Horseshoe Nail Steer




Introduction: Horseshoe Nail Steer

About: I am a 16 Year old "rod" maker, i enjoy building custom fishin' rods, it is very addicting. i also enjoy welding, and making stuff with my own hands, (which is why i like this site). i have a somewhat engine...

I enjoy welding. I have done a few projects with horseshoes and horseshoe nail, but this is by far my favorite project.

A fellow student in my welding class brought in a horseshoe nail steer, that his mom had gotten him, and was going to try to recreate it. Well i had no project at the time, so I decided to try my hand at it. Boy was it hard, i wasted many a nail trying to get the horns just right.

A lot of the pieces you will make are subject to variations. I give this instructable to you just as a general guide, to be fallowed loosely. The measurements are not precise, nor should they be. I encourage you to experiment, and be creative. If you do something different i would like to see it, I have an interest in horseshoe, and horseshoe nail art, and am currently working on a horse.

For this project you will need :
3/32" braze rod, I used flux coated
at least 35 horseshoe nails, I think these are size 16
assorted pliers, needle nose and heavy duty snub nose
a oxyacetylene or oxypropane torch set
a vice (optional, but helpful for making face pieces)
sheet with pieces on it, to help in shaping and cutting pieces, especially laying out body.
surface you can braze on
fire bricks (optional, but help to hold body while putting legs and head on)
Tape (optional, used to help hold body together when brazing)
Partner (optional, but helpful for holding parts like the tail)

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Step 1: Setting Up Nails

You will have a few nails left over if you don't have to redo any of the pieces. I said 35 because I can almost guarantee that you will have to redo at least one piece if not more. I have made about 10 of these and I still mess up pieces, especially the horns. I am not good at explaining in word what I am doing, but I will try explain it.

First I will tell what every part is and where it will go.
You will need 8 nails for the legs, 17 nails for the body, 2 nails for the horns, 2 nails for the center of the face, 2 nails for the eyes, 1 nail for the tail, and 1 nail for the heck

Step 2: Peparing Body

Now I have done all the work for you, setting up the nails for the body. All you have to do is print out the pattern for the body, and set the nails on it, tape it, and braze it. But if you want to figure out the pattern it is not hard, just more work.

When you tape it, what i do is i get it all set up how i want it then i run one piece across the top, and one down the butt. That way all the nails stay where you put them. You will be able to adjust the position slightly after it is taped.

Now when you have your body shaped and taped set it aside and lets work on the face.

Step 3: The Legs

For the legs you will braze 2 nails together with the heads pointing opposite directions.the length is not real important. But it will affect how tall your steer is. mine are roughly 3 1/2" long. you just need to make sure your legs are all the same length or your steer will be lopsided.

What I do to make all my legs the same is, I make one. Then after I braze the first leg, I set up my next leg next to the first so they are the same length. Then braze it, and repeat the process with the last 2, making each leg off that first.

You do not want to use a lot of braze, just enough to hold the nails together.

Step 4: The Tail

For the Tail i suggest using a hammer and vice because the nails can be hard to bend with pliers.

First you want to bend the nail about 3/4" from the top of the head, up towards the raised side of the head.

Then about 3/4" down towards the tip, from the bend, you want to bend the nail about 90degrees, with another slight bend about 1/4" from the tip.

Step 5: The Neck

Bend the bump up about 45degrees

Bend the straight part about 1/3 of the way from the head, up about 60degrees

About Half way from last bend to tip, bend nail 90degrees away from head

Step 6: Eyes

Now the eyes are really easy, but you may need to use some muscle to cut the nails.

For the eyes you want to bend the nail about 3/8" from the tip about 25 degrees towards the flat side of the head. Do that to 2 nails.

Now cut about 1/8" off the tip, of both nails.

After you have bent and cut the nails, set aside with body.

Sorry about the nails on a steel table pictures. When I took these pictures in shop class while building one, it was what i did my work on.

Step 7: Center of Face

This is probably the easiest part of the steer to make, all you need to do is cut a nail about 1/4". So that when the cut nail is place on top of a whole nail, with the heads in opposite directions, the tip of the whole nail does not stick out past the head of the cut nail.

Set aside with body and eyes.

Step 8: The Dreaded Horns

Now this is the hardest part to make. I spent a lot of time, and horseshoe nails, on the horns. This is really hard to describe and i hope to have a video soon.

First you take a nail and bend it 90degrees, about a third of the nail from the head, so that the point is up and the bump on the nail is up.

Then bend the points part of the nail, just above the first bend, back so that the bumb on the head faces you. This is where a vice is nice.

For the last bend, i just take plies and free form it till it looks good.

Repeat for the other horn but make the second bend in the opposite direction.

Step 9: Putting Together the Face

To make the face, lay the center bumps down, and lay the eyes next to it.put spare nails under the bumps on the eyes, like in second picture, so they sit just above the center of the face.

Braze at the bend on the eyes.

Step 10: Adding Horns and Neck

To add the horns, just lay the previously built piece, the face, with the bumps face up. Place the horns next to the eyes, and braze.

braze the neck, head of nail with head of nail on the bottom of center of face.

The face is now done.

Step 11: Putting Legs on Body

To do this, i put the body between 2 fire bricks,and "lean" the legs up against the body. This can be done many ways. the only thing is you have to do both legs at once or the other will fall off .

The front legs go 2-3 nails back from the head of the body, and the back legs go 1 nail from the back of the body.

Step 12: Attaching Head and Tail

Now is a good time to have a friend handy, because i have not found an easy way to do this myself.

The idea is to attach the head at an angle, so it is looking to the side. What i normally do is have someone hold the head with pliers and quickly braze the head at the top.\

For the tail i have someone hold the tail so the point of the nail rests on the highest nail at the back of the body. you have to be careful because you can melt the nail really easily, and you wont realize it happening till it is too late.

Step 13: Sit Back and Admire Your New Creation

You are now done with your horseshoe nail steer. If you want you could try to get rid of the soot and flux, but i personally like the look of that stuff. It looks homemade that way.

You can put it on your dresser, or in a cabinet, or give it as a gift to a loved one, my grandpa got my original.

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    17 Discussions


    10 years ago on Introduction

    I would totally buy this from you! The soot and flux gives it a used, rustic look, which to me looks waaay better than if it was all clean and trim! This is definately five-star material!


    10 years ago on Introduction

    Darn, I don't have the skills nor the tools.  Do you sell them?


    Neat! Reminds me of my dad's sculptures that he keeps in the basement. Made 'em when he was a kid. Seems as if I need to learn how to braze! (I really like the bronze joints...)


    10 years ago on Introduction

    Very nice indeed. For my curiosity, why did you braze underneath rather than along the backbone - I'm guessing that it gives you a nicer line along the top? L


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    I brazed along the bottom for a few reasons. One being the original was made that way. Another reason being that the nails are closer together, and if you have ever brazed before it is not easy filling holes. If you want to try to braze along the back bone I would be interested in seeing how it looks.


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Yes I get it, not much brazing experience but I understand. L


    10 years ago on Introduction

    Beautiful... Just beautiful. You did a great job with the brazing too.


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    I think they were size 16, horseshoe nails but i am not sure. The box had the size covered with a sticker.


    10 years ago on Introduction

    I have to agree with everyone else; this is beautiful. Excellent job.

    As being a person that absolutely admires constructions of rough, preformed metal objects, this comes out to be nearly astonishing! I could easily see myself making one of these in the near future.