How to Drive Railroad Tie Spikes Into Lumber With Ease

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Homeowners use lumber to create garden walls or retaining walls that hold the dirt in a sloped area of the yard in place. Landscapers position the lumber in the yard or garden and then drive railroad tie spikes through the lumber into the ground to keep the lumber from moving or shifting. Driving a railroad tie spike through lumber is hard work. A simple trick allows the spike to penetrate the lumber and ground with ease.

Things You'll Need

  • Tape measure
  • Power drill
  • Drill bit
  • Lubricating oil or liquid dish soap
  • Paintbrush
  • 4 lb. hammer
  • Determine the placement of the lumber in the yard. Set the lumber in position on the ground.

  • Measure the diameter of the railroad tie spike with a tape measure.

  • Equip a power drill with a standard drill bit that equals the diameter of the railroad tie spike.

  • Drill pilot holes through the lumber every 12 to 18 inches, beginning 12 inches from the end of the lumber and ending no closer than 12 inches from the opposite end of the lumber.

  • Spray or brush lubricating oil or liquid dish soap into the pilot hole and around the end of the railroad tie spike with a small paintbrush.

  • Place the end of the railroad tie spike into the pilot hole and hold it in place with your hand. Tap the head of the railroad tie spike with a 4 lb. hammer to push the railroad tie spike into the pilot hole. Once the railroad tie spike sits 1 to 2 inches into the pilot hole, strike the top of the railroad tie spike forcefully until you drive the spike through the lumber into the ground.

Tips & Warnings

  • Wear eye protection, gloves and a dust mask when drilling pilot holes.
  • Do not drive railroad tie spikes close to the end of the lumber; excess ground pressure at the edges can cause the lumber to splinter and break through the spike.

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References

  • "Grandpa's 5001 Handyman Secrets"; Dr. Myles H. Bader; 2006
  • "The Complete Book of Outdoor Projects"; Time Life Editors; 1998
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