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Thread: Does anyone else shave with old car springs?

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    DVW
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    Default Does anyone else shave with old car springs?

    I find that old vehicle springs make a great straight razor. The springs that I have used in the past are on the "lower carbon" side of "high carbon" steels. Don't get me wrong, they are very hardenable but probably less than .70% carbon. These make excellent razors in my opinion. They are easy to hone and stay sharp for a long time when maintained properly with a strop. I find them to be a joy to use and think that it is ironic that "junk steel" can make such a fine instrument. Just curious if anyone else had noticed the same thing?
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    Senior Member blabbermouth PaulFLUS's Avatar
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    A while ago I had the idea to make a razor from old file steel. To date I have had only failures but I have not given up on the idea. Never tried leaf springs but it seems like a handy size and thickness. The problem (well, one of them at least) I had with the file was getting one thick enough.
    As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. PR 27:17

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    Most car leaf springs are not thick enough and are too wide. I cut a slice off of them so they are about 1.5" wide. Then I forge them down to 1" wide. This also thickens them up so that they are thick enough to get the proper geometry. For instance the last one I did was only 1/4" thick to start with, but ended up over 0.35" thick and 1" wide after forging. That gave me enough to grind a razor out of it. With the slice that I cut off, I can make a "blacksmith knife".

    Coil springs are too thick and are not wide enough. Many car coil springs are simply too small, but a truck coil spring would work. I've been thinking of forging a razor out of a 3/4 ton Dodge Ram coil spring that I have laying around but have not done it yet. I have made integral kitchen knives and hunting knives out of them though. They seem to forge, heat treat, grind and sharpen like leaf springs so I think they are the same or very similar steel.

    Personally I have had good luck with car springs. However I can't say the same for files and wrenches. Steel from those tend to be hit and miss. My guess is that manufactures can get away with making a poor quality file, but it's a lot harder to get away with making a poor quality car suspension part, at least in the US anyways.

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    Senior Member blabbermouth rolodave's Avatar
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    I had a and uncle who made skinning knives out of leaf springs.
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    DVW
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    Quote Originally Posted by rolodave View Post
    I had a and uncle who made skinning knives out of leaf springs.
    That’s how I started learning to make knives 30 years ago. That and the library. There was no YouTube or even the internet. I couldn’t just order whatever steel I wanted, but there were plenty of old cars sitting in fields.

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    Senior Member blabbermouth PaulFLUS's Avatar
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    Not thick enough, really? Hm. I guess maybe I haven't looked that closely but the leaf springs on my 3/4 ton van seem thicker but I have never measured them.
    As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. PR 27:17

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    At this point in time... gssixgun's Avatar
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    Many years ago there was a Sword Maker in Colorado Springs that made Katanas from old spring steel. We got to talking one night at a Martial Arts seminar and one thing that stuck with me was him saying that when he went to the Junk Yards to pull springs, he looked for the oldest trucks he could find..
    Said they had the best steel for the swords, I have no idea, it just stuck in my brain for about 40 years now
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    Senior Member blabbermouth
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    Quote Originally Posted by gssixgun View Post
    Many years ago there was a Sword Maker in Colorado Springs that made Katanas from old spring steel. We got to talking one night at a Martial Arts seminar and one thing that stuck with me was him saying that when he went to the Junk Yards to pull springs, he looked for the oldest trucks he could find..
    Said they had the best steel for the swords, I have no idea, it just stuck in my brain for about 40 years now
    Could it be that the old steel was not a recycled steel?

    Bob
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    The Hurdy Gurdy Man thebigspendur's Avatar
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    Just keep in mind old cars like from the 50s with leaf springs suffered the springs simply snapping over time. Newer ones rarely suffer that fate so when you think about modern steel quality.....
    No matter how many men you kill you can't kill your successor-Emperor Nero

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    DVW
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    Quote Originally Posted by PaulFLUS View Post
    Not thick enough, really? Hm. I guess maybe I haven't looked that closely but the leaf springs on my 3/4 ton van seem thicker but I have never measured them.
    I find that car and light truck springs are usually a bit over 1/4" thick, but that is before polishing them. They all need to have the pits removed from the surface that narrows them down quite a bit. Leaf springs from large trucks can be much thicker than that though. Some are monstrously large.

    Just keep in mind old cars like from the 50s with leaf springs suffered the springs simply snapping over time. Newer ones rarely suffer that fate so when you think about modern steel quality.....
    I have actually witnessed that on a 1955 Jeep. I'm not sure if it was due to metal quality, type of steel, heat treatment or just the fact that my grandfather beat the snot out of it for decades on end but it did happen.
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