5 Blacksmith Railroad Spike Project Ideas for Forging (With Videos)
Like other crafts, there are no true rules that dictate what materials blacksmiths use. Although nontraditional, railroad spikes are common items that are reworked by blacksmiths.Why work with railroad spikes?
For beginners wanting to refine their hammering technique and get more comfortable with the blacksmithing process in general, railroad spikes are a very forgiving, inexpensive material to practice with.
The shape of railroad spikes is also very accommodating for different types of small projects like the ones detailed below.
If you are a beginner blacksmith wanting to create some functional pieces out of railroad spikes, or a seasoned smith who needs some project inspiration, check out the following project ideas and their corresponding YouTube videos.
What Tools Do I Need for Railroad Spike Projects?
Other helpful materials and tools that are needed include a wooden handle, chisel, spring swage, and a ball peen hammer.
Alternative tools and techniques are offered in the original video tutorials, so as long as you have the basics, you should be able to complete the following projects.
- 50 Large Variety Carbon Steel Railroad Spikes 6.5"
- Sorted & Straight Rustic Spikes
- Vintage Stock (Weathered With Petina & Pitting)
List of Railroad Spike Projects Ideas For Blacksmiths (With Videos & Advice)
1) Railroad Spike Tongs
To make tongs, you will need two railroad spikes, a hammer, punch, chisel, forge, and an anvil or another appropriate work surface. Hammer both spikes flat and then create notches in each spike where they will join together. For a closer look at how this is done, check out the original video.
Reheat your pieces and hammer until they take on a more rounded shape. Use a punch to create a hole in the center of the notched sections of your spikes and insert a metal pin to fasten the pieces together.
2) Railroad Spike Bottle Opener
To make a bottle opener you will need one railroad spike, a vice, a spring swage, a slot punch, a round punch, a hammer, a ball peen hammer, a forge, and an anvil. Begin by marking the spike off at 3 and ¼ inches from the head of the spike. Then heat the spike and put it in a vice and twist the spike to create a decorative spiral effect.
Use a spring swage and fuller the metal down to a ¼ inch at the place you marked off previously. The next step is to cut off the section above the fuller and flatten the top portion of the remaining metal. Make a rectangular hole in the center of the flattened piece using a slot punch.
Then use a round punch to open up the hole created. Create the tab of the bottle opener with a ball peen hammer and finish with vegetable oil or beeswax. For more detailed instructions and visuals of the process, check out the original video here.
3) Railroad Spike Knife
For this project you will need tongs, a hammer, an anvil, a forge, and a grinder. Heat the spike and hammer the tapered end of it until flat to create the blade of the knife. Clean up the edge of the blade with your hammer to refine the shape and create a rounded appearance.
The last step is to grind down the blade, and you have a finished railroad spike knife! It is worth noting that railroad spikes do not make the best knives, but it is a good novelty item and a fun way to practice hammering and grinding. The original video can be found here.
4) Railroad Spike Tomahawk
This project requires a forge, anvil, hammer, tongs, punches, and a wooden handle. To start, heat your railroad spike and begin hammering the tapered end in on itself to create the end of the tomahawk. Then, use punches to create a hole for the handle.
Working on the opposite side of the railroad spike, where the head is, heat and hammer down the head to create the blade of the tomahawk. Grind down the blade and attach the metal piece to a wood handle to complete this project. For visuals on how to create the shape of the blade, check out the original YouTube video.
5) Railroad Spike Garden Bracket
This project is more intermediate or advanced and uses a number of tools and blacksmithing techniques that are more easily understood through visual instruction. To summarize the process, however, you will need three railroad spikes, an anvil, forge, tongs, a vice, punches, etc.
The blacksmith creating this garden bracket attaches the railroad spikes together, flattening one of them and making a decorative filigree for attaching the bracket to a wall. The other two spikes are twisted and curved to create a hook shape for hanging items.
This is a great project for smiths looking to work with multiple spikes and create something more outside-the-box than smaller objects.