Introduction: Forged Knife From a Railroad Spike

Picture of Forged Knife From a Railroad Spike

today I'll be showing you how to make a knife from a railroad spike. this has been done here before but I have a different process than the one I've seen that you can find here now you may have seen this way before but this other ible is the only one I could find here so I thought I'd show you how I do it have fun and be safe :-}

Step 1: Gather Your Materials

Picture of Gather Your Materials

here's something things you should have
1. A forge (mine is an old hibachi style grill lined with refractory cement using a dollar store hair dryer as a bellow)
2. An anvil (I use a steel I beem and a slab of granite)
3. Hammers (I use a 3lb mini sledgehammer and a 16oz framing hammer for reasons unknown to me)
4. Tongs (I made mine)
5. Bench vice
6. Angle Grinder
7. 2 good size crescent wrenches (I only have one and a monkey wrench)
8. A handy dandy railroad spike

Now I assume you know proper safety procedures like gloves, eye protection etc so I take no responsibility if you cut burn pinch stub your toe or maim yourself in anyway :-}
let's get started shall we?

Step 2: Twist the Handle for Decoration

Picture of Twist the Handle for Decoration

by now you should have everything set up and your forge going so what we're gonna do is heat up the half of the spike with the head.
Once it's red/orange hot take it to your bench vice and clamp the head and grab your wrenches and arrange them as shown in the second picture then give it as many twists as you like (I always do either a full rotation or a rotation and a half) but only do full and half rotations so as to keep the point in the direction it started in

Step 3: Draw Out the Tip

here you'll want to draw out tip of the spike for your blade do this by heating it and striking all four sides equally to keep it uniform.
get the tip as long and thin as you like this will require multiple heats in the forge

Step 4: Shaping the Blade

Picture of Shaping the Blade

first hold the spike flat with the part you want to be the blades edge up and hammer the tip on an angle to give it a flat back.
Then strike the sides of to the blade to start your bevel the blade will start to curve towards the back if you want to straighten it simply work on the blades back to reverse this

Step 5: Bend the Handle

Picture of Bend the Handle

it should be looking like a knife by now but we're not done yet!
now here's where my I beem I have comes in handy you'll need to elevate the blade portion with the edge facing up as shown while the handle is heated give it a few whacks straight down to give it a little curve

Step 6: Grinding Time!

Picture of Grinding Time!

shown it the picture is my angle grinder locked in the bench vice a diy bench grinder
here you'll want to clean off all the scale and refine your blade and grind away anything you don't want

Step 7: Looking Good Almost Done

Picture of Looking Good Almost Done

Ok now we're get close to the final product now what I do at this point is get my blade edge sharp but I don't polish anything because we need to heat treat the blade and temper it by heating it in the forge to a red/orange heat and quenching it in either water or oil after that toss it in the oven at around 350-400 for about an hour and let it cool

Step 8: Finish Up!

now you can clean and polish to your hearts content and sharpen that bad boy up
now that your done go show it off! :-}

1. sharpening and heat treating blades is not something I go into detail on because they could be viable ibles in their own right and I think a few are out there
2. where I live having these spikes isn't legal don't get in trouble
3. if you have any questions or suggestions feel free to ask or add them
4. thanks for reading :-}


PappaB1 (author)2017-05-31

I just built a coal brake drum forge last night....Err this morning. My neighbor has some spike and an piece of track. He has twenty hc spikes. Gonna play with some hot steel soon.

ToddG18 (author)2016-06-09

I guess i'm a lucky guy since i grew up in an area where the old trains used to run back in the 1800's, possibly earlier. We've found old railroad spike all over the place. They are laying all around our barn back home. You can still go find some laying around. We always called it "the ditch" because it was a trench dug in the ground with berms on each side. One day my dad told us that the ditch is where the old train used to run through on the tracks. We've been finding spikes ever since.

BaileyM3 (author)2015-09-25

Where do you get your spikes? The only place I know where to get them is along my local tracks and I was hoping you'd know where to get newer ones, besides ebay

Jake_Makes (author)BaileyM32016-02-23

As far as my experience goes, the older ones are better. All the newer ones I have found have an MC stamped on them, which means they are made of some other alloy, and aren't good for making knives. Why would you want newer ones? Is it because they have less rust? The spikes with less rust usually mean they have less carbon content, cause the higher the carbon content the more rust.

smithy101 (author)BaileyM32015-11-26

that's where I've found mine try looking for a place along the tracks where they've been working recently you may even find a small piece of track to use as an anvil

ShanaL2 (author)smithy1012015-12-09

Can you email me I have a question for you

hjjusa (author)2014-12-08

You do know that only railroad spikes with an HC on th head are suitable for knife making don't you?

PaleHorseRider (author)hjjusa2014-12-08

Are you aware that you can make a knife out of any railroad spike without having people try to correct you on what works.

As long as you have it, you can forge with it. It's not illegal to forge a knife with an old railroad spike nor is it illegal to forge with any other solid piece of metal.

You can destroy the US penny and other US made coins since you could have them for years, the government won't care what you do with it.

So please, don't try to correct another user's project if it works for them & others.

Nickynui (author)PaleHorseRider2015-06-29

technically speaking it IS illegal to destroy coins, since they are federal property. but i agree with you

Jake_Makes (author)Nickynui2016-02-23

No it isn't. If it is illegal, than most tourist attractions have been breaking the law for years with the penny flattening machines. And it isn't illegal anyway. If you read closely enough, you would realize that the law says it is illegal to modify coins for fraudulent purposes.

smithy101 (author)PaleHorseRider2014-12-09

lol at all of this ^

ironsmiter (author)hjjusa2014-12-09

Even the ones marked HC are considered extremely low carbon, by knife making standards.
On the other side of things, knives have been nade of bone, rock, copper... even aluminium makes a servicable blade. High carbon steel just has the advantage of being tougher, and retaining an edge better thn most any other material, for general use.

On a side note, I git a spike knife as a present. It stays sharp as well as some of my cheaper stainless pocket knives. If it is really important, go oldschool, and weld in a bit of tool steel for the blade edge.

piperjon (author)hjjusa2014-12-08

Interesting take on the HC railroad spike carbon composition, among other things.

thunder chief (author)2015-03-09

remember to use high carbon railroad spicks for quality knives.

just curious. is there a way of knowing which is which? markings of any type? I have this and was thinking is doing something similar to this maybe a razor.

your spikes markings are either corroded or bashing in when it was installed but if you can see an HC stamp on them their considered High Carbon other marks if seen are HV and there's one more but I can't recall the mark those have a bit of copper in them

moonchylde (author)2015-02-25

I knew there was a reason I snagged a couple dozen of these spikes last summer (although I think it was mostly the "ooh, neat!" factor rather than any actual usefulness). Now I need to go back; I spotted several piles of spikes scattered around an old train yard, some three feet high (the piles, not the spikes). Now all I need is a forge...

paul dito (author)2014-12-10

Excellent, back when the Embarcadero (San Francisco), was mostly train tracks my Dad and I would walk the dogs looking for spikes. I still have a few. Also, he made an anvil out of a chunk of track, now I just need to work on the forge...


smithy101 (author)paul dito2014-12-10

Thats awesome ive been looking for a piece of track myself for an anvil thanks for your comment :-}

PaleHorseRider (author)2014-12-08

Awesome job my friend! I'll be making a forge sometime this month and forging a few of these myself & with a friend as well!

Hope to see more projects from you in the future!

smithy101 (author)PaleHorseRider2014-12-09

I hope to see what you come up with! thanks for your kind words :-}

Wired_Mist (author)2014-12-08

Forging is a dying art-form; Glad to see someone is having fun with some new ideas :D

smithy101 (author)Wired_Mist2014-12-09

thank you I'll be doing more than just knives if the chance arises. thanks for your comment :-}

hjjusa (author)2014-12-09

Not trying to correct you, it's just that spikes with HC on the top have a higher carbon content, therefore making them suitable for hardening. I believe they are 1035 steel

As a side note did you know these spikes were made for corners only, they must have run out of regular spikes and used them on straight track where I live cause I've found a bunch of

smithy101 (author)hjjusa2014-12-09

incidentally all the one I have, have HC on the head but I wasn't aware of the difference thanks alot

PaleHorseRider (author)hjjusa2014-12-09

Steel is the worst thing to heat up; you want iron since it can take in carbon many times before becoming cripple while low carbon steel cannot.

hjjusa (author)2014-12-09

By the way you did a great job on the knife. Why would it be illegal? I guess I've made a bunch of illegal knives.

smithy101 (author)hjjusa2014-12-09

where I live it's illegal to own the spikes and even more so to go out with a hammer and pluck 20 of them but I wouldn't know anything about that ;-)
thank you for your comment

ironsmiter (author)hjjusa2014-12-09

In certain cities in the USA, any fixed blade over a certain size are prohibited. I presume, around the world, there are places even more restrictive.

vanweb (author)ironsmiter2014-12-09

That cannot be right, there must be more too that regulation as then any standard bread knife would be outlawed in those US cities

ironsmiter (author)vanweb2014-12-09

Well, yes. Those are the CARRY laws. Like in your pocket, or on a belt (ignoring concealed carry technicalities). Put a breadknife in a belt sheath, and try to enter a police station, and see if THEY think it is 'not right'. Knife laws are a crazy hot mess here. Federal, state, city, national parks, government buildings, schools... they all have different, often conflicting regulations. About the only thing you can be sure of is, anywhere you go, SOME law exsists that CAN be used against your right to carry.
I have been detained more than once because my shirt partially covered the belt sheath of my 'extremely dangerous weapon' aka, leatherman wave.

gravityisweak (author)vanweb2014-12-09

It's not exactly right, fixed blades over a certain size are not illegal to own. They are illegal to carry in public unless engaged in hunting/fishing/certain trades. The blade size can vary by state law and even local ordinances within your state.

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