Matthew Shoemaker
I put this culmination of my knowledge together about where to find steel besides your towns stock steel shop, hopefully its useful!

As a slow growing youth blacksmith, I have found success in talking to people. Don't per Say use others, but just ask some people you know if they know anyone who deals with steel. For an example, I know an a/c guy who hooked me up with plenty of aluminum bits and pieces for when I was doing alot of casting. For steel, my dad works right next to a machine shop and they gave us some of their cut offs and rejects of both mild and tool steel. The same people also gave us two anvil worthy pieces of steel (pretty sure its mild steel). If your looking for just something to beat on, people are throwing rebar away all the time at construction sites, so see if you know someone or know someone who knows someone that works at a construction site and can get you some rebar. For higher quality steels, get to know someone that works with railroad tracks and can legally get you some railroad spikes or other railroad related steel. Also, if your looking to make knives, go talk to some mechanics about springs, leaf or coil springs. They tend to have an ample supply of that sort of thing. If you know what your looking at, paroose a junkyard for different steels as well. I have found luck in finding broken pins for heavy machinery for axe or hammerhead. Even flea markets can be fruitful; go looking for old files and such that are reasonably high quality steel. Remember, don't just go and ask for the steel, people will think your a scrapper trying to make a quick buck, explain your purpose and reason, maybe even offer to forge them something cool for their contributions. If your polite and open to them, they will often give you steel or charge very little for it.
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theengel
BTW - Railroad spikes: The steel is ok, but not the best for knives.  It just won't hold an edge that long... even the ones stamped HC (high carbon).  But if you want some for free, just walk along side a rail road track.  The train vibrates them out, and you can find them along side the tracks.  A five minute search will generally score you at least ten of them.  Some of them are rusty, but you can clean that up pretty quick.  Many of them you find are hardly rusted at all.


Or, if not smithies per se, were you otherwise trained in the metallurgic arts before straitened circumstances forced you into a life of aimless wanderin'?
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jmccustomknives
I've found that when people find out what you do you don't even have to ask.  They will offer you the steel.  Last summer I had to haul off 3000lbs of steel that was given to me, I wasn't ever going to use it.  Just the other day a guy brought me some coil springs, I took them knowing I'd probably never use them but they'd be good practice fodder for newby smiths that come out to the shop.  I do find a lot of files at flea markets, but my fav is estate sales.  I bought a rather large handful (at least 8lbs worth) of Nicholson mill files for $4 a few weeks ago at an estate sale.  I've also picked up some nice tools, a couple of years ago I bought a 1x42 sander, band saw and a little 1 ton press and had $40 in all of them.

Theengel, watch out walking down and taking spikes and stuff from the RR right of way.  It is considered trespassing, and theft.  It can be a federal offense.  They've gotten a little tough about it around here.  You could understand in this day an time how one could "collect" a few spikes in the right place and cause a disaster. 

Rule #10;  "I can make that" translates to; "I'm to cheap to buy it new."

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theengel
I guess I can see that.  But I am talking about picking them up off the ground.  Obviously, taking them out of the tracks would be a very bad idea.
Or, if not smithies per se, were you otherwise trained in the metallurgic arts before straitened circumstances forced you into a life of aimless wanderin'?
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Steve Meyer
Its the same around here as far as getting in trouble walking up and down or near RR tracks picking up spikes, and plates.  I'm lucky my nephew works for  the RR so i can get that sort of thing fairly easily. I do want to hit the local scrap yard, it's supposed to be small but may have some usable steel, just haven't had time.
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NorrinRadd
I have so many lawn mower blades from all my co-workers it's not even funny. I plan on making them little knives as thank you gifts.
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Steve Meyer
At the top is a lawn mower blade, knife.  This thing was just for practice not much forging just had to flatten it and did a little shaping then it was grinding.  Water quenched and tempered, it holds a good edge and seems fairly durable, also skates a file nice.

IMG_20170225_112155.jpg   
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Skarzs the Cave Troll
Good job.
Yeah, be wary about going and "finding" those spikes. . . It'd suck to get hit with a fine or other penalty. :/ I personally have a friend who works for the railroad and was offering to give me a bunch, but since I don't use 'em much and I have a dozen or so already, I passed. 
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Matthew Shoemaker
Surprisingly enough, even walking on railroad tracks is considered trespassing. And depending on your area, the laws can be real strict. RR spikes and other parts can be fun to make whatever with, but the law doesnt care about the cool knife or door handle you have planned. But, it is not hard to know someone who works on the railroad, especially if you have a decently populated RR station or railyard. Personally, I live next to a Tropicana plant that has many CSX workers (switch operaters, repaimen, etc.), and a quick conversation with one results in plenty of spikes, plates, and those clips. Once I checked in and the had a piece of a broken pin that was about 4 inches long, 2 inch diameter, and the head has a 3 inch diameter. I plan on making a hatchet/tomahawk/hammerhead out of it. At the end of the day, just be careful in your endeavors.
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Scrambler82
Sorry, this is waking up an old thread but I was wondering... AGAIN !

Are the Railroad Spikes sold on eBay any good... some say HC - High Carbon Spikes, some say just Old Spikes ?

I saw one add for 50 High Carbon Railroad Spikes for 49.95 with FREE Shipping, seems like a good price.

Thanks for reading / Ltr !
Do It Right The First Time !
GrevB
Location: SoCal, USA
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jmccustomknives
Supposedly, the HC stands for high carbon.  I have never found any confirmation on that.  I do believe they have a little more carbon than the standard spike which depending on when it was made can run from wrought iron to .2% carbon.  The latter can stiffen up in a water quench.  I did get a HC spike and tested it.  At around .3% carbon they will Harden some what, around 50rch, nowhere near what a real high carbon steel will do.  The spike knife was tested against some cheap factory knives, and against the Walmart special it performed better which isn't saying much.  Here are the cut comparisons done using the rope on cutting board method;

cheap Walmart chinesium folder (set at .25% carbon) - 5 cuts

CRKW boot knife. (apex .6% carbon). -  7 cuts

HC spike knife (aprx .3% carbon)-  15 cuts

cable Damascus hunter (aprx .7 carbon)- 40 cuts. *see note below, I would have normally expected 25 to 30 cuts out of a standard cable knife.

Pattern Welded hunter (aprx .95% carbon)- 40 cuts

Black Diamond hunter (aprx 1.27% carbon)- 45 cuts

There is a bell curve to steels performance, the meat of the curve is from .6 - 1.2% carbon (simple carbon steels).  It works out to 10% more edge holding for every .1% carbon added compared at the same hardness.  This breaks down below .6% because those steels cannot attain a high enough hardness.  
You might be wondering how a cable Damascus knife at .7% carbon could come close to that Black Diamond at 1.27% carbon.  I used a special forging technique designed to add carbon to the cable, it will only work on the cable.

Rule #10;  "I can make that" translates to; "I'm to cheap to buy it new."

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Scrambler82
Wow... a lot of things to think about !

One thing, I thought... (smoke), I thought I read that Wrought Iron had a carbon content of .1 to .25% !   thinking HC Spikes are set at .3%, not much of a difference.
Sometime I read too much, I need to get doin !

I thought the price was right for the eBay HC Spikes, I'm thinking on getting them but not for Blade Making, I will not say, "never will I make a Blade"... but my abilities need to be honed A LOT MORE to even think about it!

My thought on the HC Spikes are for decorative pieces, Hangers, Feet for a Plant Stand... Wife Project, and things along this line, and for less than a buck apiece its a go !

Thx for the info Jim.
Do It Right The First Time !
GrevB
Location: SoCal, USA
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theengel
If you live anywhere close to a railroad, all you have to do is walk down the tracks and look on the ground.  Whenever I pass one, I pull over and do this.  You can usually collect more than you can carry, laying on the ground about ten feet away from the tracks, within fifteen minutes.
Or, if not smithies per se, were you otherwise trained in the metallurgic arts before straitened circumstances forced you into a life of aimless wanderin'?
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Scrambler82
Funny thing... I don't even know where the nearest RR is in SoCal.

I have never looked it up, never thought about it !

Going to do a Goggle Search and see.

Looks like the Union Pacific runs through the lower part of SoCal, but a good distance from my area, so I'm thinking no walking the route.

I found some RR Spikes on eBay for a good brice so that will be my source.

Thx


Do It Right The First Time !
GrevB
Location: SoCal, USA
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jmccustomknives
Scrambler82 wrote:
Funny thing... I don't even know where the nearest RR is in SoCal.

I have never looked it up, never thought about it !

Going to do a Goggle Search and see.

Looks like the Union Pacific runs through the lower part of SoCal, but a good distance from my area, so I'm thinking no walking the route.

I found some RR Spikes on eBay for a good brice so that will be my source.

Thx



Just keep in mind, in most states it's a crime (trespassing at minimum) and theft to take something off the tracks right of way.  They've started cracking down in it now.  Not to mention believe it or not, those trains can sneak up on you.   [wink]
 

Rule #10;  "I can make that" translates to; "I'm to cheap to buy it new."

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Skarzs the Cave Troll
I was gonna say, "That's kind of illegal."
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