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rr spikes?

Discussion in 'Shop Talk - BladeSmith Questions and Answers' started by willy m, Mar 11, 2008.

  1. willy m

    willy m

    Nov 27, 2007
    i read about making things from rr spikes. i have been trying to forge a couple of hawks from them. my question is this,some of the spikes are marked on the head "h.c." and "h.c.s." ive read that they are high carbon steel. is this true? are the ones not marked mild steel? does anybody know why they use 2 different types of steel? there are other kinds of steel laying on the tracks. one piece is rnd stock bent almost in the shape of a paper clip,its used to "clip" the track to the tie. is this a type of spring steel? i live near many many sets of track and see these pieces of steel constantly. but i have no idea as to what kind of steel it is. i was thinking it would make decent steel for making hawks or tools or other things that dont need as delicate a ht and temper as a blade.......willy
  2. Bibble


    Mar 8, 2008
    The HC marked spikes are higher carbon than the ones not marked as such.
    They make decent blades and such if you treat them right.
  3. kibuddha4


    Apr 10, 2005
    I never got a good edge on the spikes. Like the link above says it's just too low on carbon. As far as I know the clips you see are good for knives. I am one of those people who started out with scrap and had issue after issue. Now I only buy new steel. Just because a few clips are good doesn't mean the next batch you get will. Don't chance it and just buy new steel.

    -Mike Sheffield
  4. indian george

    indian george

    Feb 15, 1999
    I agree.:thumbup:
  5. Stacy E. Apelt - Bladesmith

    Stacy E. Apelt - Bladesmith ilmarinen - MODERATOR Moderator Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Aug 20, 2004
    Don't throw those spikes and RR steel things away. Make blacksmith projects from them (Plant hooks, Fireplace tools,Crosses, Animal heads, etc.) and sell them at $5-25 each. Then buy some 1084 or 5160 and have a ball making knives.
  6. atakach


    Jan 17, 2008
    the steel in those track anchors im 99.99% sure is 5160 but dont quote me that's what a railroader/knifemaker had told me i have dozens of them i run them down on the hammer and make bar stock w/them. i agree that even the h/c spikes are too low for a suitable knife but sure make damn pretty letter openers. ive made them with all spikes bridge spikes, mine rail spikes, even stainless steel railroad spikes. but i think the h/c are either 1053c or 1040c.

    ill ageree with george that you do have to be careful and inspect those clips i've only ever used new ones but im sure used would have their share of stress cracks. good luck. i have to post more but there is a pic of one i sold back in december on my site.

  7. indian george

    indian george

    Feb 15, 1999
    I use them as legs on the forges I build.:D
  8. A C Richards

    A C Richards Dealer / Materials Provider Dealer / Materials Provider

    Apr 14, 2006
    You can forge knives out of the spikes etc if you really want to. They make good practice.. I sell them for novelties and tell the person they are not a great quality and I do not mark them. But then i used to sell them for $20. I would demonstrate at a living history museum. I would forge them right there and sell them "hot off the press". I agree though that if you are after the best result possible use known steel from a MFG. Even then do some testing on your own. I have heard horror stories about receiving Mild steel and ordered 1095. Many of the steels found on the RR are good quality but then as mentioned above you can never be sure unless you do certifications on every piece of steel which would negate any savings from the free material.
  9. bennett


    Sep 22, 2005
    Just had to chime in on this one, because I was cleaning out the shop/garage and getting ready to forge some blades in the next couple of days, and came across the huge box of spikes I picked up about 4 1/2 yrs ago when this damn knifemaking bug bit me:D I have to agree with most of the folks here - they are great to practice forging skills on, and they really do make cool letter openers or novelty-type knives, but they just don't make great using knives. Some of the spikes will harden pretty well in brine, but others wouldn't harden in water - IMHO they are just kind of unreliable. However, if you can get a bunch, they are fun to make "stuff" out of (wizard heads, dragons, assorted hooks, letter openers, etc...).
  10. Beile


    Jul 17, 2006
    I just forged two more of them, a lot of people have never seen them. My sister in law had never seen one and thought it was pretty cool. Guess what she's getting for her birthday? I get forging practice and she gets a new letter opener/knife.
  11. atakach


    Jan 17, 2008
    my first forge had rr spike legs to.
    the stainless spike are beautiful letter openers, and the selling point of course is all the handeling and you dont ever have to worry about them rusting. i got them when i was rebuilding coke ovens, they use them on the track in the quench tower where they quench the coke cause the water is so corrosive that normal spikes would rot away . but they sure polish up purdy and if done right bring a nice buck. i did a bridge spike/san mai i welded 52100/1095 on the spike and made a bowie letter opener and got $550 for it. so ther is some $ in them. my cheapest spike is $100 and its a mine car spike 3" long . just gotta be up front that there not knives

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