Forging is fun. Steel needs to be hot forged but iron can be cold forged, needing only to be annealed when hammering has hardened it.
Common nails are made of iron, (or of mild steel in this case you must anneal them when you feel they are getting harder to hammer) ; any nail, around 3 inches long, can be turned into a small knife. Old bent nails cost nothing so you can try and make different shapes at no cost. Annealing means bringing the steel to a red-heath temperature and letting it air-cool.


Picture of WHAT YOU NEED
You need a hammer, a lump of steel for an anvil (a sledge hammer head will do), a stump, a flame, a couple of pliers, and a file.
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Øsman made it!1 month ago

First attempt :D (y) I will make another one but it will be bigger :) thank you and goodluck :)

GustafF1 made it!1 month ago

I made dis. It was really cool. However i didn't have the materials to temper or heat treat it. so i sharpened them as much i could with a sanding drill bit.

Photo on 06-07-15 at 14.11.jpg
benhergert777 made it!5 months ago

My first knife from a nail. The Gladius. My next one will be better.

benhergert7775 months ago

This is really cool. I am going to make one as soon as possible.

Thantos2000 made it!7 months ago
this was a success thanks a bunch
Qwertyfish10 months ago
Could these be sharpened? As I am looking to make a letter opener out of one but the one I made is not very sharp. Can these be sharpened and if they can how?
pennabilli (author)  Qwertyfish9 months ago
just use a coarse file, an irregular edge cuts (really breaks, tears) better the paper and does not slip.
You will find that a longer blade is more functional than the ones I posted,
Qwertyfish10 months ago
Do you have to anneal the nail before hammering because when i hammer mine it doesn't seem to shape. This could be the surface or the nail itself. Any suggestions?
pennabilli (author)  Qwertyfish10 months ago

usually the iron nails are already annealed. Maybe you are using steeel
nails, they must be hot worked, annealing the will only admit a few
blows before hardening again

I made one today I couldn't be happier with it it is great
pargo1 year ago
I just made mine its pretty cool its not very sharp though but keep up the good work
Venemot1 year ago

I call this bad boy the HARBINGERRRR

Ozzynny1 year ago

Hi, I have some very old iron nails, but having some trouble forging/hammering them. They split and splinter - despite being annealed and cooled. Any tips??

codongolev3 years ago
made a couple of itty bitty nail knives (well, I guess one's a sword). here they are!

I really like your nail knives! They look kind of cute :P haha..

Maybe they are the next best tactical knife in the market. They can easily be hidden and they are extremely dangerous.

HTWTUSA1 year ago

My new favorite knife tutorial...as a carpenter, I have 1000's of these just waiting to be made...gonna start this weekend. Seriously, most unique knife platform I've ever seen.

southbaysue4 years ago
Wow! Incredible. The metal just becomes beautiful! I wonder do you do any hands-on lessons? You are a true artisan - I bet your hands could tell a thousand stories...
pennabilli (author)  southbaysue4 years ago
Ahem... in fact teaching metalworking classes is what I prefer to do.
But I live in Pennabilli, a village in Italy.
happy Easter!
so what you're saying is that I need to plan a trip to Italy....any nice places to stay in Pennabilli?

I, too, am interested in the answer to that...

pennabilli (author)  bryan31414 years ago
Yeah, nice and inexpensive, either a small hotel or a B&B.
And Pennabilli (http://www.pennabilli.org/dove-en.html) is worth a visit, if you are in Italy I mean.
muddog151 year ago
Use rail road tie nails.
These are fun for practice, but they are dreadful as knives. I am writing a few instructables on forging for very little cash. My goal is to make a full shop for 20$ total. If you want advice on forging for beginners, or resources for steel and tools, message me.
P.S. old files are great for small knives and broken leaf springs are great for big knives and swords
How did that 20$ shop go? Do you have an instructable for it?
this is amazing. being a metal worker myself, this really gave me some new ideas. i build bigger swords but am very fascinated by this idea. great job and keep up the good work.

gabe yoo2 years ago
You could make a drill bit out of the handle design
pennabilli (author)  gabe yoo2 years ago
in fact i did, not with a nail which is made of iron, but from a jeweler's burr (+ or - same diameter as a nail).
If I haven't done it yet, (must check- bad memory) I will post an instructable on a drill bit making soon.
W8L42B93 years ago
very good i also did a project like this...i used a nail to make a scalpel...i need to sharpen it so i can use it to cape animal hyde....today i was working on a sword..a little harder then i thought but it is comeing alone very well...all i am useing for this project is a hand held torch, regular hammer...25 pound dumbell that i hammer against...heavy leather gloves and a aluminum coffe pot to cool it down ....and last and the best creativity...
Sledgehammer heads work better as anvils, the weight will chip. I would suggest building a real forge. (you can build one for 5$) and wear safety glasses aswell. I don't wear gloves, or an apron and I'm using pliers as tongs. Burns are solve able in a week or so, but get burning metal in your eye and you are in trouble. You can get a whole setup for around 20$ if you really hunt for supplies, and 50$ if you're not willing to wait. And that includes an anvil. If you are truly interested, message me.
mritz3 years ago
you can also use these as pretty good arrow heads
chipf mritz2 years ago
I made arrow heads out of finishing nails for my survival kit. They are light wieght. But still puncture 1/4 in plywood.
soldeir 9 mritz3 years ago
good idea!!!! my "homemade" arrows kinda suck...this will improve them :D
soldeir 93 years ago
Freggin amazing!!!!! 5*!! i might post a pic of one i make :D
I don't have a propane torch, but I do have unlimited access to a bunsen burner. Would that get hot enough to work?
pennabilli (author)  handful of dust3 years ago
Probably it won't suffice. Yu need a hissing flame, not a soft one. A portable propane torch like the one you see in my tutorial, costs from 20 to 30 $, and is very useful also in other occasions.
lae524 years ago
Try using an old rail road spike. Lots of steel and will make a knife that can actually hand held and usable. Rail spikes are usually pretty decent steel as well.

jnass lae524 years ago
Yes and no Dave... for knives you want to look for the spikes marked "HC" or HCX" on the heads... these are a higher carbon content (about .4%-.6%) and are hardenable. Normal spikes are simply mild steel and as such aren't hardenable by conventional means, so will not hold much of an edge.

I am a professional blacksmith and have much experience with RR spike knives...
lae52 jnass4 years ago
Thanks for the info. I wasn't aware of the markings. Are they literally on the head or are they on the side by the head?

jnass lae524 years ago
Usually right on the head Dave, though it can be kinda tough to find when they get rusty... a wire wheel helps clean them up so you can see it sometimes.
conway106 jnass3 years ago
Try putting the HC spikes in a bath of white vinegar. It will take the rust off of the spike-all of it. The spike will look brand new!. Leave it covered by the vinegar for 2
or 3 days. Any longer and the spike will start pitting. Good luck! Mike
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