing your progress.

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I was planning on boring a hole in the top of the stump, squaring it up with a chisel, and cutting the head off the spike so it would fit in the hole. I'll make the square hole tight so I have to beat the spike into place. Another question - should I harden and temper the spike? I'm told that spikes are medium carbon steel, how hard do I want the finished tool to be?

 

I was also thinking about making a hot chisel out of one of the spikes - worth the effort, or should I be looking at another kind of steel for this?

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RR spikes, even the ones marked HC, are pretty low in carbon for a hardy.  The sort of "&" shaped Rail Clips have almost double the carbon content of a spike as does most automotive leaf and coil springs and I would suggest using one of them instead.

 

The highest carbon RR spikes are at the lowest, 30 points, value for medium carbon steel AT THE MAX!

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I made a cut-off hardie from an old mason's brick chisel.  Found one at a junk shop for $1.  The original edge was badly chipped and dented. I carefully ground the edge to a curve, put an edge on it and had a neat cut-off for cheap.  The handle is hex and perfectly fit my 1" hardie hole.

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Cool! I picked up a couple of those too - thinking I could use one to make a bending jig. I'll get to work on it. I scored a couple of coil springs this week while dumpster-diving, and have made a knife so far. Next is a set of decent tongs (right now I'm using vise-grips).

 

Sooo . . . is there anything useful I can make out of the spikes? Otherwise they're outa here. I have the coil springs, and a couple of lawn mower blades, which I'm told are fairly high-carbon steel.

 

BTW, thanks for the good intel - having folks like you to brainstorm with is a godsend.

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Better than mild and not as good as high alloy (S-7, H13, etc)

 

I make tent stakes from RR spikes and my pastor wants to make some large nails for Easter...

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My only comment is a safety concern. Having a permanent hot cut sticking up near an anvil might be a recipe for a serious injury, depending on where it's located. If nothing else I'd think about setting it up so it's removable, or at least make a cover for it.

 

 

I know a couple of guys who have lost fingers, not from a hot cut, but from a moment of distraction working with other tools. I can guarantee they all wished they'd been a bit more careful and thought a bit 1st.

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My only comment is a safety concern. Having a permanent hot cut sticking up near an anvil might be a recipe for a serious injury, depending on where it's located. If nothing else I'd think about setting it up so it's removable, or at least make a cover for it.

 

 

I know a couple of guys who have lost fingers, not from a hot cut, but from a moment of distraction working with other tools. I can guarantee they all wished they'd been a bit more careful and thought a bit 1st.

That's a valid point - I think I'll figure a way to make it removable. Maybe get a small piece of square tubing and line the hole with it - then I could just drop it in like the Hardie hole on an anvil.

Also, Arkie, good idea about using a masons chisel - I have one in the toolbox that hasn't moved in years. Time for it to earn it's keep.

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I was sort of thinking the same thing. If you want, you can weld a plate around the tube so you can still transfer a lot of load to the stump, and still make the tool easy to remove.

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I know this is an old post. I am in the same boat, just starting out. I have a plate from rail road tracks. the plate that the track sits on. its already got the square holes in it. what I was planning on doing was put spikes through three holes to hold it down and then cut off the top of a rail road spike and use it to stick in the hole then I could weld what ever type of hardy tool I needed on top of old spikes. Not necessarily use the spike as the tool but the square to put in the hole. is there any concern with doing this or do you guys think this would work out.

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Welcome to IFI Dwithrow84. Have you read this yet? READ THIS FIRST

I'm not fond of welded hardy tools but your idea would probably work. The few I have made eventually had to be re-welded after pounding on them. Of course that was at a time when I didn't have a very good welder or welding experience.:lol:

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Thanks Irondragon Forge & Clay for the heads up. I just updated my profile. I'm also a little worried about having to re-weld the tools, I only have a flux-core welder but usually get pretty good welds with it. I figure I could give it a try if it works, it works but can't hurt to try. I forged my first knife just this week and I've been so anxious to just get back into the forge.

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