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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 12-17-2012, 11:43 PM
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Knife #2 Railroad Spike, Butter Knife?

This is my second attempt at a knife, made this one out of a railroad spike, I am waiting on some stock steel, and instead of making another scrap steel knife, I thought I would try to make some knives out of Railroad Spikes, They are pretty cool looking IMO, alot of people seem to like them.

Anyways, here is my attempt at a tomahawk, before using my brain, I just heated the spike and hammered away like crazy, which is the opposite of the correct thing to do, probably why this spike turned into a spoon, and then a chisel and now a trowel.


Not sure how many people here have tried to do the same, or have any blacksmithing skills, but I could not get the metal to fold back into itself, it would fold, but the distinction between them remained very clear. . . I am using a acetylene/oxygen torch which isn't the best, and a sledge hammer for an anvil. . . Is it a heating issue or something? It isn't needed for the knifes I want to make, but It would be nice to know in general for future projects.

Here is a double twist handle for my knife, I first marked lines on all 4 sides with a chisel after heating, then used a vice to help twist the metal. Really happy with how nice it turned out for my first twist attempt.

This is 2 full twists, I'm tempted to try reverse twists? Kinda fun stuff.

This is the rough hammering of the blade, learned to hit the metal at an angle, heated the bottom more than the top, the metal went down more than out in all directions (Like the tomahawk did) still looks like a cave-man went at it.


I shaped it a little bit more, and then hit it with a grinder to shape it a bit more, then did some quick file work on the two sides, no bevel but draw filed it to create a more flush side, which worked really well compared to what it was, still some work that needs to be done to it.


Attempted to do some fancy file work on the top of the knife, the photo is sorta blurry, but the idea is very similar to alot of the other knives I've seen people make. I believe it's just a round file (I know there's a name for them, rat tail? ) followed with straight file marks, in a serpentine pattern. I really just need to slow down and try to space things better.


This is the other side of the blade, you can see some of the fancy file work I was attempting to do.


Overall the whole thing took me maybe 3-4 hours. Not great, but for some reason I'm pretty #### pleased with it.

What I've learned, and will attempt to do tomorrow is:
  • Elongate the steel first, by hammering on all four sides
  • When twisting, end in a half (1.5, 2.5, 3.5 twists) this will allow the thin edge of the nail to be pointing up, leading to less metal needing to be drawn down.
  • Curve the entire knife handle and all, so when drawing down the metal I end up with a more knife shape than butter knife.

I know this doesn't even come close to blacksmithing, but It is awfully fun to do, I really enjoyed learning some tricks and I still can't believe how well the handle twisted.

Thoughts, comments, advice?

Thanks for reading folks!!


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Last edited by Blue Sasquatch; 12-17-2012 at 11:53 PM.
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Old 12-17-2012, 11:54 PM
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The RR spikes are fun to begin to learn blacksmithing. I've done a few too. My knives came out pretty nice but my tomahawk looks worse than yours lol. I tried to forge weld a piece of 5160 into the bit and never could get it to work. Your handle twist looks very nice.
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Old 12-18-2012, 12:22 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ricky_arthur View Post
The RR spikes are fun to begin to learn blacksmithing. I've done a few too. My knives came out pretty nice but my tomahawk looks worse than yours lol. I tried to forge weld a piece of 5160 into the bit and never could get it to work. Your handle twist looks very nice.
Thanks Ricky, It is fun to do, feel free to post pictures of anything you've made with RR spikes, it is nice to see other takes on the items, I find the knives are better suited for small hands sadly.

The twist was easier than I thought it would be, took alot of muscle but it worked without to much re-heating. The line down the center really makes it pop, I'm excited to try things like a double line, or some cross lines thrown in. Short twists, long twists. Not sure If I misread somewhere but I thought there's even a reverse twist.


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Old 12-18-2012, 12:51 AM
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Well here are some of mine. Minus the tomahawk. I didn't take a pic of it. But it's still out by the anvil where I dropped it.
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Old 12-18-2012, 01:18 AM
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Hah mine looks similar to that 3rd one, but i'm shooting for one more like the 2nd one. That last one is pretty cool, never thought to put a handle on it, but the 'head' works great as an end cap. However did you manage to get enough metal out of the spike to make such a large blade?!

I've found the following site that explains how to make a simple twisting tool, leading to more precise twists. (Heating the spike on a torch, then putting it in a vice, and clamping the other end with a vice grip and then trying to twist it leads to alot of cooling before I can try and muscle it. ) Also the reverse twist I was trying to talk about is apparently known as a Pineapple twist, and looks fairly easy to attempt.
http://www.mooseforge.com/twisting.html

Also if you look at the stairwell twist, would this be possible with a railroad spike? It looks like the square are cut awfully deep, but would be a nice handle version.


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Last edited by Blue Sasquatch; 12-18-2012 at 01:21 AM.
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Old 12-18-2012, 09:02 AM
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Actually I should say that the third one down was my brothers first attempt. He wanted to make a round handle, which he did but that then made it near impossible to hold while he worked the blade. He made one more attempt that came out much better but he took that one home. ha

On the long one, Thats just how long it became when I flattened it from head to tip. Then I assembled and welded the guard on and put on a piece of red Cedar I had from making a cedar chest. Since it will sit on a display stand In my Brother in Laws house (he works for the rail road and thought the idea was very cool. We will see what he thinks when he gets the 2 I sent him.) it should work find and I learned alot in the making of that knife. Probably more than any other.

The oddball knife on the right, was my first attempt at flattening out and using a flat spring from a truck. I kinda liked it so I made it a sheath too.
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Old 12-18-2012, 09:41 AM
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I've only made a couple though I have half a bucket of spikes on hand. The two ended spike is how they are manufactured, I got a couple before they were cut in half:





Blue, you need to build a forge. Your torch is too hot and too focused...


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Last edited by Ray Rogers; 12-18-2012 at 09:45 AM.
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Old 12-18-2012, 09:52 AM
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I am trading some Osage Orange for some firebrick, so hopefully I have a forge up and running soon-ish.

We are also expected to get half a foot of snow and high winds out here, so my forge may have flown south for warmer weather :P


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Old 12-18-2012, 12:46 PM
Imakethings Imakethings is offline
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Also there are a bunch of youtube videos on forging things from RR spikes, I highly suggest spending some time watching. It will reduce the learning curve a great deal.
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Old 12-18-2012, 07:22 PM
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Even though the spikes are pretty much low-carb steel, 40 points or less (most are less), you can make them pretty tough using a "super quench".......1 gal of H2O, 1 # of salt, 1 small bottle of Dawn liqiud dish detergent .... mix in a container until all salt is dissolved (using warm water helps). Some add a dose of surficant (liquid spot remover for dishwasher).
Note - This will not make them what most of us consider a serious knife (do to the low cab issue), but they will hold a bit better edge than just a quench in water or oil.


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Old 12-18-2012, 11:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Crex View Post
Even though the spikes are pretty much low-carb steel, 40 points or less (most are less), you can make them pretty tough using a "super quench".......1 gal of H2O, 1 # of salt, 1 small bottle of Dawn liqiud dish detergent .... mix in a container until all salt is dissolved (using warm water helps). Some add a dose of surficant (liquid spot remover for dishwasher).
Note - This will not make them what most of us consider a serious knife (do to the low cab issue), but they will hold a bit better edge than just a quench in water or oil.

That's great advice! Thank you Crex!


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Old 12-19-2012, 02:27 AM
Imakethings Imakethings is offline
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Couple notes for you regarding carbon content of spikes in the USA.
Industry standards set the normal carbon content of normal spikes at .12% and the spikes marked HC allow a maximum of .30% carbon. Note, that is the MAXIMUM allowable carbon in these spikes as the railroad wants those spikes to bend rather than break.

Source:
http://www.cartercrafts.com/carbon_myth.htm
http://www.railfasteners.com/1-2-rail-spike.html
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Old 12-19-2012, 04:56 AM
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THanks for sharing the links. I agree, RXR spikes have carbon content too low for quality blades. The 40 points comment is based on info gleaned from U.S. Railroad spec documents researched by a long time friend. These were pretty old specs judging by the way they are written, yours appear to be more current, however are from a China based mfgr. not actual RxR spec sheets. Not arguing here just clarifying.
That being said, the "super quench" will result in enough hardness to make a blade that will out cut a walmart kitchen knife (but what won't?). I did a demo on this at one time and managed to cut the kitchen knife in half with a hardened RxR spike blade. Of course there is more to it than just hardness, but it makes for good entertainment.
I never sell RxR spike knives as knives but as novelties. Most of mine are from pre-1900's and are more of a nostalgia thing than anything else. I don't do many as I prefer to make serious cutlery.
Thanks again for sharing the links. I'll start digging in my old files and see if I can find the spec sheets, scan and post for reader enjoyment.

Blue - you still have to get the spike slightly above non-mag for the quench to work properly.


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Last edited by Crex; 12-19-2012 at 06:41 AM.
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Old 12-19-2012, 10:04 AM
Imakethings Imakethings is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Crex View Post
THanks for sharing the links. I agree, RXR spikes have carbon content too low for quality blades. The 40 points comment is based on info gleaned from U.S. Railroad spec documents researched by a long time friend. These were pretty old specs judging by the way they are written, yours appear to be more current, however are from a China based mfgr. not actual RxR spec sheets. Not arguing here just clarifying.
That being said, the "super quench" will result in enough hardness to make a blade that will out cut a walmart kitchen knife (but what won't?). I did a demo on this at one time and managed to cut the kitchen knife in half with a hardened RxR spike blade. Of course there is more to it than just hardness, but it makes for good entertainment.
I never sell RxR spike knives as knives but as novelties. Most of mine are from pre-1900's and are more of a nostalgia thing than anything else. I don't do many as I prefer to make serious cutlery.
Thanks again for sharing the links. I'll start digging in my old files and see if I can find the spec sheets, scan and post for reader enjoyment.

Blue - you still have to get the spike slightly above non-mag for the quench to work properly.
They live up to the AREMA specs so they're pretty representative.
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Old 12-21-2012, 12:00 PM
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Didn't figure it was worth starting a new thread but thought It might fit in here. My wife asked me to make a RR spike knife for her Dad who retired from the RR. I'm suprised I hadn't though to make one for him already. I Banged it out while I was working another piece of stock for a different knife. Managed to keep both Irons going without ruining one. About an hour start to finish and I Kinda like it.


Last edited by ricky_arthur; 12-21-2012 at 12:03 PM.
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