Nails And Some Blacksmithing

Here’s a blacksmith turning 4 inch framing nails into buckles. In the clip after the break he starts by heating and bending the nail around a square form. Next the excess gets cut off and both sides of the square frame are ground flat while in a vise. A smaller nail serves as the prong and a flat piece of metal is shaped so that this can be connected to a leather strap. This ends up as part of the support system for a full suit of armor.

We’ve seen a lot of great welding projects over the years, but today’s blacksmithing video leaves us wanting. If you’ve got a favorite project that involved this kind of work tip us off about it and we’ll see if we can get some more hacks for the Smithies out there.


[Thanks Rob]

36 thoughts on “Nails And Some Blacksmithing

  1. Hmm, nails? That’s interesting. I suppose they might work if they’re not galvanized. Zinc poisoning is not fun.

    Most armorers suggest welding rod, and that way you don’t have to trim off the heads either. Or a thick gauge wire would probably fill the purpose as well. Heat the wire as he did for bending around corners, but make a square coil, then cut them several at a time.

  2. Yeah Caleb, while some will cry ‘not a hack’, I for one would enjoy that. I used to have a backyard charcoal forge, but we’ve since moved back into an apartment and I had to leave it at my mother’s house.

  3. @Caleb – yes, please!

    A lot of the processes in that video were basic but still wouldn’t have occurred to me (e.g., to make a clean square, fold the two end of nail over itself and just cut). More videos on metal working would be awesome.

  4. @xeracy

    Rings aren’t hard to make. Just chuck up a 1/4 inch rod in a drill press, set the drill for as slow as it goes, and feed it wire. Hit the stop about three inches from the end of the rod, I used a 18 inch-ish rod and the momentum will take the coil the last inch or so. Cut the wire, watch your fingers, it will uncoil several times, and that cut end will cut the shit out of your fingers!! This will also expand the rings a little bit, so they’re not exactly 1/4 inch in diameter. Make a few dozen springs, then to cut them into rings, put them on another rod, and use a dremel to cut a line down one side. Ta-Da! Shit ton of rings fairly quickly. The wire I used was stainless welding wire, comes on a spool a couple miles long. Gave up making the shirt about half way. My hands still hurt, and that was over 15 years ago….

  5. One of my biggest issue with buckles is when they don’t weld the cut ends together. For low weight things it doesn’t matter…but put much more tension on that nail than the weight of that armor, eg actually WEAR it, and the wire starts to warp over time. Eventually, it falls apart.

    i’ve had it happen to me several times on belts, strapping, and so on.

  6. @andar_b Most people don’t wear a belt-buckle on bare skin, not hating on your pleasures but that seems an issue for very few others :)

    @Drackar I also thought it odd, he could at least solder it together, but when you have that flat metal around it too it should be pretty sturdy actually, but still.

  7. @Whatnot

    Zinc poisoning doesn’t come from zinc touching your skin (AFAIK), but rather when you’re smithing the nail and breathing the fumes. Still, with the small amount on a nail, unless you make a bazillion of them a day, it should only take an adequately ventilated shop to take care of it. If not, or you’re paranoid, use a respirator.

    Cool video. I almost lol’ed at the “Benny Hill-esque” sped-up sequences, but it’s a very efficient way to show the process. I would love a whole library of metal-working videos made in this style.

  8. If you guys liked this video, try to find some old footage of Wallace Gussler making a flintlock. He rediscovered colonial-era techniques and built numerous weapons using traditional methods and period tools.

    Gussler started with a strip of steel and a coal forge with bellows. The strip was welded by fire and judicious pounding until it was a tube.

    The tube was hand-filed to an octagon shape and bored, and then rifled by hand with hand-made tools.

    The lock mechanism, including the springs and all the screws were made by hand with handmade tools.

    The brass details, like the trigger guard, thimble, and patch box plate were all cast at the forge with scrap brass.

    The stock was sawed, whittled, and planed by hand, and both the wood and metal features received engraving.

    This guy’s work would blow your minds.

  9. Buddy of mine runs a real forge. he makes Damascus steel all the time (IT’s actually very easy to do, only the liars say it’s “hard”) as well as lots of other stuff, My favorite was a full size iron maiden he built for this goth rich guy to put in his entry parlor. That thing was insane.

  10. and I’ve heard if you have the proper tools and know how, pattern-welded “damascus” steel isn’t all that difficult. But it is often advertised as superior to other steels, but in reality, it is only superior to most available in ‘period’, in modern times we can get better stuff at the scrap yard.

  11. @amos & @andar_b If zinc is so damn dangerous would we not be all dead? Most every bit of metal in your car is zinc coated, getting hot and scratching left and right, not to mention most every other metal you find outside, and much of the metal you find inside your house too actually, although that might not be stressed/heated much, apart from parts in your heater and AC I guess.
    Oh and inside your computer, that grey of the metal of your case? zinc (and think about how many modders saw in that stuff, not only making a fine mist but also heating it)

  12. @Whatnot: My understanding (as a hobbyist welder and metalworker) is that the cadmium fumes given off when you heat galvanized metal are toxic. (Which as you may know, means “poisonous” but not necessarily “fatal.”) Maybe not enough to kill you, but enough to make you wish you had been more careful.

    A lot of people make tall bikes and other nifty gadgets from welded galvanized pipe, and the “common wisdom” (IANAD) is that it’s okay to do this outside or with lots of ventilation.

    As for myself, I stay away from the stuff. I’ve got a good metal supplier not too far away, and their prices are quite reasonable.

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