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I am going to make a table out of some old railroad ties, what would be the the best way to plane them, it docent have to be perfect, what is a good tool to use, would a jack plane form home depot work or would another tool be better?
 

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You do realize that they were treated with some nasty stuff. What kind of Table is this going to be?

If you decide to go ahead with this project using the ties, You could make a rail & carriage system and use a router to plane em!!

This will give you an idea of what I mean...



You can get a bit like this from MLCS Router Bits for under $20 bucks that will cut a 1 1/2" flat bottom swath across the surface makes things go pretty fast.

 

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+1 that railroad ties are not a good material for a table. Preservatives, lots of cracks, potential for embedded metal.

I would get a metal detector before attempting to work on these with cutting tools.

A Stanley No 5 hand plane, aka Jack plane is perhaps shorter than desired. A Stanley No. 7 aka jointer would be better due to longer sole. You are not likely to find one of these at the big box stores.

I would go with the recommendation of a router sled. It will be much easier on the body. Just watch out for nails/screws, etc.
 

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The older ties will have rocks embedded in them also, another thing is creosote. Some of the older ties will be soaked in creosote which has been outlawed because it causes cancer, just a thought.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
The railroad ties are pretty clean, ive already cut them before to make a structure, there's no metal or rocks in them, but im not sure if they were soaked in creosote. I was wanting to make a coffee table but im going to make it out of some old fencing i have instead.
Im still curious about the railroad ties, i have lots of ideas for them. I have seen lots of furniture made with them, do they use ties that were never soaked in creosote or do they just coat them with polyurethane?
 

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Never had a desire to cut railroad ties. I always thought they would smell bad of what ever they must soak them in. Electric and telephone poles looks like the same material? What do you plan to finish the table with? Let us know how it turns out when it is finish.
 

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I'm an electrical journeyman lineman and all of our poles are treated with creosote. Really nasty stuff in my opinion. After being on a pole for any length of time, your clothes are saturated with the smell of it.

It is definitely not something you want in your living room. I was under the impression that railroad ties were the same but I could be wrong. I just know utility poles are treated with it.
 

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I'd run far and fast from any railroad ties. I wouldn't even use them for landscaping outside. If it is rustic aged wood you want, look for barn wood or beams instead. The risks associated with working with the stuff vastly outweigh any benefit. On top of that, you're liable to gum up blades or do actual damage to your tools. :no::thumbdown:
 

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Jesus209 said:
The railroad ties are pretty clean, ive already cut them before to make a structure, there's no metal or rocks in them, but im not sure if they were soaked in creosote. I was wanting to make a coffee table but im going to make it out of some old fencing i have instead.
Im still curious about the railroad ties, i have lots of ideas for them. I have seen lots of furniture made with them, do they use ties that were never soaked in creosote or do they just coat them with polyurethane?
As someone else mentioned, the furniture you've seen was likely made out of barn beams or old industrial timbers, not railroad ties.
 

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Not that I plan working with railroad ties, but if you sealed them with something like shellac or a primer would that also seal in the smell? I would even wonder if a finish would stay on them?
 

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The only use that I can think of for old railway ties is a cheap and nasty-looking landscape retaining wall that sweats creosote stink on warm days.
Fence posts here are usually western red cedar, locally sawn as 4x4 or 6x6. Anything more massive, people usually cut up logs for outdoor furniture.

Whether its a RR tie or not, no matter what sorts of inclusions (metal/rocks) you discover, the knots are going to be the texture of bone. Hand planing will be exhausting. The poor man's planer-mill is a router on a sled.
 
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