A knife Forged from a Railroad Spike Knife
A railroad spike knife is made (….wait for it….) from a railroad spike and it’s a project that seems to be a right to passage for a lot of blacksmiths and bladesmiths. It takes a little knowledge and experience to get it right, but honestly, I find them more of a novelty item.
There are two basic ways to make a knife like this. First by adding some high carbon steel or just drawing out what’s there.
The railroad spike is not high carbon so it’s not going to make a great knife by itself. There are railroad spikes marked “HC” which stands for “Higher Carbon”, but it’s still not high enough to make a great knife.
Most you see will have the handle twisted, which is done by heating the spike in the forge to working temperature, locking it in a vise and twisting it with a wrench. I just used an adjustable wrench, but if you plan to twist square stock often, adding a handle extension helps quite a bit.
I then forged welded a file into this knife. I drew out the end of the spike a bit, split it with a cut off wheel in the grinder (although a hacksaw or bandsaw would work as well) drove the file in, added flux and forge welded it in. After that it’s grinding and heat treating as you would any other knife.
Making a railroad spike knife is more about learning a few blacksmith techniques and having some fun with the forge than anything else. Although it doesn’t come out as an extremely high quality knife, it does come out as a cool blacksmithing and knife making project that you can add a few of your own twist (pun intended).
And these knives to seem to sell, although that could be a perception. You can find them all the time on etsy, knife makers websites, Instagram and at knife shows.