• April 13, 2023
  • April 15, 2023
  • Vista, CA


  • To register an entry into the Railroad Spike Challenge during the Spring Conference, fill out the form below by April 13, 2023. You can bring your entry or ship it before the conference. By submitting an entry, you agree to have your entry displayed by the CBA at the 2023 conference. Donated entries may be displayed at subsequent events for a minimum of one year. You also agree to your entry’s image or video with your name and city being used by the CBA for advertising or display purposes.

Registration is closed

The California Blacksmith Association (CBA) will host a special gallery of blacksmiths’ work that conforms to the “Railroad Spike Challenge” at the 2023 CBA Spring Conference in Vista, California!

Similar to the popular 150 mm Challenge originated by the Hereford College of Arts, this challenge allows blacksmiths to use a single common American railroad spike (see dimensions and requirements below) to create an object of their choosing and imagination from a shared material.  The challenge is open to all blacksmiths worldwide with categories for professional, amateur, and youth.

Questions and inquiries: RRSpikeChallenge@gmail.com

What can you craft from a common railroad spike? Something functional? Artistic? Inspiring? This is your chance to exercise your creativity and have your work exhibited at the 2023 CBA Spring Conference.

How to take part:

  • Legally obtain a common American railroad spike (see description below)
  • Forge it into whatever your imagination allows. You may only use a single spike and cannot add any other materials.
  • Register your entry below. You may submit more than one entry to the challenge. The deadline for submissions is April 13, 2023.
  • Ship or bring your creation to the 2023 CBA Spring Conference by Thursday, April 13, 2023

All entries that are deemed to conform to the challenge rules will be displayed during the 2023 CBA Spring Conference with your name and city.

Register your entry before April 13, 2023 here: Registration will open soon

What is a “common” American railroad Spike? These and similar spikes have been in use in America since approximately 1830. They were made of various low-mid carbon steel and used to secure railroad tracks to their base. They are widely available and inexpensive to legally obtain. The below diagram illustrates the most common sizes and shape.

Railroad Spike Challenge 2023 Rules:

1.      Material requirements: Your piece must be made entirely from a single, new or used, common American steel railroad spike. A common spike is generally 5/8”– 9/16” square, made of low to medium carbon steel, approximately 6-1/8 inches long. It must weigh no more than 47 grams (17 ounces). You may not add any additional materials, metals, colored coatings, or paint. You may treat your entry to reduce rust and corrosion while retaining the look and feel of the steel material. You must use all the metal from the original spike in your entry. You may optionally provide a small base of wood, metal, or another suitable material for display purposes. The base will not be considered in judging your work. You may use any processes or tools available to you in the manufacture of your piece. By submitting an entry, you attest that your submission was crafted from a single, legally-obtained, common American railroad spike as described above.
2.      Number of entries: You may submit more than one entry into the challenge.
3.      Identification: Each entry will be accompanied with a card that includes your name and city.
4.      Submission deadline: The deadline for registration is April 13, 2023. Submissions must be delivered or received by April 13, 2023, at:

Railroad Spike Challenge 2023
c/o The Antique Gas and Steam Engine Museum
2040 N Santa Fe Ave, Vista, California 92083

5.      Ownership: You may opt to permanently donate your entry to the CBA or retain ownership. ALL entries will be displayed by the CBA for use in the Spring Conference between April 13 to 15, 2023.

-Donated entries will be retained by the CBA for a minimum of 1 year and may be displayed at subsequent events for a minimum of one year.
-If you elect to retain ownership of your entry, you must make arrangements to pick up or ship your entry after April 15, 2023, at your own cost.

6.      Agreement for use: By submitting an entry, you agree to your entry’s image or video being used by the CBA for advertising or display purposes. A selected number of entries may be more frequently displayed or advertised by the CBA in magazines, articles, publications, or videos at their discretion.
7.      Material legally obtained: By submitting an entry, you attest that you acquired the original railroad spike legally and did not remove it from any federal land or railroad property.
8.      Judging: All entries will be judged to confirm they comply with the rules. Entries deemed not to comply will not be displayed.

-No prizes will be awarded and there will be no winners chosen.
-There will be three event categories for display:
-Professional Blacksmith
-Amateur Blacksmith
-Youth Blacksmith (17 years and younger)

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