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I Forge Iron

Would these railroad “j” clips I found be any good for bladesmithing?


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I would not advise using stolen materials for making a knife. You just publicly posted you stole the material from the Railroads right-of-way,  We prefer people buy their materials for forging,    You risk getting run down by a train or perhaps the RR police doing this.

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Welcome aboard Tater Demon glad to have you. Ditto what Steve just posted. Though I'm not familiar with Canadian law I doubt the RR is less protective of their property there than here. It's not legal to walk on the RR right of way let alone take anything from it.

Then there's point two, Spring clips aren't made to get hard, they're intended to be and stay tough and springy so they're not a great choice for blades. These tend to run around 1040 - 1050 for carbon content. Then there's the cross section, it's not a beginner's task to forge them down without making inclusions.

Buying new known stock isn't particularly expensive, you can have half a dozen small knives worth for about $20 USD, maybe $30. You won't have to guess or experiment to learn how to work with and heat treat a known steel, the knife suppliers send the data sheets with the shipment. Knowing what you have, how to work it and how it'll perform lets you concentrate on learning how to work the material. Forging, grinding and dressing a blade are several non trivial skills sets. Adding to that having to learn how to evaluate a mystery steel is just adding work with limited value.

If you're dead set on using salvaged material, consider coil auto spring, leaf is good stock but flat stock is actually harder to control under the hammer than round. A good source is automotive shops that specialize in custom suspensions. They can't use springs they've taken off new vehicles and it tends to end up in a dumpster. A box of doughnuts and something for the receptionist, say a card holder and you could end up with run of their discards.

Spring is either 5160 or an equivalent. It has enough carbon to harden for blades that take and hold a good edge, they're also more forgiving in the heat treat if you're going to do your own. It contains chrome so forge welding is more difficult but not terrible.


Frosty The Lucky.

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I haven’t got a forge yet (probably in a couple weeks I will) but I’ll use it to make a knife after I’ve done a couple railroad spike knives for practice first. I didn’t know it wasn’t illegal to go on the tracks, thanks! I won’t be doing it anymore because I don’t need to anyway.

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  • 1 month later...

Junk car parts are a beginners friend, tie rods, anti sway bars, axles and springs all yield usable steels for tools, and springs even make servicible knives.  

Tools you can make from said parts (easily) are handled hot and cold cuts from flat spring. A “Z” bottom fuller from round spring, punches, pritchels and drifts from round spring and tie rods. 



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So thes scribbles show a cold cut and hot cut made from flat spring. So first take a piece of round spring and cut off a coil or two, heat and straiten. Forge either a “z” that will set on top of your anvil or a squarish “U” that will set over the face with the arms hanging down. Next cut another piece of round spring and simply straiten it. Now set you bottom fuller on your anvil and heat up the end of your flat spring about 6” or so. Once it gets yellow place it perpendicular to your fuller (about an inch back) and place the other piece of round spring on top the same way, now have some one hit the top spring with your hammer several times to make good dents in the side of the flat spring (if you have an anvil with a hardy hole you cam make a spring fuller and not need help, but traditinaly smithing was done buy teams working together) now if you have let your flat bare cool down below orange, heat it again and put it on edge with the end your holding held up and the tip on the anvil and forge the bare to a blunt taper as shown. This is your striking end. Once done let it cool (do not quench). Now cut it off the bar about 3 inches or so. Now if you have tongs you can forge a blunt chisel edge on your cold cut or a sharper one on your hot cut or just file/ grind them. The cold cut will just need a heavy wire handle twisted on it wile the cold cut needs to be heated up until table salt will melt on it (just a bit hotter than when a magnet won’t stick to it) and the cutting edge quenched  until the striking end turns black then the whole thing quenched. Now polish the cutting end and put the striking end in the fire (no extra air) inutile you see the cutting edge turn light tan then quench it again. Now sharpen. Best to shape both kind of like an axe. 


5160 makes one apretiate 1018...


Now you have two chisels on handles, one for hoot steel and one for cold. Punches and fullers can be made the same way. 

The same thing can be done with large round spring, tie rods or axles, just fuller the grove all the way around. Handled tools keep your friends from hitting you or your anvil when they swing the hammer, and keep your hand away from the heat. 

Later you can make falters, side sets and butchers. 

Now if you have a hardy hole in your anvil a bunch of new tools present them selves, the first is to make another hot cut, but fuller and forge the striking end so it fits diagonal in the hardy hole. If you don’t have a hardy hole draw out the striking end into a blunt spike, drill an undersized hole in your stump and drive it in hot, but not hot enugh to char the wood. Sharpen. Keep a soup can ove this (or othe cover) when not in use for safety. A bottom fuller can be made the same way. 

Forge a bic out if a hunk of axle and you have a compleat anvil and stump tools.


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