Railroad crossings are a part of life, inconvenient though they may be at times. No one likes having to wait for a slow-moving train to pass, but without train tracks, there would be no railroad spikes! The purpose of a railroad spike is to secure rails and base plates to railroad ties to keep the rail in gauge, but used spikes are highly desirable for re-purposing in the form of knives.
If you are properly equipped and wish to make your own railroad spike knife, do note that while it is quite common to find spikes lying on the ground, the finder\'s keepers rule does not always apply in this case. Regardless of whether or not it is clear that these spikes have been discarded, they are still technically property of the railroad, which means permission is often necessary to acquire them. If you have your heart set on a spike with character, such as a used, pitted spike, keep in mind that laws vary by state and you will need to know and act in accordance with those that apply to you. However, brand new spikes can also be purchased at decent prices if you\'d like to have a bright, shiny spike that is also legal.
Making a knife out of a railroad spike is strenuous work and those of us who are convenience enthusiasts might prefer to avoid such work and cut straight to the chase. Purchasing a railroad spike knife is easy and the options are endless. Online retailers offer knives aplenty from which you can choose.
Many of these knives come with a twist in the handle. While interesting to look at, the twist is not always comfortable to grasp. Sweaty palms and rough edges may hamper the use and functionality of your knife. If only there were something with which you could wrap the handle...
That\'s where paracord comes into play! You can wrap your knife handle with paracord for a more comfortable yet durable grip! A general rule of thumb when making paracord crafts is that it takes a foot of cord to accomplish a tied inch. This will vary depending on the width and girth of what you wish to wrap so erring on the side of caution is best and allowing yourself some extra cord is advisable.
The best knot for this task is a cobra stitch (also known as a Solomon Bar or Portuguese Sinnet). As you begin to tie, let the knife handle act as the inner strands of cord as if you were making a project out of cord alone. Start at the center of the knife and place the cord flat against the knife\'s underside. Then take the cord from the right side and pass it over the top of the knife and to the left while leaving a small loop near the knife handle. Next you will take the cord on the left side and loop it around/atop the length of cord you just pulled from the right, then pass it back under the knife and forward through the loop you placed on the right side. Pull tightly and repeat until you have covered the desired amount of handle. Keep in mind that since you started with cord from the right side on top of the blade, that same piece of cord needs to always cross on the top. If you alternate the cord that goes on top, this will create a twist/spiral pattern in your cord.
Once you\'ve reached the end, you can cut and burn the ends to prevent unraveling, or you can double back and continue tying to create a second or even third layer as long as you allow yourself ample cord. It is also possible to layer multiple colors as shown below. Simply cut and burn the ends of your first layer and begin a second in the color of your choice for a comfortable knife handle that is unique to you. This method is not exclusive to railroad spikes and can also be used on any knife handle you wish to customize!