I've been handlaying track for many, many years. All seven of the layouts I've had were all handlaid. I haven't seen anyone mention the most important thing in regards to hand laid track yet, and that is you are not limited to what you can buy switch, crossing, or track arrangement wise. Need a #14 curved switch? build it.
Need a #10 singleslip? build it,
need a movable point 5 degree crossing? build it.
If you use preassembled turnouts from BK, ME, CVMW or whomever, in my mind you're missing the biggest advantage with handlaying, you might as well use Pecos, Shinoharas or Atlas.
But as to the problem of split ties from the spikes, that comes from improperly gluing the ties down. Instead of running a small bead or two, spread out the glue slightly wider than the ties and imbed them in the glue. This can be done with a small piece of card, plastic, or even a piece of roadbed. If your ties are pre-stained, after they are placed, you can also spread the ballast at this time, slightly tamping the ballast down with a cut down foam brush. The tapered end is cut off to make a square end. After the glue dries, excess ballast can merely be brushed up and reused on the shoulders after the track and rest of the scenery is in place.
But the biggest thing is practice, practice, practice!! I have given clinics on handlaying track, and thats one thing I emphasize more than anything. The first switch you make will probably look like garbage
and will probably take you 3-4 hours to make. But it will work!
The next one will take a little less time and look a little better. The more you make the better you get. I'm to the point now where if I'm building a plain #6 switch and the ties are glued down and dry, I can be running a train over that switch around an hour after I start laying the rail.