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  #1  
Old 07-17-2008, 10:22 PM
Don G Don G is offline
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Default Railroad spikes

Hi Folks,

Have been lurking here for awhile. Now that I have retired from my desk job I am getting a little time to do what I really enjoy. Bought a MIG and OXY setup and am starting to do some projects. What I need to know now is if a standard, modern railroad spike can be hardened. If it can, what is the process for doing that.

Thanks in advance for your help.

Don
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  #2  
Old 07-18-2008, 05:53 AM
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I've seen a lot of nice knives made out of RR spikes.
Here's one example:
http://bronksknifeworks.com/railroad-spike.htm
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Old 07-18-2008, 10:15 AM
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The spikes marked "HC" have a minimum carbon content of 0.3% according to AREA specifications. If you are lucky, maybe you'll find some closer to 0.4. They can be slightly hardened, but do not make good knives.

As for hardening steel: http://www.anvilfire.com/FAQs/heattreating.htm
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Old 07-18-2008, 07:58 PM
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Bob Warner Bob Warner is offline
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You will not have any luck hardening railroad spikes.

What is your application? If you are making knives, they are pretty cool mantle pieces but not much more.

If you want to make a railroad spike knife that has knife quality steel in it you will have to make your own spike out of good steel. I made a railroad spike out of steel I made myself.

1. I took five pieces each of two different quality knife steels and forge welded them together, then twisted them and forged them into the shape of a railroad spike. I then make the knife below from that railroad spike.

Here are a couple more to look at:
2. Clean blade, handle left with scale on it:

3. Entire knife cleaned and polished:
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  #5  
Old 07-18-2008, 08:08 PM
Don G Don G is offline
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Well do I feel inadequate!!!. Those knives are beautiful!

I was just going to try to harden it a bit to make a chipping hammer for welding slag. Thought it would be a little different, but mostly just wanted to experiment (read: play around) with my torch and see what I could do.

Thanks to the others for their responses and the links. They are very informative.

Don
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  #6  
Old 07-18-2008, 08:40 PM
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No!!!! No need to feel inadequate. You did not state what you wanted to do and that is why I asked your application.

It is my experience that everyone that has ever asked about hardening railroad spikes was wanting to make knives out of them, that is why I went that way.

Most people are disappointed that the steel cannot be hardened so I show them that they can make a railroad spike knife that is of good steel. Just trying to give a direction that is all.

As for your chipping hammer. After a while the point will mushroom because the steel will just not be hard enough to resist it. I suggest making it out of leaf springs, coil springs or other "Spring" material. Mine is a rock hammer, 3/4" square on the hammer end and pointed on Um the, UH, on the pointed end.

If you were to use a spring steel the process is as follows:

Get at least a gallon of oil (transmission fluid is what I use) and heat it to about 125 degrees. Heat your chipping hammer point until it starts to get red. Periodically touch it to a magnet. As soon as the point is hot enough it will stop being attracted to the magnet. You want to heat the point and get it just barely past the point of being attracted to the magnet. When you get to that point, you very quickly put the entire head of the hammer, point first into the oil. Since the steel is hot it may start a fire on the oil so be prepared for that but it will go out on its own in a few seconds. Leave the hammer in there until it is cool to the touch, a minute or so.

Take it into the house and wash it with soap and water to remove the oil. then put it into the oven at 425 degrees for about an hour.

That should make you a decent chipping hammer. Now, depending on the steel you use the process could change and make a better chipping hammer but you have to know what type of steel it is to heat treat and temper it correctly.

If I can help, just say the word.

Bob
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  #7  
Old 07-18-2008, 10:18 PM
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Those really are gorgeous, Bob but the same posting rules as always still apply.
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  #8  
Old 07-18-2008, 10:37 PM
snair snair is offline
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very nice looking knife
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  #9  
Old 07-18-2008, 11:03 PM
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OOPS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sorry for the post screwup.
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  #10  
Old 07-18-2008, 11:10 PM
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Well they're truly beautiful knives, Bob and thank you for posting them & for helping out.
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