Railroad Spike Indian Ax

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Project by Jim Jakosh posted 04-06-2018 07:03 PM 2658 views 1 time favorited 46 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This is an example what can be done by a good blacksmith with a high carbon railroad spike.The head of this ax was made by LJ Chuck1 ( Chuck Andrews ) in the forge he made at our park in Arizona. The third photo is his forge and the head and a spike that was used to make the head .

The handle is Alder( I think) and is 16” long . It was the first time I turned an oval and a taper all the way on a part. The top was offset 1/8” either way of center and the bottom was offset 3/16”. I had a fair amount of chatter since I could not use a steady rest but it sanded out fine. I was going to use mesquite but I wanted a light colored wood with that black head.

The wood is finished with Danish Oil and then 3 stage buffed and waxed. The head was forged, hardened and ground to a sharp edge and then blued with Birchwood Super Blue ( last shot). I added some leather and turquoise beads to give it a more original look.
It is a ceremonial ax but still a real weapon.

Cheers, Jim

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

46 comments so far

View splinterbubba's profile


95 posts in 1683 days

#1 posted 04-06-2018 07:18 PM

Looks GREAT Jim, handle and head made from scratch just like Tonto did it (more or less).... That will be a great conversation piece.

View Joe Lyddon's profile

Joe Lyddon

10923 posts in 4855 days

#2 posted 04-06-2018 07:29 PM

I’d say that you really ‘spiked’ this one!

Great way a Spike can be transformed into a hatchet head! Great work!

-- Have Fun! Joe Lyddon - Alta Loma, CA USA - Home: ... My Small Gallery:

View ZAGREB's profile


1276 posts in 2452 days

#3 posted 04-06-2018 07:46 PM

i like you respect your history
great job,mate
greetings from Croatia

-- bambi

View Redoak49's profile


4798 posts in 2791 days

#4 posted 04-06-2018 08:37 PM

Nice job.

I thought even high carbon spikes were too low in carbon for making a cutting edge. I have read they are only 0.30% carbon.

View hoss12992's profile


4172 posts in 2695 days

#5 posted 04-06-2018 08:50 PM

That is awesome. As a blacksmith, I can say with experience that the head made from a railroad spike is excellent craftsmanship as is the rest of it. Great job buddy and congrats to both of yall

-- The Old Rednek Workshop

View  woodshaver Tony C   's profile

woodshaver Tony C

7564 posts in 4156 days

#6 posted 04-06-2018 10:10 PM

Great job on that Indian Ax Jim. Railroad Spike wow!

-- St Augustine FL, Experience is the sum of our mistakes!

View peteg's profile


4436 posts in 3625 days

#7 posted 04-06-2018 10:22 PM

Two skilled guys on show here, wow this a great collaboration Jim & Chuck, it has that “real deal” look to it
well done boys

-- Pete G: If you always do what you always did you'll always get what you always got

View Andrek's profile


545 posts in 2712 days

#8 posted 04-06-2018 11:10 PM

this is more than a conversation piece, it s work of art. bravo.

-- andrek

View bushmaster's profile


3940 posts in 3085 days

#9 posted 04-07-2018 12:50 AM

Interesting, Didn’t know rail road spikes where high carbon, will have to pick up a few and see it they will harden up.

-- Brian - Hazelton, British Columbia

View BobWemm's profile


2867 posts in 2729 days

#10 posted 04-07-2018 01:50 AM

What next my man.
WOW!!! That is beautiful.
Love it.


-- Bob, Western Australia, The Sun came up this morning, what a great start to the day. Now it's up to me to make it even better. I've cut this piece of wood 4 times and it's still too damn short.

View Grumpy's profile


26509 posts in 4654 days

#11 posted 04-07-2018 02:19 AM

Well done Jim. That’s one awesome tool/weapon

-- Grumpy - "Always look on the bright side of life"- Monty Python

View doubleDD's profile


9532 posts in 2846 days

#12 posted 04-07-2018 02:48 AM

You guys did a great job. It sure does look original. Will look great hanging on the wall as a conversational piece.
Would be interesting to know how the hole was formed for the handle.

-- Dave, Downers Grove, Il. -------- When you run out of ideas, start building your dreams.

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

24936 posts in 3908 days

#13 posted 04-07-2018 12:10 PM

Thank you all for the nice comments!

Hi Bubba. No, not Tonto, you what his name means!!

Hi Redoak49. I have been looking all over for the carbon content of these HC spikes and can’t find anything definitive. Being a metallurgist, you should know. I do know I ground it smooth all over in the soft state right out of the forge and it had burrs on the edges. After heat treating, it did not have the burrs when I finish ground it so it is somewhat harder- how much I don’t know. I wish I had access to a Rockwell tester!! I’d really like to test the hardness on a full range of different brand bowl gouges too

Hi Bob, next is to finish my WWII practice bomb of which I found a lot of pieces, all bent up, in the desert this winter. I welded up some of the old pieces and made a rusty one and put it front of our trailer but my wife did not like it as a lawn ornament, so I hung it in the shop.

Hi Dave, it was interesting to watch Chuck shape this ax. He first cut off the point and smashed the end fatter. Then, when it was red hot, he used a narrow punch and cut a long slot from both sides and then put a round punch through the center to push away the metal and form the hole. It came out oval so I turned the wood oval to match.

Cheers, Jim

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View Gene Howe's profile

Gene Howe

12215 posts in 4231 days

#14 posted 04-07-2018 12:38 PM

Really great collaboration, guys. Which one of you gets to be the proud owner?

-- Gene 'The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.' G. K. Chesterton

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

24936 posts in 3908 days

#15 posted 04-07-2018 01:48 PM

Thanks, Gene. I hold the tool..last one to touch it!!

Also, I just got a response from Chuck on the hardening of this ax. Here is what he says:

Regarding the hardness of the spikes. An HC railroad spike is probably like a 1040 grade. Its often commented that they don’t get hard enougth to make a knife. I agree that I would not make an expensive high end knife with a railroad spike. However they make great novelty knifes and are very durable.
Since an ax is hardened to a blue color so that they can be sharpened with a file and toughness is more important than edge holding a railroad spike is not a bad choice. Here are a couple of observations I made while working on the ax.
- the steel needed a water quench to reach maxium hardness.
- after it was hardened a file skated off it.
-I draw the temper to a dark blue color

Hope this helps


-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

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