How to Make a Knife From a Railroad Spike


If you're looking for a unique type of metal crafting project, consider crafting a knife made from a railroad spike, with the spike's distinctive head forming the pommel of the handle. You can make an eye-catching and useful blade that makes a great conversation piece. If you are experienced with basic blacksmithing and have a set of tools and safety gear, you can forge your own spike-knife by following these directions.

Things You'll Need

  • Hearth or forge for heating metal
  • Anvil
  • Blacksmith tongs
  • Blacksmith hammer
  • Insulated gloves
  • Safety goggles
  • Coarse metal files
  • Grindstone or whetstone
  • Optional: Disc-array metal sharpener
  • Heat the spike in until it takes on a cherry-red glow. Grasp the spike with metal-working tongs and place it on the anvil so that the head of the spike is oriented properly. (The elongated edge of the spike's head should be pointing in the same direction as the sharp edge of the finished blade.) Begin hammering and flattening the first one-third of length of the shaft, measuring from the tip of the point back. (Refer to accompanying picture.)

  • Flatten the shank evenly across the width. Work the metal from the beginning of the blade at the handle, moving outward toward the point, until you form the shape in the example picture here. The blade should be 1/8-inch thick. Reheat the blade whenever it cools or becomes too stiff to work easily. When you have the blank form of the blade in the correct shape, reheat it for the next step.

  • Work the blade into a wedge-shape that narrows along the cutting edge of the blade. Begin hammering from the edge near the handle and work forward toward the tip. As the metal is worked into a tapering wedge (viewed in cross-section) the blade will curve upward slightly as you move toward the tip. Flatten the tip of the blade along the last quarter of the length of the blade, measuring back from the point. Hammer the last quarter-length down from the top edge to the cutting edge. Taper the whole tip of the blade down to a sharp point. Reheat the blade whenever it becomes too stiff to work easily. When the blade is formed in the shape pictured in the example here, you are ready for the finishing touches.

  • Sharpen the edge of the blade using a metal file or grindstone to rough in the final taper. Use a whetstone or a disc-array sharpener to put a fine, sharp cutting edge on the blade. Options for finishing the metal surfaces include sand-blasting the handle, putting a brushed finish on the flat of the blade, or polishing the blade with emery paper. Good luck with your project!

Tips & Warnings

  • This is a project for mature adults with blacksmithing experience. Use proper precautions when working with open flame and red-hot, superheated metal. Safety goggles, heavy insulated fire-resistant gloves and a protective apron should be worn. Have fire extinguishing equipment at hand. Remove all flammable materials from the work area.

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  • Photo Credit David A. Claerr
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