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View Full Version : Bed frame steel...is it really as bad as it seems?



winchman
04-30-2010, 07:52 PM
Over the years I've had several bed frames (angle iron) given to me to use in projects. I've always had bad experience with the stuff. It's hard to cut or drill, and it doesn't seem to weld worth a flip, either.

Is there something unique to the material that makes it unsuitable for fabrication or something other than bed frames?

Bill in Ky
04-30-2010, 08:11 PM
I don't know what they use to be made of, but now they are made from railroad rails. I saw a show on the Discovery Channel on recycling railroad rails. They are made into bed rails and metal fence posts.

uncle pete
04-30-2010, 08:27 PM
In my experience bed rails are somewhere close to a spring type steel, That stuff seems to eat even very good quality hss drill bits, Sometimes even free material costs far too much.

Pete

rolland
04-30-2010, 08:39 PM
When I was much younger it was decided that "we" needed a gocart. so a friend and myself got some bed rails and many many hacksaw blades later came to the conclusion that a cutting torch was the only way. I have never found bed rails good for anything other than fence posts. Apparently they are made of hardened/spring steel. Even carbide bits have a problem with some I have tried to drill.

Kibby
04-30-2010, 08:44 PM
In my experience bed rails are somewhere close to a spring type steel, That stuff seems to eat even very good quality hss drill bits, Sometimes even free material costs far too much.

Pete

I can personally attest to this. I blew through 4 drill bits recently on dolly I made for my sandblaster out of bed rails. All I wanted to do was drill holes for casters, and the darn stuff work-hardened so quickly. I felt like I was beat up after all that.

metalmagpie
04-30-2010, 08:54 PM
I cut it with a horizontal bandsaw, punch it with an ironworker, and bolt it together. Works great.

What exactly is the problem with welding it? It's spring steel, of course, and as such needs to be welded like a tool steel.

MM

Black_Moons
04-30-2010, 08:56 PM
Sometimes even free material costs far too much.
Pete

Definately! I have some of these bedrails too.. No idea what to do with em, people keep saying I can't throw em out.. I keep saying theres no way in hell im gonna sandblast lengths of 0.001" thick mystery metal tubing to recover it, and no idea what to do with the sections as a whole.

brian Rupnow
04-30-2010, 09:07 PM
I have built many many things out of "bed angle". It may be horrible stuff to work with, it has hard spots, and it can "blow back" at you when you are welding it.-----But---ITS FREE!!!!!!!!!!!! I love it. Although the last few years with scrap steel being worth so much, the other scavengers have it all picked up by the time I get out of bed.---Damn!!!!

Evan
04-30-2010, 10:22 PM
By far the best "free" steel is from the shipping frames for recreational vehicles such as quads and snow machines. The stuff is clean with no scale and is clear coated so it won't rust and discolour the merchandise. It comes in square thinwall tubes of 1.5" and 1" and 3/4", Angles, and sheets up to 3x3 with a few spot welds here and there. The welds are light and easy to cut and some pieces can be had up to about 8 feet long.

Tim Clarke
04-30-2010, 10:56 PM
Working at the local Garbage company for the last 30 plus years, I've salvaged all kinds of bed rails. The hardness of the angle iron seems to vary hugely. If it really is recycled rairoad rail, don't they weld that all the time? Thermite?

My buddy bought a new Mori-Seiki 5 axis a couple years ago, one of the guys working for him bagged the all steel shipping container and uses it for a tractor shed.

There seems to be no limit to the great stuff that can be salvaged. If the bed rails are wrong for your uses, collect 'em anyway and use for trading stock at the local scrappers, or make king sized tomato frames and peddel 'em on Craigs List.


Tc

x39
04-30-2010, 10:57 PM
A timely topic. I recently came into possesion of a bed frame, was debating hauling it to the dump, but I have the misfortune of being able to see potential in every morsel of material I come across. Anybody know what the stuff is? 1075 maybe?

dockrat
04-30-2010, 11:55 PM
At last count I have made four rolling tables all with bed frame angle. No trouble cutting it with the horizontal bandsaw or cutoff saw. Didn't have any trouble welding it. I can't recall that I ever attempted to drill it tho.

Machinist-Guide
05-01-2010, 01:03 AM
Bed rails are like a box of chocolates "You never know what you're going to get"

oldtiffie
05-01-2010, 02:59 AM
Over the years I've had several bed frames (angle iron) given to me to use in projects. I've always had bad experience with the stuff. It's hard to cut or drill, and it doesn't seem to weld worth a flip, either.

Is there something unique to the material that makes it unsuitable for fabrication or something other than bed frames?

P'raps its got something to do with the pounding its designed to take for its intended purpose.

rolland
05-01-2010, 03:17 AM
P'raps its got something to do with the pounding its designed to take for its intended purpose.

that makes sense, they have to carry a heavy load at times

oldtiffie
05-01-2010, 03:31 AM
And not just the bed either - of course.

DougA
05-01-2010, 08:11 AM
I have done a few projects with bed rails. It is a mixed bag. Drilling sometimes is hard but with a drillpress you can usually push through. Welding it I find sometimes if you don't lay down a long bead the surface material will pull out with the weld.

GNO
05-01-2010, 11:36 AM
I am planning to try making a knife or two with the material its got to be better than a lot of that stainless c--- that is used for, [knives- ??] :>]

Paul Alciatore
05-01-2010, 01:23 PM
Just a thought, but I would be tempted to cut it with a chop saw with an abrasive blade.

gnm109
05-01-2010, 06:47 PM
I must have gotten some soft bed frames. I built the frame for my Rotary Phase Converter out of bedframes. I didn't drill it but it cut nicely on my bandsaw and it welded nicely. If you have any bed frames you don't want, send them over.

I never saw a piece of metal I didn't like. LOL. :)



http://i144.photobucket.com/albums/r188/gnm109/GeneralPhotos003.jpg

Mosside
05-01-2010, 09:19 PM
The bed frames I have used have been high tensile steel. What is that matter with that? Just save it for the jobs that you need it for. I have several sets set aside for projects that need steel like that.

bruto
05-02-2010, 01:45 AM
I've done a lot of stuff with bed frames over the years. It's kind of brittle and hard to work, but welds fine, and as others have pointed out, it's usually free, and pretty clean. I found that although it's nasty to drill, a punch works pretty well, and so does a hand cranked post drill, which puts slow steady pressure down without melting bits.

Second the RV and tractor shipping frames. I don't know whether John Deere still uses the same stuff, but some years ago they used to ship their Asian goods in crate frames made in part with rectangular tubing with radiused outside edges that was really nice.

boslab
05-02-2010, 02:33 AM
bed rail over here are normally high carbon high manganese, indeed very similar to rail, the manganese gives a high strength, with the unfortunate property of rapid work hardening, useful for rail steels, and also for wear steels in general, but unfortunate for bed rail recyclers as you have noticed it can take some cutting, if you are going to reuse it then abrasive cutoff wheel is probably best.you can heat the cut zone to dull red and air cool if its already hard.Be warned that due to its nature you get loads of microcracks around drilled holes which can propogate under stress, particularly with a bluntish drill.
I would not like to use it for anything critical as it can fail suddenly when cold if the chemistry's right, good wear strips for micro digger buckets though.
A lot of manufacturers over here are now buying flat narrow strip and folding, they now seem to be taking an alloy that from what ive seen is similar to high strength steel banding aka signode type stuff.
mark

polepenhollow
05-02-2010, 11:36 AM
I should have a bumper sticker.
"I BRAKE FOR BEDFRAMES"
They're great stuff. Cut it with a chop saw, drill it with a good drill bit. No problem.
K Lively