38 Top Railroad Spike Welding Projects and Crafts
Got some railroad spikes in a bucket of scrap metal in your garage and you’re not sure what to do with them?
How about creating some railroad spike welding projects? Repurposing these unique pieces of American history and giving them new life is rewarding for many scrap metal artists and DIY hobbyist welders.
Below you’ll find a list of my favorite railroad spike project ideas. Some have step-by-step instructions while others are for inspiration. Enjoy!
What You Should Know About Railroad Spikes Before Starting a Welding Project
Where To Get Railroad Spikes?
If you don’t already have some you may wonder how to get railroad spikes for your projects? There are many ways to source railroad spikes. Check near railroad tracks for discarded spikes, antique and flea markets, or online retailers like Etsy or here at Amazon.
How To Clean Railroad Spikes?
Once you’ve got the spikes for your project, they may need cleaning before you can start. Check out this video to see how to clean rusty railroad spikes.
How Big is a Railroad Spike?
A standard railroad spike is 5–5.5 inches long measured from the bottom of the head to the point and 9/16″ square.
How Heavy is a Railroad Spike?
A typical spike weighs approximately one-half a pound.
What Metal is Used to Make Railroad Spikes?
The steel used to make railroad spikes is softer low carbon steel. This mild steel is more forgiving and not subject to breaking or fracturing. There are HC spikes that are slightly higher carbon (0.6% carbon) but no “high carbon” spikes.
Are Railroad Spikes Still Used?
Railroad spikes date back to the early 1830s and along with the modern flat-bottomed rail was invented by Robert Livingston Stevens, president of the Camden & Amboy Railroad. They are still being used today and are the fastener of choice for most North American railroads.
Why Create Projects From Railroad Spikes?
It’s easy to feel a sense of accomplishment when you use recycled metal items to create new projects. Railroad spikes are affordable and give projects an interesting rustic or industrial feel.
They are also great for beginner welders because they are very forgiving to work with. They do not splinter or break easily because of their metal composition.
Railroad Spike Decorating Ideas
Here’s an easy welding project to get started with using scrap metals. Make several to create a set and vary the height by adjusting the length of the rebar piece. These make a nice rustic decor piece and you could also make them for gifts.
Barn Board and Railroad Spikes Coat Rack and Hat Shelf
I love the look of this vintage-inspired coat rack with a hat shelf. Using old barn wood goes perfectly with spikes to create rustic decor pieces. Here you’ll find the step-by-step instructions you’ll need to get this railroad spike project done.
One of the more popular spike projects is the star. This star takes it to the next level and is 3D making it easy to display on a table. It would look cool to hang it up outside.
Horseshoe and Railroad Spike Coat Rack
This combination of horseshoes and spikes creates the perfect coat rack for a rustic home, barn, or cabin. Once finished, mount them on a piece of wood or separately directly on a wall. For more home decor ideas check out this article on welded furniture projects.
Recycled Metal Spheres
Recycled metal is a popular choice for creating garden spheres. Create one or more in a variety of sizes and place them throughout your garden or yard.
Looking for a recycled metal flower idea for your garden? Here Charles Builds Crap will take you through creating a scrap metal flower from junk metal parts.
If you’re looking to create an industrial or rustic-looking coat rack, this design is it. Using some scrap metal and 5 spikes you can easily complete this project in an afternoon. Finish with a clear coat or paint it to match your decor and your set.
These hooks are an easy welding project and would also be nice to create if you’re looking for welding items to sell. Clearcoat or paint to finish them off with unique looks.
Creating display bowls with recycled materials is always a winning combination. Display the bowls on their own or decorated to match the room decor for the various holiday seasons. Bowls make nice display pieces and are also great gifts.
The addition of spikes give these shelf supports a cool industrial decor look. Add a piece of wood and you’ve got a storage or display shelf. The Home Handyman takes you through the process to create these useful items.
Here’s another great idea for the garden. This windmill would look great as a focal point in your garden and you could also use it as a trellis.
This design would look great in a large garden or as decor up against a barn or garage. Leave it rustic or paint it for a pop of color.
Welded Fire Pit
Who doesn’t love to have a backyard fire pit? Here’s a great design that would look good in anyone’s backyard. It would be a gathering place for sure for friends and neighbors.
Bottle Tree Flower
This flower is a simple take-off of the bottle tree design. It uses spikes, scrap metal, rebar, and bottles to complete the design. Weld up the design and then search for a couple of green bottles to complete the look.
Do you need handles to match the other rustic decor you’ve created? Here you go. They look great and are simple to make—winner!
Toilet Paper Holder
This rustic design toilet paper holder uses two horseshoes and a spike. This design is heavy-duty and easy to load and unload t-paper from. Combine this project with a couple of others to create a unique look for your bathroom.
This tree would look nice as a focal point in your garden during the summer months. Then for the holidays decorate it with lights for the Christmas season.
This design I have seen a lot and I like it because you can do so many things with it. Hang it up as it is or decorate it like a wreath for the different seasons.
This sunflower is huge! It would definitely be a bigger project to take on using quite a few spikes.
Railroad Spike Gift Ideas
Scrap Metal Butterflies
Looking for a nice gift for the gardener on your list? This scrap metal and spike butterfly is the ticket. You can add a garden stake to it and display it as a single or create several and display them together.
Scrap Metal Grasshopper
This cute little grasshopper would look great in your garden or in a planter. A fun and easy welding project using spikes and other items you have in your shop. Clearcoat it or get the kids involved and paint them in fun colors and designs.
Here’s the perfect gift for the nautical enthusiast in your life. This anchor would look great decorating a cabin or boat. Just add rope and you’re done.
The possibilities are endless for what you could make for signs using spikes. This “Love” sign turned out great and would make the perfect gift for someone special.
Make a set of these bookends for the bookworm in your life. Such a cool design it’s sure to be a hit.
Three spikes, a bolt, and a washer are all you need to create this rustic candle holder. Make a set and give it as a gift with a couple of tapered candlesticks.
Railroad Spike Cross
Small Cross with Copper Heart
This piece would look great in the garden, or it could also serve as a memorial piece. The contrast of the copper with the railroad spikes is such a great look.
Small Cross with Stand
Scrap to Art Metalworks put together this step-by-step video to take you through creating a cross with a stand. This is a great basic piece that can be used for gifts, as a decor piece or if you’re looking to make items to sell, this would be a great item.
Small Hanging Cross
These cute wall crosses are an easy welding project for beginners. They use 3 spikes and a piece of barbed wire. They make nice western decor items if you leave some of the natural rust on them and then finish with a clear coat.
Table Cross with Horseshoe Base
This is a little larger cross that has a western decor look. Using 10 spikes for the cross, barbed wire for the accent, and then using two to three horseshoes for the stand. This welding project incorporates several recycled metal items to create this unique cross.
Here Dumpster Marcus will guide you through making a basic wall cross. Once completed, this basic design has many possibilities. Add a clear coat, paint it and finish it with some extra decor items to personalize it.
This wall cross is a little more elaborate but still has a rustic feel to it. Use it as an inside or outside decor piece.
Railroad Spike Art Ideas
This piece would look great displayed in the garden or on the mantle of a cabin. Its eye-catching design would command attention wherever you’d place it.
If you have a bunch of spikes, this starburst is a cool project to create. Display it outside in the garden, on a tabletop, or weld a hook into it and hang it up.
Scrap Metal Dog
Scrap metal animals are a favorite project among scrap metal artists. This cute dog incorporates spikes into its design and then finishes it with other scrap metal items.
Metal artist Kevin Caron specializes in creating unique plant sculptures which he makes solely out of spikes. He can take old railroad spikes and create fluid plant sculptures with them that are highly sought after. Check out this video to find out more about Kevin and his art.
Recycled Metal Horse Sculpture
Horses are popular subjects for metal sculpture projects. This artist shows us what can be done using railroad spikes to create this special piece of equine art.
Metal artist John V. Wilhelm is the creator of these cattle art pieces. Using spikes, railroad tracks, and river rocks he creates unique pieces of art.
Scrap Metal Pheasant
Scrap metal artist Keith Booth has put his talents to work creating this giant pheasant. It is on display and getting a lot of attention in Chamberlain, South Dakota. He used over 1900 railroad spikes along with other recycled metal items to create this metal sculpture in about a month’s time.
Thank you for checking out my article on railroad spike welding projects. I hope you have gotten some ideas that will inspire you to create unique recycled metal welding projects out of spikes.
If you’re interested in a welder to get started welding your projects, check out a review of the top welders for hobbyists and DIY metalworkers.
If you’re learning to weld, here’s an article on welding books and reference guides that are loaded with useful information.