Forging a tomahawk from a railroad spike .

Well if your reading this , I am going to take you through how I make a railroad spike into a fully functional  badass tomahawk.   I was working on this today for a customer, and decided to take some pictures to show the process , or at least my process.

Disclaimer: I am dead sure there are better smiths than myself who do this better than myself.  They weren’t in the forge with me today.  Lol.

Step 1. Get a spike or 2. (2-3 like me.. I mess up on these frequently. lol wait.. is that bad to admit?)  

Railroad spikes before being turned into knives and tomahawks.

Railroad spikes before being turned into knives and tomahawks.

Your probably going to want to use a forge for this, but if you don’t have one, a cutting torch might work, but will be expensive to use.  Check out www.whitloxhomestead.com for cheap wood forges, you really can’t beat using wood to forge. Finding coal is hard. Buying it is expensive. Finding someone who doesn’t want your house as collateral to ship it is even more difficult.

Anyway, for this im using a small gas forge called a ‘devil-forge’ . Not sure of the website for them, if you have it comment it below.

Step 2. Heat those suckers up!

Small single burner gas forge.  Brand "Devil-forge"

Small single burner gas forge. Brand “Devil-forge”

Step 3: The handle drift 

If you have a forge already , might not be a bad idea to make one of these… I call it a ‘slit’ or ‘ hawk slit’  .

The hawk slit. Forged from a piece of Coil Spring.

The hawk slit. Forged from a piece of Coil Spring.

This lets me do a nice even slit on both sides of the railroad spike. Drawing this on with soap stone is perfectly fine and I recommend it!

Tomahawk slit started.

Tomahawk slit started.

This part should take you several heats. Don’t get in a rush , or you will mess up. Trust me. I know. I do it alot.

wpid-kimg0233.jpg wpid-kimg0234.jpg

After several heats were almost there.

After several heats were almost there.

Once your  almost all the way through , stop. Don’t drift the hawk all the way through. You still need to flatten out the head of the spike to make a blade. If you’ve drifted through , you will warp this over and over, accidents happen . I have ripped the sides of a drift several times right here. Slow down and ….

Step 4. Forge the hawk’s blade. 

Turn the spike on it’s side and hammer the head down to about 5/16 thick. Don’t go any further, we still have to move some steel around to make a hawk shape.

wpid-kimg0237.jpg

To get your hawk shape, use the peen of your hammer to move steel different ways without flattening it more.

A good horizontal peen hammer will work great. I've heard of smiths having good luck with diagonal peen hammers but I don't have one......yet..

A good horizontal peen hammer will work great. I’ve heard of smiths having good luck with diagonal peen hammers but I don’t have one……yet..

Your blade should be getting close by now. So let’s address that handle drift.  You really could use a piece of steel around 1” to make your own handle. But if your going to do traditional tomahawks, it probably wouldn’t be a bad idea to get a tomahawk drift. I got mine off of ebay I think. I have had it a good while, I really don’t remember where I found it but you get the idea .

Step 5: Drift the hawk.

The tomahawk drift is tapered inward . A typical tomahawk handle should drop in from the top. So this helps keep your drift correct. In the end you should have a tomahawk that won't go flying off when you use it.

The tomahawk drift is tapered inward . A typical tomahawk handle should drop in from the top. So this helps keep your drift correct. In the end you should have a tomahawk that won’t go flying off when you use it.

Keep driving the drift down a little bit at a time. I like to use the cross peen hammer to dress the sides of the hawk  with the drift inside it. This helps stretch a little steel out so when you drive the hawk farther and father, you don’t rip the steel -This happens and it’s heart breaking when it does- .

wpid-kimg0241.jpg

If you took your time, you should have ended up with something along these lines.  Quench it , put your handle in it and enjoy your hand forged tomahawk.

If you took your time, you should have ended up with something along these lines. Quench it , put your handle in it and enjoy your hand forged tomahawk.

Railroad spike tomahawk

Railroad spike tomahawk

Well there you have the broke down ,—-me taking pics as I forge- version of ‘ how to forge a tomahawk from a railroad spike. lol.  I know theres probably things that I could explain better, and in time, I will address those. But for now, here you go.

If you aren’t interested in forging but want to buy a railroad spike tomahawk please message me, or go to the website http://www.wolfsheadforge.com and click on Tomahawks.  If I have any in stock they will be on there.

I am also doing Railroad spike tomahawk AND knife sets in Curly Maple soon.

Curly Maple Tomahawk and Railroad spike knife sets : 200$

Curly Maple Tomahawk and Railroad spike knife sets : 200$

Don’t forget about the newsletter giveaway. All you do is signup here, and you get entered to win a Curly Maple Tomahawk and Railroad spike knife (above) . Cool huh?

Until next time! – Denny 

2 thoughts on “Forging a tomahawk from a railroad spike .

  1. Hey Denny,
    Thanks for the info. I’ve been making hawks for a year or so and they are very tricky. I can nail the slit with a 1 inch chisel but drifting the hole has been a challenge. The hole shifts off center of the blade. Any ideas? Let me know and i can send you a pick. Thanks Chris

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s