Cool Things To Do With Railroad Spikes

Holding a railroad spike, once a vital part of the railway system, is like holding a piece of history. From the rustic charm of a barn board coat rack to the elegance of a hand-forged knife, railroad spikes are more than just discarded metal. 

They’re a gateway to a world of artistic expression and functional design. Whether you’re a skilled blacksmith or just looking for a weekend project, these spikes offer endless possibilities. 

In this blog post, we’ll explore the most extraordinary and innovative ways to transform railroad spikes into art, tools, and home décor. Get ready to embark on a creative journey that bridges the gap between the past and the present, all through the versatile and inspiring medium of railroad spikes.

History and Significance of Railroad Spikes

Railroad spikes, dating back to the early 1830s, were invented by Robert Livingston Stevens to fasten rails to wooden ties. Still used by most North American railroads, these spikes symbolize industrial progress and innovation. 

Recently, they have been repurposed by artists and hobbyists for creative projects, connecting historical significance with a modern expression. The enduring legacy of railroad spikes reflects their engineering efficiency and cultural impact as a symbol of human achievement and technological advancement.

Understanding the Material and Dimensions of Railroad Spikes

Railroad spikes are typically made from low-carbon steel, a material that balances malleability and strength. Some variants, known as HC spikes, contain slightly higher carbon content but are still considered low carbon. 

A standard railroad spike measures between 5 and 5.5 inches in length and has a cross-section of 9/16″ square. These dimensions and material composition are designed to ensure that the spikes can be driven into wooden ties without breaking, while also holding the rails securely. The weight of a typical spike is approximately one-half pounds

For those interested in repurposing railroad spikes for creative projects, understanding these characteristics can guide the selection and treatment of spikes, informing decisions about welding or forging techniques, and inspiring designs that leverage the spike’s natural shape and size. The material and dimensions of railroad spikes reflect their functional requirements and offer opportunities for innovative use.

Cool things to do with Railroad Spikes

Artists, DIY enthusiasts, and hobbyist welders love railroad spikes, those iconic pieces of industrial history. Their rustic charm and sturdy construction make them ideal for various creative projects. 

If you want to add a touch of vintage flair to your home or create a unique piece of art, railroad spikes are the perfect choice. Here are 15 cool things you can do with railroad spikes:

1. Railroad Spike Tongs

Railroad spike tongs might seem like an unusual concept at first glance. But delve into the world of blacksmithing, and you’ll find a fascinating blend of history, creativity, and functionality. 

An old, rusty spike from the railway system, can be transformed into a pair of functional tongs. This transformation isn’t just about bending metal; it’s about giving new life to something that was once forgotten. 

Whether you’re a seasoned blacksmith or a DIY enthusiast, crafting tongs from railroad spikes offers a rewarding experience. The journey connects us with our past while allowing us to create something new and useful. It’s not just a project; it’s a celebration of human ingenuity.

2. Railroad Spike Bottle Opener

Turning a railroad spike into a bottle opener is a brilliant example of repurposing with flair. This isn’t just about opening bottles; it’s about opening a window into the world of creativity. A railroad spike, once used to secure tracks, now becomes a conversation starter at gatherings.

Here’s why crafting a railroad spike bottle opener is such a cool thing:

  • History in Hand: You’re holding a piece of the past every time you pop open a drink.
  • DIY Delight: It’s a project that’s accessible to beginners yet satisfying for seasoned craftsmen.
  • Unique Aesthetic: The rustic charm of the spike adds character to a functional item.
  • Gift Potential: It’s a personalized gift that tells a story.

3. Railroad Spike Knife

Crafting a knife from a railroad spike? It’s not as far-fetched as it sounds. First, you’ve got to find the right spike. Rusty, worn, full of character. Then, the forge. Heat that spike until it’s glowing, alive, and ready to be shaped. 

Now comes the hammering. Bang, bang, bang! It’s a rhythm, a dance, turning steel into a blade. Twist the handle, and give it a personality. Temper it, sharpen it, and there you have it. A knife. Not just any knife, but one with a story, a soul. 

It’s a tool, yes, but it’s also art, history, craftsmanship. It’s a connection to a time when things were made by hand, with care, with passion. It’s not just about making something; it’s about creating something meaningful, something beautiful. It’s about taking the old and making it new again. 

4. Railroad Spike Wall Hook

A railroad spike wall hook? It’s not just a hook; it’s a statement. You start with a spike, something so simple, so ordinary. Heat it up, and it becomes something else, something ready to be shaped. 

Hammer the head flat so it will hug the wall. Now, the other end, bend it into a hook. Not just any hook, but YOUR hook. Strong, graceful, unique. Cool it, polish it, and there it is. A hook? No, it’s more than that. It’s a piece of you, a piece of art. 

Hang your coat, your hat, your dreams on it. It’s not about making anything; it’s about making something that speaks to you, something that tells a story. 

5. Railroad Spike Tomahawk

A railroad spike tomahawk? Yeah, you heard that right. You start with a spike, something so ordinary, and then the forge. Heat it up until it’s glowing, alive, ready to be something more. 

Now comes the hammering. Bang, bang, bang! It’s a dance that turns steel into a blade. Twist the handle, and give it a personality. Temper it, sharpen it, and there you have it. A tomahawk. Not just any tomahawk, but one with a story, a soul. It’s a tool, yes, but it’s also art, a symbol of strength and creativity. 

Whether you hang it on the wall or take it on an outdoor adventure, a railroad spike tomahawk is more than just a cool thing to do; it’s a way to connect with a craft that has stood the test of time. It’s about reinventing the old. 

6. Railroad Spike Candle Holder

A railroad spike candle holder is something special. You start with a spike, something tough, something that’s seen the world. Then, the forge. Heat it up until it’s glowing, ready to be something new. 

Now comes the shaping. Bend it, twist it, make it dance. It’s a rhythm, a connection between you and the metal. Shape the base, make it strong, ready to hold the light. Twist the top, give it flair, make it sing. Cool it, polish it, and there it is. 

Light a candle, set the mood, and tell a story. It’s not just about creating things; it’s about creating meaningful things. That’s the beauty of the railroad spike candle holder.

7. Railroad Spike Coat Rack and Hat Shelf

The coat rack and hat shelf are made from railroad spikes, which are rugged pieces of steel. Heat ’em up, make ’em dance. Bend ’em, twist ’em, make ’em yours. Cool ’em, polish ’em, make ’em shine. Now, the wood. Sand it, stain it, love it. Attach the spikes, make ’em strong. Hang your coat, your hat, your dreams.

It’s not just a coat rack; it’s a piece of you. It’s art, creativity, craftsmanship. It’s rustic charm, a touch of the forge in your home. It’s a conversation starter, a story, a journey. It’s not the making that matters; it’s the creating that speaks, something that sings. That’s the beauty of the spike coat rack. It’s not a project; it’s an adventure, a dance, a challenge. It’s something truly special.

8. Railroad Spike Garden Art

Now that’s a combination that sparks curiosity, railroad spikes, and hat shelves.

First, the garden art. You take those spikes, heat them up, and bend them into shapes. Flowers, birds, abstract forms – the choice is yours. It’s a dance between you and the metal, a rhythm that turns something ordinary into something extraordinary. Cool them, paint them, place them in your garden. They become a focal point, a conversation starter, a touch of industrial charm amidst the greenery.

Next, the hat shelf. Similar to the coat rack, but with a twist. Bend the spikes into hooks, attach them to a piece of wood, and there you have it. A place to hang your hats, a piece of functional art that tells a story.

What you end up with is more than just garden art and a hat shelf. It’s a statement, a testament to creativity and craftsmanship. 

9. Railroad Spike Wine Rack 

A railroad spike wine rack is not just a quirky idea; it’s a fusion of history, creativity, and elegance. It’s not just bending metal; it’s breathing life into something forgotten.

You start with the spikes, those sturdy pieces of steel. Heat them up, and bend them into shape. It’s a process that requires skill, patience, and a touch of creativity. The spikes become the holders, cradling each bottle with care.

Next, the frame. Choose a piece of wood that speaks to you. Sand it, stain it, make it beautiful. Attach the spikes, and align them perfectly. It’s a dance between wood and metal, form and function.

What you end up with is more than just a wine rack. It’s a piece of art, a conversation starter, a statement. This is a way to add a touch of industrial to your home without losing its warmth.

10. Railroad Spike Fire Poker 

Railroad spike fire pokers are a concept that incorporates a piece of industrial history into a hearth tool. Here’s how it’s done:

  • Finding the Right Spike: Start with a railroad spike, a symbol of strength and endurance. It’s not just a piece of metal; it’s a connection to a time when railroads were the lifeblood of the nation.
  • Shaping the Poker: Heat the spike, bend it, shape it into a poker. It’s a dance of fire and metal, a transformation from something ordinary into something extraordinary.
  • Adding Personal Touch: Customize it, make it yours. Whether it’s a twist in the handle or a special finish, it’s a chance to add a personal touch.
  • The Final Product: What you end up with is more than just a fire poker. It’s a piece of art, a conversation starter, a functional tool that tells a story.

11. Railroad Spike Letter Opener

A railroad spike letter opener is a delightful blend of history, craftsmanship, and everyday utility. Here’s how this unique idea unfolds:

  • Choosing the Spike: Start with a railroad spike, a relic from a bygone era.
  • Crafting the Opener: Heat it, shape it, and hone it into a letter opener. It’s not just bending steel; it’s sculpting, creating, and giving new life to something old.
  • Personalizing the Piece: Add your touch. A twist, a curve, a special finish. You can customize it to suit your tastes.
  • The Finished Product: That tool you now have isn’t just a tool – it’s a conversation piece, an art piece, a connection to the past.

12. Railroad Spike Keychain

A railroad spike keychain is a small, functional accessory made from a repurposed railroad spike. Here’s how this intriguing idea comes to life:

  • Selecting the Spike: Begin with a railroad spike, a sturdy piece of steel that once held the tracks together. It’s a piece of the past, ready to be transformed.
  • Shaping the Keychain: Heat the spike, cut it, and mold it into a keychain. It’s a delicate process, a balance between strength and finesse, turning something rugged into something refined.
  • Adding Character: Customize it. Maybe it’s a special engraving or a unique twist. It’s an opportunity to infuse personality into the piece.

It’s about taking something common and making it uncommonly beautiful. It’s about connection, creativity, and the joy of making something by hand.

13. Railroad Spike Drawer Pulls

Railroad Spike Drawer Pulls are handles crafted from old railroad spikes. Cool, right? Now, why would someone use a railroad spike for a drawer handle? It’s all about style and creativity.

Walking into a room with sleek, modern furniture is like stepping into a dream world. Then, your eyes catch something unexpected. The drawer pulls! They’re rugged, they’re rustic, and they’re made from railroad spikes. 

These aren’t just handles; they’re a conversation starter. “Where did you get these?” your friends might ask. And you’ll have a story to tell. A story of repurposing, of reviving something old and forgotten.

14. Railroad Spike Garden Gate

Railroad Spike Garden Gate is a garden gate crafted from old railroad spikes. So, let’s break this down.

You’ve got these spikes, right? They’re old, they’re rusty, but they’re solid. Now, you want a garden gate. You could go to the store, buy a regular gate, and call it a day. But where’s the fun in that?

Instead, you take these spikes, and you start to see something more. You see a gate, a unique, one-of-a-kind gate that’s going to make your garden stand out.

You lay out a design, something that speaks to you. Maybe it’s simple, maybe it’s intricate. You start welding, bending, and shaping. The spikes come together, and suddenly, it’s not just metal; it’s art.

And it’s not just about looks. This gate is strong. It’s weathered trains and storms; it can handle a little rain.

15. Railroad Spike Wind Chimes 

Railroad Spike Wind Chimes are musical instruments created from old railroad spikes, producing soothing sounds when the wind blows. Here’s how it works:

You gather a handful of railroad spikes, each one a relic of the industrial age, now waiting for a new purpose. You’ll need some string or wire, something to hold these spikes together. And then, you’ll need a vision.

You start by arranging the spikes, deciding how they’ll hang, and how they’ll interact with the wind. Maybe you’ll add some other pieces, some beads or shells, something to add a little flair.

Then, you start assembling. You tie the spikes, you string the beads, and you create something beautiful. 

Where to Find and How to Clean Railroad Spikes?

Finding and cleaning railroad spikes can be an exciting adventure for craft enthusiasts and collectors. Here’s a guide to help you through the process:

Where to Find Railroad Spikes?

  • Railroad Tracks and Abandoned Railways: These are the natural habitats of railroad spikes. A walk along these paths might reveal some hidden treasures.
  • Online Marketplaces: Websites like eBay or Etsy often have vintage or salvaged railroad spikes for sale.
  • Flea Markets and Antique Stores: These places are gold mines for finding unique items, including railroad spikes. Don’t forget to check salvage yards specializing in architectural salvage.

How to Clean Rusty Railroad Spikes?

Once you’ve found your spikes, they might need a little TLC. Here’s how to get them looking their best:

  • White Vinegar Bath: Submerge the spikes in white vinegar. The rust reacts with the vinegar, dissolving it. Leave them in there for a while, and the rust will be gone.
  • Navel Jelly: This rust remover can be found at hardware stores. Slather it on with an old paintbrush (wearing gloves, of course), and watch the rust disappear.
  • Simmering Vinegar Bath: This method, suggested by a crafty Reddit user, involves simmering the spikes in a vinegar bath. It’s like the white vinegar method but with a little extra kick.

Tips and Techniques for Working with Railroad Spikes

Working with railroad spikes opens up a world of creativity and craftsmanship. Here’s a guide to help you navigate this exciting endeavor:

Crafting Tools and Objects with Railroad Spikes

Railroad spikes are versatile and can be transformed into various tools and objects. Here’s how:

  • Making Knives and Chisels: By red-hotting a spike, blacksmiths can hammer it into a flat blade. They then shape the edge into a cutting edge and sharpen it. Voila! You’ve got a knife or chisel.
  • Creating Bottle Openers: With some clever shaping and bending, a railroad spike can become a handy bottle opener. It’s functional art!

Removing Spikes

Need to remove a spike from a track? Here’s how:

  • Using a Heel Bar: Think of it as a specialized crowbar designed to catch under the spikes.
  • Lever Technique: You can slide a piece under the spike and use it as a lever to pry it up.

Getting More Length Out of Spikes

Want to stretch a spike? Here’s a technique:

  • Heating and Hammering: By heating the spike until it’s red hot and then hammering it flat and thin, you can get more length without losing strength.

Safety Tips

Safety is paramount. Here’s how to stay safe:

  • Wear Protective Gear: Gloves and eye protection are a must, especially when heating spikes.
  • Work in a Well-Ventilated Area: This helps you avoid inhaling any harmful fumes.
  • Check Local Regulations: Before collecting spikes from active tracks, make sure you have permission.
  • Ensure Smooth Installation: When installing spikes, make sure the position is smooth and flat.
Cool Things To Do With Railroad Spikes


Q1: Can I Stretch a Railroad Spike to Get More Length?

A: Yes, you can stretch a railroad spike by heating it and flattening it. This technique allows you to get more length without compromising the spike’s strength.

Q2: Are railroad spikes safe to handle and repurpose? 

A: While railroad spikes are generally safe to handle, it’s important to take precautions when working with them. Wear protective gloves to prevent cuts or splinters, and use proper tools when shaping or cutting the spikes. In case you plan to use them for welding projects or heavy machinery, it’s advisable to seek professional assistance.

Q3: Can I sell the items I make using railroad spikes? 

A: Yes, you can sell the items you create with railroad spikes. However, it’s important to ensure that you’re not infringing on any copyrights or trademarked designs. Research and check your area’s legal requirements if you’re planning to sell your creations.


The Beauty of Recycling and Repurposing Railroad Spikes goes beyond mere crafting; it’s about giving new life to industrial artifacts. These spikes, once a symbol of transportation and industry, can now become part of our daily lives as functional tools or artistic creations. From garden gates to wind chimes, knives to bottle openers, the possibilities are endless. 

In our discussion, we explored 15 ways to transform these industrial relics into functional and artistic pieces. Railroad spikes can be used to make anything from knives and chisels to wind chimes and garden gates. 

In addition to finding, cleaning, shaping, and repurposing these spikes, this process is a celebration of recycling and imaginative thinking.