Railroad spikes reveal the history of the settlement and growth of the Pacific Northwest. Nathan’s ramblings sometimes uncover decaying tracks and scattered spikes; he brings the spikes home and recycles them into knives, axes, hold-downs and more.

He believes, deeply, that pioneer heritage should be cherished and preserved for generations to come. The tools he crafts from railroad spikes proudly display the marks of their history: Small signs of corrosion, the head of the spike with its original maker’s mark, the squared stock of the shaft.

They’re rugged, meant for practical purposes, but still finely balanced with sharp, hardened edges.

Nathan finds some of his spikes buried in the underbrush near Salmonberry Creek in Oregon, remnants of the old Tillamook Bay Railroad. Built between 1906 and 1911, the Tillamook stretched from the Oregon Coast Range mountains through Portland to the Pacific Ocean at Tillamook Bay.

It carried lumber and farm goods through the area, but a series of storms in the late 1990s severely damaged part of the line.

Despite significant repairs, one of Oregon’s famous December storms, the Great Coastal Gale, collapsed the railroad’s bridges, eroded away the ground under the rails, and severely damaged tunnels.

Repair costs were too high in the mountains, so much of the Tillamook was shut down.

You can still ride it along the coast, but the mountain end of the line is in pretty sad shape (see the pictures). Its spikes are scattered throughout the nearby forest, and those marked with an X are high carbon steel, and well-suited for knife and tool-making.

Spike Knife
  • Recycled high-carbon spike
  • Self-handle
  • Shows 100 years of wear
  • 9 x 2 in / 23 x 5 cm
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RR Throwing Knife

  • Recycled HC railroad spike
  • Sculpted cherrywood handle
  • Dimensions
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RR Camp Axe
  • Recycled high-carbon railroad spike
  • Cherry wood handle
  • Multipurpose: Digs, chops, hammers, slices
  • 15.75 x 7 in / 40 x 18 cm
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camp axe

RR Throwing Dagger

  • HC Tillamook Railroad spike
  • Self handle
  • 10.25 x 1.5 in / 26 x 4 cm
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