Introduction: Horse Shoe Nail & Cement Nail Jewelry

Picture of Horse Shoe Nail & Cement Nail Jewelry

I have always been fascinated by jewelry made from nails ever since I was a boy. My family would go to the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village in Dearborn Michigan. In the village there was a blacksmith that would demonstrate his skills by making rings from Horse shoe nails. He would give them away.

In the passing of my mother, my father gave me a box and in it was a horseshoe nail from the village.
This got me going again with making jewelry from nails.

I am not just using horse shoe nails, I like working with square cement nails.

I am including a category that I call pocket jewelry, also from my childhood. My mother would keep a glass dish above the washing machine on a shelf. In this dish she would put all the things she would find and take out of our pockets. I love going and looking in the dish to see what everyone was carrying or had found. It looked like jewelry to me.

Remember to practice and use shop safety – use protective eyeglasses, dust masks and gloves.

Know how to safely use the equipment before you start.

No loose clothing, hair or objects around moving items. Remove your rings.

Step 1: Items Used

Picture of Items Used
  1. Cement Nails – square 2 ½ inch and 3 ½ inch long
    Horse shoe nails – 2 inch long
  2. Small metal rings
  3. Gem stones – really just an option
  4. Bench vise
  5. Adjustable wrench
  6. Needle nose Pliers
  7. Plumbing torch
  8. Leather gloves
  9. Scuff pad or wire brush or wire wheel
  10. Optional: drill and drill bit

Step 2: Forming the Nail

Picture of Forming the Nail

Placing either end of the nail into the vise pointing up.

Adjust the adjustable wrench so it loosely slips onto the nail.

With the torch, heat the nail. While the nail is still hot twist the nail with the adjustable wrench.

Different designs can be created by where the heat is applied and how fast the nail is twisted.

Pliers can be used to twist the nails into a ring or just twist the top of the nail to make loop for holding a ring.

On some nails I drilled a hole and added a ring to hang.

Another option is to go abstract design of curls.

Gem stone option: Twist the nail to form a C and put a gemstone in, the stone is held in by spring tension. All I can say is try this at the end of our work session (or practice). I did not get this on my first try or the 10th, it took a lot of work to get the spacing right.

Note: the nails I have (worked with) do not cold bend or twist without breaking, so please be careful and wear safety equipment.

Step 3: Finishing

Picture of Finishing

Since open flame torch heat is being used, scale (blackening) is on the outside of the nail.

Use some sort of scuffing to remove the scale to create a shine.

Note I use pliers to hold the nail when using the wire wheel for safety.

With skin reactions to different elements, I like to coat my wearable jewelry with a protective coating.

Add metal ring to hang from necklace.

Step 4: Pocket Jewelry

Picture of Pocket Jewelry

One of my ideas of pocket jewelry is twisted square nails without the ability to be hung on a necklace.

The feel and weight of cement nails seem to work well to carry them around.

I like to trade them or just show them off. I also flip them around in my hand when I am waiting (bored).

My mother had one in her purse, so you might want to call it purse jewelry.

Step 5: More Photos

Picture of More Photos

Thank you for viewing my instructables.


diana2872 (author)2015-09-19

very nice, i like it a lot! Worked with some horse shoe nails myself to make some keychain hearts for selling, ppl loved them.Picture was taken before polishing.

JonH52 (author)diana28722016-01-14

Diana - would you share what you used to solder the nails together? I am a very beginner when it comes to making jewelry. I have watched a number of videos, and done quite a bit of online research, but haven't found a lot of info on the soldering process - specifically for this type of metal. I found one pretty comprehensive video on YouTube. The gentleman was making horseshoe nail crosses, and soldering them. He was using a butane torch, but he didn't give any specifics on the solder other than it was a 60/40 solder. I'm not getting mine to solder together very well. The solder tends to just bead up and not flow - even when using flux. If it does flow ... (which is rare) - it's not flowing between the joints. I'm wondering if I'm using the incorrect solder, since it tends to just bead up and do nothing.

OldGuy52 (author)2015-10-08

Very nice! Glad I found this Instructable. You have provided a lot of grist for the creative mill.

craftclarity (author)2014-05-09

I love the color contrast between the steel and the gem. Beautiful work, sir.

Thank you so much.

With no material (metal) behind the gem stone; color variations are picked up with the fabric worn with this piece of jewelry.

hunter999 (author)2014-04-27

Wow! Your full of ideas :-) Well done Scott, thanks for sharing. Voted :D

Fikjast Scott (author)hunter9992014-04-27

This is nice of you to say, thank you

Ironwave (author)2014-04-16

As Always your ibles are delightfully creative.
This is beutifully imbued with raw primal naked blacksmitherie powress!
Are the gem hold in place by tension alone, no glue at all?
I have a few odd gems around that needs a... Nail, it seems :-D

Fikjast Scott (author)Ironwave2014-04-16

Yes it is held in by tension. Getting it sized just right - I had a few that shot out (too much tension or the wrong spacing). One trick I could add, is - not all reasonably priced gems are sized the same. so if you have a few gems I would try different ones in for the best fit, before adjusting the tension.
I forgot to mention that I put a slight groove with a file in the ends of the nail. . the groove was to help with lineing the gem up with the ends of the nail. Now typing this; Next time,I will probably use a ball dremel bit and do a little grinding on the nail ends.
I try and not use glue as much as possible.

Ironwave (author)Fikjast Scott2014-04-16

Great tips to take to heart.
Thank you Sir.

Johnrhare (author)2014-04-14

Enjoy the instructable

Fikjast Scott (author)Johnrhare2014-04-15

thank you for viewing.

bricobart (author)2014-04-14

Very creative - you definitely need a good forge!

Fikjast Scott (author)bricobart2014-04-15

I'll say, a forge would be great. One day, one day.

shazni (author)2014-04-14

Very interesting :-) gives me ideas

Fikjast Scott (author)shazni2014-04-15

I am glad, if you ever hammer something out, let me know.
warmly scott

acuchetto (author)2014-04-14

(I especially appreciate the provenance and your description of your mother's glass bowl of pocket finds. I can imagine how much fun that would have been for you to see all the treasures.) Thank you so much for sharing this instructable and important part of your childhood!

Fikjast Scott (author)acuchetto2014-04-14

Normally I say thanks for viewing, but you made my day, thanks for reading and your nice comments.

acuchetto (author)2014-04-14


About This Instructable




More by Fikjast Scott:Bee Pollen Guessing JarCopper bee die for Wood burning Hidden Message Egg (wine glass magnifying lens)
Add instructable to: