German_Forge

Railroad Spike Tomahawk

Recommended Posts

So looks like this is a pretty empty room but I'll toss something up.

I've been using RR spikes as a learning tool and so far it's been an inexpensive way to bang on some metal.

A question I have for the group - I see a lot of "RR Spike Tomahawk" videos but for the life of me, I cannot figure out how they get the metal to work with. I am attaching a picture of a RR spike I was upsetting the metal on to get the meat for the blade. Any advice is appreciated.

 

IMG_2468.JPG

IMG_2470.JPG

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

First you want to slit as close to the head as possible, second make sure you slit the eye wide enough so it dosnt stretch much so you can forge the eye out on your eye punch to thin it and widen the flanges. Second use a fuller or directional pein to forge the spike sideways to widen and thin the blade. Most folks go ahead and upset the chisel point back into the spike because it's orentated wrong and would have to be cut off otherwise. To do this first convert it to a 4 sided point insted of a chisel, next isolate the heat to just an inch and a half or so (a bit of water to the back half) now start your upset with your tongs against your thy and the spike end off the fare side of the anvil, when you have pounded the point back to about a 3/8" flat take another heat, isolate and set the blunt point on the anvil and finish driving it back into the spike. Turning it around and straining it on the anvil to avoid curving it (it won't upset that way only continue to bend). Now many " bag axes" and tomahawks weren't but about 6" long (not counting a back spike or hammer pal) so you have plenty of meat to work with, just draw it out sideways before drawing it out length wise wile thinning the blade. 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It depends a lot on the style you're going for. You can use the head for the blade portion and just use your cross pein to move the metal into the direction you need it to go. I guess you could try to upset just below the head to get a little more mass for moving/shaping.

If you want to leave the head intact and use the spike end for the blade, maybe just fold an inch or so beyond the point over at a 90 degree bend, then draw out the shape using the cross pein.

Either way you go, it would probably be easier in the long run if you slit the shank for the future handle hole before you start shaping the blade.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
14 hours ago, Charles R. Stevens said:

First you want to slit as close to the head as possible, second make sure you slit the eye wide enough so it dosnt stretch much so you can forge the eye out on your eye punch to thin it and widen the flanges. Second use a fuller or directional pein to forge the spike sideways to widen and thin the blade. Most folks go ahead and upset the chisel point back into the spike because it's orentated wrong and would have to be cut off otherwise. To do this first convert it to a 4 sided point insted of a chisel, next isolate the heat to just an inch and a half or so (a bit of water to the back half) now start your upset with your tongs against your thy and the spike end off the fare side of the anvil, when you have pounded the point back to about a 3/8" flat take another heat, isolate and set the blunt point on the anvil and finish driving it back into the spike. Turning it around and straining it on the anvil to avoid curving it (it won't upset that way only continue to bend). Now many " bag axes" and tomahawks weren't but about 6" long (not counting a back spike or hammer pal) so you have plenty of meat to work with, just draw it out sideways before drawing it out length wise wile thinning the blade. 

 

Thanks Charles! I'll keep this in mind for the next one. I suppose my current spike still has some good meat on it but seems like a tangled mess right now.

14 hours ago, JME1149 said:

If you want to leave the head intact and use the spike end for the blade, maybe just fold an inch or so beyond the point over at a 90 degree bend, then draw out the shape using the cross pein.

That was my original intent was to leave the head intact and then it would be sort of like a hammer and still pay tribute to the original RR spike. However, as you can see, my process to upset just seems like a hot mess (no pun intended).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

With a gull wing blade and a back spike you really just need to move the slit back tord the spike and flatten the spike a bit (say 3/4 of an inch thick) why upset just to draw out again. But then you loose the "hey that's a rail spike" moment

Just straiten the spike, the only mistake I see is you didn't corect the bend as it was happening and you upset it more than you needed to. Honestly the only real reason to upset the spike is to get rid of the chisel point, once that's done, quit.

Another trick is to forge weld a piece of medium carbon steel. This is " steeling" an axe. Several ways to do this, but if you draw out your axe shape (not to thin just yet as thin stock is harder to weld than thick). At this point you can weld a piece to one side and forge it out, or fold a pice and weld it ove and  forge it out, or spit the end a bit (it's a small axe so 1/4" is sufficient) and then forge a wedge and weld it in. But that's a lesson yet to learn. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8 hours ago, Charles R. Stevens said:

Just straiten the spike, the only mistake I see is you didn't corect the bend as it was happening and you upset it more than you needed to. Honestly the only real reason to upset the spike is to get rid of the chisel point, once that's done, quit.

Great tip - I will try this next time. I think I'm still learning how much metal I need to draw out for the final product so I feel I never have enough.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.