David Nighswander wrote:
"I use a 6" long chunk of mainline rail that has been in my family since my
mother was a little girl. We used it to crack walnuts when I was a boy. Mom
would say if we cracked the walnuts she would make fudge. Three boys in an
assembly line could have a cup of walnut meat in no time.
"Now it is my go to backer for riveting, straightening, and flattening in the
"It lives under the bench, ready at a moments notice."
I initially misread this as a six-foot length, not a six-inch length. Gave rise
to some interesting visuals (what color did you say your ox was?...)
Railroad rail is great stuff. I have two nine-inch chunks, though mine may be
narrow-gauge (4" wide base, 4-1/4" high). Mostly I use them as one-hand weights
(i.e. as heavy as I can lift with control with one hand, aided by the inherent
handle-shape of the rail.) They are even more useful as trestles to raise a
finishing press (free-standing "Moxon vise") above bench height, to give
clearance when holding large books. Mine are painted with krylon and have
leather on the bottoms, to avoid scratching the bench or the work.