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Cutting Rail Road Ties???

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Forum topic by newwoodbutcher posted 711 days ago 6899 views 0 times favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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newwoodbutcher

333 posts in 1453 days


711 days ago

I’m planning to build a 120 ft three tie high retaining wall as well as a few road curbs flower beds and steps with RR Ties. What ’s the best tool for cutting the ties? I’m thinking that using a chainsaw will ruin the chain at some considerable cost. I cut one with a sawzall but it wasn’t easy or very accurate. I’m thinking a 12” circular saw or a portable band saw from Craig’s List might be my best choice. I’m thinking the pitch and sand in the ties will dull any blade pretty quickly. Is it worth it to buy cheap carbide blades and just plan on wasting them? Or steel blades? What are you folks experience? Any advice would be appreciated

-- Ken


11 replies so far

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Dallas

2857 posts in 1090 days


#1 posted 711 days ago

A 20” chain for a chain saw is about $14. Can you buy any other blade any cheaper and sharpen it repeatedly?

There’s no easy way to cut coated ties.

One thing I should mention, check with the local authorities.

When I lived on US2 in Montana and used old ties for a retaining wall on the front yars, the state made me get rid of it because of the chemicals in the wood.

-- Improvise.... Adapt...... Overcome!

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newwoodbutcher

333 posts in 1453 days


#2 posted 711 days ago

So you would use a chain saw? How long will it cut before it needs to be sharpened/replaced?

-- Ken

View Loren's profile

Loren

7265 posts in 2251 days


#3 posted 711 days ago

Most guys who do a lot of this use a 16” Japanese
beam saw. You can do it with a chain saw too.
Be prepared to sharpen your blade and be aware
you might distort the edge channels on the bar.

-- http://lawoodworking.com

View Lifesaver2000's profile

Lifesaver2000

508 posts in 1715 days


#4 posted 711 days ago

Over the years I have installed hundreds of old railroad ties in building parking lots and campsite areas, and we always used a chain saw to cut them. If you are using used ties, it pays to look each one over in the area you plan to cut to remove small rocks, and also look for the occasional piece of iron. As I recall, we could go a day on one sharpening if we didn’t hit any major rocks or anything.

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TopamaxSurvivor

14612 posts in 2279 days


#5 posted 711 days ago

You can keep a chain pretty sharp touching it up with a file. If you are careful and keep it consistent, it will start cutting a curve. Use a guide if necessary or you haven’t done much filing.

-- "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View lunn's profile

lunn

206 posts in 912 days


#6 posted 711 days ago

The chemicals in the wood burns your skin !!! iI built a wall outta them on a hot day wearing shorts using a chainsaw. Sure glad the lake was near by. Lesson learned the hard way.

-- What started as a hobbie is now a full time JOB!

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newwoodbutcher

333 posts in 1453 days


#7 posted 710 days ago

Thak you all. I wouldn’t have thought the chainsaw was the best choice all on my own.

-- Ken

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Grandpa

3051 posts in 1278 days


#8 posted 710 days ago

Wear a helmet with a face shield when doing this. ties get gravel pressed into them since they lay on a gravel bed when in use to hold rails. You will encounter an ocassional gravel and it can be thrown by the chain. I agree that the chain saw is the best tool.

View a1Jim's profile

a1Jim

112001 posts in 2180 days


#9 posted 710 days ago

Ken
As a contractor who has replaced a good number of retaining walls made out of rail road ties I would advise against using them at all. The retaining walls I’ve replaced were full of carpenter ants. I would suggest using ground contact pressure treated 2×12’s or what ever size works for your project or use the concrete retaining wall blocks.

-- http://artisticwoodstudio.com Custom furniture

View gfadvm's profile

gfadvm

10598 posts in 1293 days


#10 posted 710 days ago

Guys that install tie walls use a chainsaw motor with a special ‘tie cutter’ circular blade. I have rented these and they work really well. Call around your local tool rental places. You will dull/ruin a chain in minutes cutting railroad ties.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View Mark Shymanski's profile

Mark Shymanski

4993 posts in 2315 days


#11 posted 682 days ago

Used to heat my home with ties (long time ago in very rural area…the deer never seemed to mind), and used a 24” saw blade mounted on a steel frame and driven from the tractors power take off. You can cut a mess of ties and once you’ve cut a truckload of ties you need a break so you touch up the blade. It worked great, when I moved I gave the saw to a buddy. As far as I know he’s still using it.

-- "Checking for square? What madness is this! The cabinet is square because I will it to be so!" Jeremy Greiner LJ Topic#20953 2011 Feb 2

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