Thursday, February 2, 2012

Hand Forged Nails

How To Make Hand Forged Nails

Thanks for the black smithing tips. I have been enjoying them. I am a beginner. Right now I am learning to make a nail. Can you tell me what size of a hole you need to hammer the nail through to create the head if you are working with 1/4" round stock? And is the hole a little wider at the opening? I am making my own tool to help form the nail head.

Glad you are starting out. Nail making is a good place to start as it teaches you hammer control and speed.
The nail header is a flat bar which can be mild steel to start, but if you make a lot of nails you may want to use a piece of tool steel such as car leaf spring. It should be fairly thick about 1/2 an inch.

You hot punch a square tapering hole in the bar. For the 1/4 round you mention I would not go bigger than 3/16 square. Now the key is that the hole is smaller at the top and larger at the bottom.

This means that after you draw out the point on the 1/4 round and position it . Make the partial cut so that about 3/8 to 1/2 inch sticking above the heading tool. Then take a good upsetting heat on it (bright yellow) then place in the heading tool and twist off the "handle" then quickly drive straight down into the heading tool.

It is best if you cut from all sides not just one side.

As the nail gets driven down onto the nail header the first thing that happens is that it slides until the sharp edges of the sides grab onto the steel. Once it grabs then the hot metal deforms "upsets" to create the head. Once it is well seated you can use angled hammer strokes to make the rosette head.

When it has cooled a bit a tap on the point or simply turning the heading tool over and tapping on the anvil and it often releases the nail. If the heading tool has the small opening down you are wedging the steel into a socket and it is much harder to get out and it doesn't make a nice shoulder.

If you are just starting you will find bigger nails are easier to make. 5/16 or 3/8 rod size. They hold the heat longer so you don't have to work quite so fast.

David RobertsonLink
Artist Blacksmith