Railroad Spike knife has a name that can raise your eyebrows because of how unique it sounds. The name that it has is because of the tool which is a railroad spike used for forging the knife. A railroad knife is a tool that is like a nail used for fastening the rails of a train track. You can use the railroad spike for designing and carving metals or furniture.

You will easily get railroad spikes available in the market for purchasing, there are more interesting facts regarding the railroad spike knife. This article will enlighten you regarding all this information. You will get to know in-depth about railroad knives, how you will select the best railroad knife and also how you can choose one. We also answered some FAQs that might arise in your mind. Please keep on reading to know more about railroad knives.

Overview of Railroad Spike Knives:

For quite several years the making of railroad spike knives was for entertainment because of how you can give the knife your desired look. You can even make the railroad spike knife at your home if you just follow some simple steps.

The making of the knife is done using a railroad spike because of how it is easily conductive. The nature of the spike is conductive and it is tough for longevity. Furthermore, the railroad spike knife is resistant to wear and tear making it suitable for taking on impact and as well as for performing heavy duty.

Even though the railroad spike is tough to take on impact, the metal of the spike is soft so you can mould it. You can easily twist the spike and it won’t even get scrambled. The soft metal of the railroad spike makes it very malleable that making it easy for you to fore a knife.

The best condition of moulding the railroad spike is when it is hot. If the metal cools down the spikes can easily hit you and also there is more chance of the metal to crackle. To get the perfect type of railroad spike knife you need to hammer the spike when it is hot and glowing.

You will find railroad spikes that are made out of three types of metals. The first one is a spike consisting low amount of carbon, the second one consists of a slightly high amount of carbon and the last one is structural steel. The best quality railroad spike knife is the ones that have higher levels of carbon. These railroad spikes that have high carbon steel in them need to be tempered after hardening so that you get a strong sharp edge.

How to forge your railroad spike knife?

Forging a railroad spike knife is like any other DIY task that you have known before. You don’t need to have years of experience in forging a railroad spike as the steps that we are going to provide have in-depth details. All you need to do is simply visualize how you want to shape the railroad spike knife and then the steps below will be your guidance.

Before you start forging the railroad spike knife you will need to wear gloves to prevent your hands from burning as we mentioned that the metal has to be hot for easy forging. Then you also need to wear an eye protector as you will be around heat and scatterings of metal. So, let us have a look at the steps for forging a railroad spike knife.

  1. Choosing railroad spike: Select the railroad spike that you wish to use for forging the knife. You need to pick a spike that is not rusty and even if there is a little bit of rust present that can be easily removed with the help of heat. Do not remove the rust by yourself by scrapping or trying any other unreliable procedure.
  2. Heating: The process of forging begins with heating. Heat half of the spike which includes the head and not the butt, in a furnace or simply a charcoal fire that has instituted air will be fine. Heat the spike until you see the metal glowing in red or orange colour. Now, after heating the spike use tongs that will help you hold the hot portion and put it on the anvil.


Anvil is a block made out of iron on which any metal is forged into the desired shape. The head of the spike that you have heated should have an elongated edge that will point at the same way as the blade’s edge. Hold on to your wrench and clap the head, use the wrench for rotating the heated metal so you can give twists of your desired numbers.

  1. Forging the tip and blade: Now, that you are done with heating the spike, it is time for you to hit with a heavy hammer that weights around 3.5 pounds. For the beginning, hammer and flatten up to 1/3 portion of the shaft. Measure the 1/3 portion from the tip of the back.


To forge the tip all you have to do is strike from all sides equally and make it as thin and long as the last extend. During this procedure, you have to heat the tip several times for easy forging. You will also need to flatten both sides of the blade’s end evenly.


You don’t need to flatten down the entire length of the blade. Work your direction towards the end by leaning on one side. Just keep an angle in your mind and hammer the tip while the edge of the knife is up. You will see the shape of your blade forming like how you expect in a usual knife.


After you are done with shaping your blade, you can now pick the edge of the blade that you will use for cutting and sharpening. Keep continuing the process of hammering and hitting and you will feel the metal become malleable. Next, you have to follow some small steps:


  • Now, all you need to do is hammer your way until the blade flatters and flickers towards the handle. You need to first position the spike at the edge of the anvil and hit it with the hammer so that the centre of the latter is present at the edge of the anvil. Slowly the blade will start shaping into a handle and this part is known as the knife’s choil.


While hammering keep in mind to keep a check on the spine of the knife. While you are hammering you might see some normal twist forming. You can easily restore the shape while maintaining the centerline.


  • The blade of the knife that you currently see at this point is too thick. You need to flatten the blade and also straighten it using a lighter hammer compared to what you used before. While you work your way through with the lighter hammer you will see the shape of the knife going near perfection.
  • Now, to add detailing to your knife you need a lighter hammer. Detailing on the blade or handle, which includes the choil part will bring the knife close to the last finishing touch.
  • Finally, all you have to do is smoothen out the knife to make the surface flat and even. To smoothen you will need a planishing hammer.


  1. Giving the blade a clean finish: Use a knife sharpener to give your railroad spike knife to give it final shape and finishing. You should use an industrial sharpener that has a belt with both heavy and medium grit.


  1. Increasing durability of the knife: You need to heat the knife to ensure that the edge becomes sharp, and the entire construction of the knife remains strong. For hardening the knife, you need to heat it to 1500 degrees F. At this temperature the knife will turn red how, you can then apply any preferred oil to the blade.



  1. Tempering the knife: Since you have hardened the knife, the knife becomes brittle and is prone to shatter easily. To ensure that doesn’t happen, you need to temper the knife so it becomes a bit soft. Just heating the knife at 500 degrees F will be enough. Cool the knife after heating and then use abrasive paper for sanding. Also, heat the blade till you get to see a wheat colour that has the right temperature.


  1. Adding shine: If you want your knife to bling, you need to give it a nice polish that adds visible shine to it. For that, all you need is emery papers that have heavy grits and some that have fine grits. Start polishing with heavy grits and then work your way till you get a satisfying finish using fine grit.


  1. What kind of steel are railroad spikes?

Ans: Railroad spikes are made out of carbon steel.

  1. How do you get the rust off old railroad spikes?

Ans: To get old rust off railroad spikes you need to soak them in white vinegar. White vinegar helps in dissolving the rust off but you might a lot of it as the rusty spikes need to be completely covered in it.

  1. What can I do with railroad spikes?

Ans: Making knives with railroad spikes is common but there are other tools like tongs, bottle openers, tomahawk and also garden brackets.

  1. How to prevent railroad spike knives from rusting?

Ans: For rust prevention, you need to clean the knife after use and dry it off quickly. And also, you can oil the blade after every use to prevent it from rusting.

Where to buy Railroad Spike Knives


To sum up, we hope that all your curiosity about railroad spike knives is all clear now. You will easily find railroad spike knives to purchase but if you are someone who is an expert in knives, you can easily make your railroad spike knife. Making the knife is fun as you just need to follow some simple steps. You will find it very thrilling while you make your railroad spike knife and as well as add it to your collection. Some basic maintenance will ensure that the railroad spike knife can be used for a long period.

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