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Thread: Cutting Railroad Rail?

  1. Recently cut a 4 foot section of rail out of a full (20 ft.) rail. Used a reciprocating saw - I used three blades to make both cuts ((one & one-half per cut) . LENOX blade outperformed all others. It took less than an hour. And this was at a remote site, on the ground kneeling with a cordless DeWalt saw (and 4 batteries).
    Last edited by Bohdan Pasemko; 12-16-2019 at 8:16 PM.

  2. In my metal working class someone cut a piece of rail with the horizontal bandsaw. As I recall it took quite a while.

  3. #18
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    I think the rails get very work hardened in use making the top very resistant to cutting.

  4. #19
    I second that. I've had good luck cutting rr iron with thin cutoff wheels--don't crowd the work, and the wheel will last.

  5. #20
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Millstone, NJ
    Quote Originally Posted by John K Jordan View Post
    I just saw this. Years ago I cut a piece of railroad rail and make a small anvil. I first tried a metal-cutting saw blade but ruined a couple of blades trying. (It was almost like the rail was hardened. Could it have been work-hardened from the wheels? Does steel even get work hardened? If hardened, could it be annealed first?)

    I ended up cutting it with an oxy-acetylene torch, using the biggest one I had. It worked but sure was a mess. The torch would not cut completely through the thick part so I had to work my way around, "gouging" out rough channels until I cut through. The problem was the torch would melt the steel fine but since it couldn't blow through the other side the gas pressure blew globs of molten steel out the top instead, towards me! It was tricky to stay out of the way. It was also the roughest, messiest cut I ever made!

    I now have a plasma torch and I'm not sure it would work any better on the thick part, at least the one I have. Mine will cut through 1/2" cleanly but easily a sloppy 1", havent tried anything thicker.. Perhaps the air pressure would blow molten steel out the front just like the oxy-acetylene torch. It would be interesting to try, to see if the plasma would blow all the way through the 2" thick part.


    steel does get work hardened.

    Milwaukee has some new bandsaw blades i bought in a pinch this summer. the box said it was good for thick steel but the teeth looked agressive. and they were expensive, When i got back to the job site my parter got mad at me telling me i bought the wrong blades. We cut pipe everyday for 2 months without having to change a blade. It was mild steel but i think its worth a shot. dont force it though.

    My first thought would be to take a thin wheel on a grinder and run it to the nut, all the way around and then cut center with bandsaw. then grind flat once its apart

  6. #21
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Iowa USA
    RR Rail is tough stuff, can be hard on blades. Cut with a torch, plasma cutter or abrasive wheel. If it was just work hardened it would just be the top, the whole thing is hard.
    Last edited by Bill George; 01-27-2021 at 8:59 PM.
    Retired Guy- Central Iowa.HVAC/R , Cloudray Galvo Fiber , -Windows 10

  7. #22
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Somewhere in the Land of Lincoln
    Rail can be cut by abrasive blade, torch, or bandsaw. While we don't use a bandsaw it's been done. An abrasive blade like we use will take about 2 minutes for a full cut. It's an 18" blade as I recall. I have never saw it done but they used to take a cold chisel and score the rail top and then "snap" it. Rail is an alloy and is very durable. As was mentioned it's rated by weight per 3' section. We use exclusively 136 or 141 pound rail these days. If you want to see the difference compare even a piece of 90 pound to a current piece. Wider base and taller and the web and head is thicker. Ribbon rail has been the standard for some time. Jointed rail has many issues that ribbon rail eliminates.

  8. #23
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Mooresville,N.C,Race City,USA
    David, find a metal supply house and see if they will do a few cuts on there bandsaw for a reasonable price. I try to deal with the same guys for my supplies and they have cut some rail and I-beams for me.

  9. #24
    Join Date
    May 2022
    Athens WV
    Here's an interesting link which may be of help.

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