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Old 11-21-2009, 06:21 PM
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Default What Kind Of Shit Is Bed Frame Rails Made Of

Again I ask, what kind of shit is bed frame rails made from. Today a friend who also does machining, called and needed a 11/16" end mill, so I gave him one, it wouldn't cut, being it was a new cheap Chinese cutter, it didn't really shock me. I then lent him some 11/16" annular cutters and the R8 arbor, 3 cutters and one complete hole, so now I'm trying to figure what the hell is going on, he then lets it slip that the pieces are made of bed frame rails. So $90 in cutter down the drain, and his project is still unfinished. He is going to pay to have the cutters resharpened, if possible, and replace them if not. As I'm about to leave I see about 8 drills bits with the points burnt right off. I've read that they are made of mainly crap steel and what ever also happens to be laying around (sort like the recipe for hot dogs). This stuff is junk. It welds like total shit and stinks when welded, but I finding it hard to believe it that hard to drill. I know it has to do with carbide inclusions, slag inclusions or some other kind of inclusion, but it just junk to work with. Since I've rarely used it for anything, this is a somewhat new experience for me and I hope to never have to use it again.


Last edited by platypus20; 11-22-2009 at 12:48 PM.
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Old 11-21-2009, 06:34 PM
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I dont know just what they are made of, but they are notorius for being harder than woodpecker lips. Everything I have read says that they are only good for bed rails and nothing else.
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Old 11-21-2009, 06:43 PM
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It's not unusual for bed frame rails to be made of rerolled railroad track steel. So figure moderately high carbon (or carbon equivalent) and wear resistant. Same stuff shows up in fence posts and similar low-dollar steel items.

Here's an outfit that makes this kind of stuff:

Look at the typical analysis:

For welding, preheat, use low-hydrogen and post-heat/slow cool down should do the trick.
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Old 11-21-2009, 07:17 PM
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If someone gave it to you it is too expensive to use.
You do the best you can with what you've got.
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Old 11-21-2009, 07:36 PM
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Was he trying to drill near a weld, Jack? The last project I did with it, needed some holes drilled after I had welded it up. The holes were about three inches away from the welds and even with carbide, I had a hell of a time getting through it.

Funny thing is, it sawed just fine, before I welded the project together. I guess a little heat treating went on.

I've made a lot of stuff from bed rails over the years and usually, don't have a problem with it. I know a lot of people cuss up and down about it. I don't have any steel suppliers near me so, I use what I can scrounge. I don't borrow other people's tools to work it, though.

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Old 11-21-2009, 07:36 PM
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If it's called bed rails, it's "crap steel". If it's called "high carbon" or spring steel or AR you'd pay more for it.

Face it, if you can't mill it or drill it it may be better stuff than your tools. Not particularly weldable, but useful if properly applied.
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Old 11-21-2009, 08:01 PM
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We've been having similar discussions of bed rail properties since the 2004 at least.
Art Benjamin, metallurgist and engineer just says "don't screw with them" in so many words. It seems to be some sort of hardening process compounded by using a wide range of cheapest currently available scrap. I could probably search out his comments in an hour or two.

Best I can remember:
They are formulated to yield maximum rigidity vs thickness and weight so they can be effective weight bearing frames in lightweight assemblies. They're good for little else and should never be used for critical welded assemblies.
They are riveted together for good reasons, never welded because the beads can separate at any moment without warning.
That should be clue enough.
Besides that, they will ruin your drill bits and they can break teeth off your blades. Junk.
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Old 11-21-2009, 08:03 PM
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Maybe your friend got hold of a set of bed rails that were "WORK" Hardened.
Nothin's hard-Just some things take longer than others.

Too much to list.
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Old 11-21-2009, 08:53 PM
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Heat treated?

I believe they are heat treated so they will not flex allowing the bed to fall through.
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Old 11-21-2009, 10:00 PM
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The only good way to drill, mill or work with bed rails is either a grinder or the blue wrench. I had a friend bring a piece to me needing some holes drilled. I threw it in the scrap pile, he dug it out. So I taught him how to punch and drift his holes at the anvil. He got his holes done but he had to make his own punch and drifts first. There are times that going old school is the best way.
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