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The Newbies Arena Are you new to knife making? Here is all the help you will need.

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  #1  
Old 10-26-2015, 11:59 AM
dtec1 dtec1 is offline
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NEW RR Track Anvil Need help mounting

Hey guys so my brother that works for the metro north rail road here in ny got me a piece of track to use as a anvil since i can not afford a legit "anvil". But from what i seen and heard in my research that some home made anvils end up being better than some manufactured ones. Well any way the piece is exactly 12 inches (1 foot) long. This is some real hard stuff. Half of it i kept as is just took off the rust with a flap disc. The other half i grinded down the top to make it perfectly flat (or as close as i could get) as the top was just slightly rounded as is not much tho. Like i said very hard stuff lets just say i have never went thorough so many grinding wheels just to take off so little metal. So during my research i have found some people say having it horizontal is better and some say to turn it on its end and use it vertically. I think it just depends on what your doing. I did try hitting some metal on it in both positions (just sitting on concrete floor tho) but i can see both positions being useful in different situations. So now the question is how to mount it i originally was planning on just taking big lag screws and either drilling a hole or cutting notches in the base of the rail and screwing it down to a big tree stump and seeing how that works. But since i see the use in having the anvil in both positions i want to try to mount it in some way that i could easily un mount it and change it from horizontal to vertical. If i did that with my original plan i am sure those lag screws would get very loose and come out after a few times of tightening/loosening every time i want to change it. And i can only drill so many hole in the tree trunk before it starts to fall apart and i dont want to have to constantly replace this thing i would rather take the extra thought and time and build something that functions good and will last for a long while. 2 things i thought of is i also have 2 wheel weights for a tractor (basically a big metal disc) it is exact same diameter as the length of the rail (12 inches) and it is about 1 1/2 inch thick it also has a couple holes in it (i assume that is how they control the weight of these things when they make them). there is 5 or 6 holes in it they are about a little over a inch in diameter. So i was thinking maybe use the lag screws to attach this to the wood and then drill and tap holes in the wheel weight so i could put screws through the base of the rail and into the taped holes. The problem with this is the wheel weight is only 1 1/2 thick so the screws couldn't go that deep and i dont know if that would hold. The other thing i heard of is people making a box filling it with sand and putting the anvil in the sand but i couldnt find any real details about this. Does it just sit in the sand not attached to anything? Or does it still have to be mounted to a solid base? ANY ideas or advice would really be appreciated from any one. thanks guys!
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  #2  
Old 10-26-2015, 12:35 PM
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Ray Rogers Ray Rogers is offline
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I don't think I'd complicate things by trying to make a flip-top anvil. Rail is fairly cheap, it isn't really large, so if you want two types of anvil just make two anvils. Lots of guys have more than one anvil. If you can't get another piece free then buy one - I know you already know how to locate one if you need it.

Sand seems like it would make a dead base, take all the bounce out of the anvil. That could be good or bad depending on how you like to work, I suppose. Looks to me like the big problem with sand would be preventing the anvil from sinking into it as you work.

Most important right now: build an anvil and start using it. You have a tendency (as many of us do) to try to assemble every possible tool in every configuration before you even know if you need it. You can't build the perfect shop until you know what it is you are building - not what you think you want to build, but what you actually will build and the techniques you will actually use to build it. Plans change the minute you try to execute them.

Tack that rail to a stump and don't look back ...


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  #3  
Old 10-26-2015, 05:43 PM
dtec1 dtec1 is offline
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alright yeh your right anyway i was trying to predict a need that really may not even arise. i did use it (unmounted on cement floor) and i can definitely see a positive for having the anvil vertically as far as (i guess because of more mass underneath maybe?) i think if you really had to hit something real hard and flatten it out i think having it that way would help. But today when i was using it i had it horizontal the whole time and i didnt even think about turning it on its end once. And i like the idea of having one part flat (or as close as it comes with a angle grinder with grinding dics and sanding flap wheels) and the other part slightly rounded as it came. Also horizontal i got room to add a hardy hole and if i want to round one end off to a horn or weld a horn onto it. Generally just more room for stuff all around. I think that will be my project tomorow to nail it down horizontally. Ray remember you had said those wheel weights would be a good base? Do you think i should just nail the rail down to a tree trunk with or without one or both of those wheel weights in between the rail and the tree trunk....or i thought maybe putting one between the rail and tree to just add a lil more mass to the rail (its heavy but i dont think as heavy as a legit "anvil" and the other on the opisat (bottom) of the tree thinking the weight might help hold it in one spot and stabilize it a lil more (less top heavy). Either way i should still dig a hole and put it in the ground?.

one more off topic question...so as i have said i had made a layer billet of 1080 and 15n20. I forge welded it no problem and drew it cut it in 3 forge welded again and today finished drawing out again. And i cant belive being my first time doing this i had absolutly no problem with any of the welds sticking and staying i havent had to "fix" a weld once. So 24 layers right now so i was thinking of cutting it in 3 again so that will make 72 layers i think. Is there any rule of thumb on the layer count? Does more layers mean that after you do whatever (twist, grind, ect..) the lines in the pattern would be thiner right? i am just trying to figure how many layers before going to the next step. I have read many different things from just a few layers to hundreds and thousands. but no where did i read what general effect having more or less layers would do.
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  #4  
Old 10-26-2015, 06:52 PM
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Ray Rogers Ray Rogers is offline
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I imagine that just attaching the rail to the stump would be fine but my gut says it would be even better if you were to weld the rail to the wheel weight and then attach it to the stump. Just leave the stump sitting on the ground, do not put a weight under it. If you decide you need more weight later the weld the second wheel weight onto the first one. Make sure everything sits nice and flat.

Sounds like you did well on the welding but you might discover later that things haven't gone as you think they have. Get the steel finished and then make a blade from it. At that point, we'll see what we see.

Some guys like very low layer count in the 20 range. This gives a very broad pattern. Personally, I like about 250 layers, the pattern is small enough to be contained on a small blade but not so small that it becomes too fine and loses definition. Any damascus blade on my website should show you what 250 - 300 layers looks like....


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  #5  
Old 10-26-2015, 07:10 PM
jmccustomknives jmccustomknives is offline
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The holes are there because that is an end piece where they are bolted together. RR companies will often replace those sections. I assume yours is going to be a light rail. Rail is rated by the weight of a 3ft section. I've got some that is about 30lbs per foot and some that's about 70lbs a foot. That's a big difference. As far as how you mount it, you'll have to work that out to what you want to make. I took a piece of rail (56lb per foot) and flipped it then boxed it in with some heavy plate. Then it was welded onto a base. It weighed about 150lbs and had a large flat surface. I made hundreds of knives on it.
The easiest way is just like you were going to, bolt it to the stump until you can find a "real" anvil.
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  #6  
Old 10-27-2015, 12:04 PM
dtec1 dtec1 is offline
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Ray thanks..when you say weld it to the weight you mean either MIG or stick weld right? not forge welding deffinitly cant even think about that forge aint big enough....i am going to check out your site right now about the layers in the damascus.

JMC- I think i might of confused you a lil....the rail does not have any holes in it at all. what i was talking about that has holes in it was these 2 wheel weights that i have. they are basicly a round disc a foot in diameter and about 1 1/2 inch think. i brought these up because ray had sugested at one time that they might make a nice base for the rail. as he said in his previous post about welding them to the rail. Also the piece of rail i have i have not weighed it but it is a foot long and is WAY over 30 pounds it probilly around 70 like you said you have. Ill weigh it at some point today and figure that out. But its not a small one my brother in law is a mechanic for the RR by me. He works more on the cars but not on the rails. He went and asked his buddy in the rail dept. for some and he said they had 4 different sizes basicly small, medium, large, and a xtra large. the xtra large one is only used in the rail yards not out on the tracks and they didnt have alot so he grabed the next biggest wich he said is the biggest rail that is used on the tracks (outside the yard)
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  #7  
Old 10-27-2015, 12:19 PM
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Yes, not forge welding...MIG, TIG, acetylene, etc


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Old 10-27-2015, 12:58 PM
dtec1 dtec1 is offline
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Ray i forgot one thing maybe your experience can help me from doing this twice....So as i said having the rail horizontal i decide to take one half (6 in) and grind it down flat (i dont know if you ever used a rail but they are ever so slightly rounded on the top) so yeh half is flat as i could get it with grinding wheels and flap wheels. The other half i just hit lightly with a flap wheel just to get off the rust but preserve the slight rounding. Research followed by trial i found the slight rounding a lil helpful when drawing that billet out. then switch to flat to clean it up. Now i am not sure what to do about a "horn" i might round one end to the shape of a horn or i seen a guy cut a small piece of a pick axe (or something similar) round it even and weld onto the end of the rail....either way i am not planning on doing that yet still need time to bounce ideas around in my head and a lil more experience before i jump on that.. I was planing to wait on a hardy hole to but i tried something suggested on the web and took a round rod and made a very crude "trial" spring fuller tool and messed around with it and it helped alot. So i do want to make a hardy hole so i can take advantage of these tools. I also think it will be easier to make now before i mount it to a log or weld it to that wheel weight. So 2 things....wich side should i put the hole on the grinded flat side or the as is still slightly rounded side? I would tend to think do it on the flat side but i figured you got more experience than me so maybe you had a better idea. i want to keep this rail as much "as is" as possible (NOT like these pics you see where people take a rail and cut all this material out and make it look like a "anvil") i think that would take sooo much weight off and destabilize it. Ok now 2nd now say i put the hole on the flat end, all the way at the end, now what i have seen is people cut out (hmmm...i dont know what it would be called but if the rail is laying horizontal the section of it that is vertical between the base and the top) but yeh they cut out the end of that piece so when they drill the initial hole it goes right threw the top part of the rail and then file the circular hole to a square one. Now does it have to be done that way or say you didnt cut that piece out. And drilled that initial hole it wouldnt pop out the other end with out that piece cut out but would that be ok? would you be able to get a hole deep enough to "hold" the hardy tools in place or would they pop out in use since you cant set them as deep into a hole.
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Old 10-27-2015, 01:01 PM
dtec1 dtec1 is offline
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Oh also i forgot to ask remeber we were talking about mounting it onto a I beam (or wheel weight then I beam) would that be better than a tree trunk or wouldnt make much difference?
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Old 10-27-2015, 01:06 PM
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Ray Rogers Ray Rogers is offline
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A typical blacksmith's anvil has a horn but as knifemakers we rarely use the horn (read almost never and when we do use it we're probably not making a knife). So, I wouldn't waste much time thinking about adding a horn.

As for the hardy hole, who says it has to be drilled in the rail? Why waste the space? Weld a piece of heavy pipe on the end of the rail and there's your Hardy hole. Weld a small piece or two of metal across the end of the pipe to keep your tools from rotating (or use a piece of square tubing in the first place)....


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Old 10-27-2015, 01:13 PM
dtec1 dtec1 is offline
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And again Ray...I bow to your genius! Such a simple practical solution (that i would never of thought of) Thanks again really it would of taken a LONG time to drill and file all that hard metal...I am off to do just that and....play a little more with that damascus billet.
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Old 10-27-2015, 01:14 PM
dtec1 dtec1 is offline
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Oh what about the I beam whats better I beam or tree trunk or basically the same and it dont matter
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  #13  
Old 10-27-2015, 01:32 PM
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The stump is easier so I'd try that first. Easy enough to switch to the I-beam later if necessary (but I doubt it will be) ...


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Old 10-27-2015, 06:02 PM
Ed of all trade Ed of all trade is offline
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If you get a piece of square stock to use in your hardy hole just get some extra. cut three short pieces and clamp them together with a piece of cereal box between them for a spacer. Grind a shallow recess in the end of your rail just over the size of your square stock and then weld the blocks over the recess just welding the two outside blocks on the outside, top and bottom. take out the center block and weld a 1/4 plate over the opening and you have a hardy hole just like the big boys. Use the center piece for your fuller mount. That is what I did. Ed

Last edited by Ed of all trade; 10-27-2015 at 06:11 PM.
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Old 10-27-2015, 07:57 PM
dtec1 dtec1 is offline
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ed i was going to just weld a square tube to the end of the rail and eithe use slighly smaller square tube or solid square stock for the tools going in the square tube or hardy hole. i was a lil concerned of how strong and stable it was going to be but figured try it and if it breaks fix it but your sugestion seems a lil more stable (from what i understood) honestly alot of you post kinda cunfused me in a few spots how are they configured with the cerial box when clamped and how configured when weld and why would you weld a plate over the top?? any pics or drawings?
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