How to Play Nails (Stump)




Introduction: How to Play Nails (Stump)

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Have you just gotten home from a hike?

Do you like games with the high potential for the loss of an eyeball?

Do you have an adult drink in your hand?

Do you have at least 3 friends in close proximity?

Are you an AiR at Autodesk Pier 9?

If you answered yes to 3 out of the last 4 questions you may need to play Stump!

Stump goes by many names, Nails, there is even a german name for the game that a company in Minnesota has very aggressively trademarked and has sent us a cease and desist for using! Well I guess we won't be linking to them ever again, no web traffic for you!

It's extremely easy to play and is a great test of manliness or womanliness. All you need is a stump, hammer, nails, a group of friends, and neighbors who don't mind some noise.

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Step 1: Gather Supplies

Once you've decided it's time to play stump you need to gather materials.

What you will need

3 or more friends

2+ adult beverages per friend

1 16 oz framing hammer

1 box of #16 (16 penny) nails

1 stump

A word on stump selection:

not all stumps are created equal, you may find a stump from a younger tree may be too easy. Try to find a stump with even tight grain and minimal cracking. Try to find a stump that has already been cut and dried.

Step 2: Find a Site

Now that you've gathered what you need it's time to find a place to play.

Stump is a very loud game, you probably don't want to play this on your deck or yard if your neighbors are closer than 100 yards and arn't playing with you. Likewise try to pick a place that you can play for many hours without making too much noise during off hours.

If you can find a spot next to a fire pit +1

If you can find a spot with some lighting +1

If you can find a spot that's flat +1

Set up your stump in your selected spot and then circle your chairs around it.

Step 3: Getting Set-up

Time to start the party

Each player will need their own nail in the stump.

Start one nail per person, make sure it's deep enough that you can't pull it out by hand and wont fly out when hit. This is usually 2 good taps. Do a wiggle test to make sure it's not going to fly out. Try to make sure all the nails are an even depth. Try not to get the nails into cracks, a crack may make driving the nail might also make it bent and impossible beware!

Once all the nails are in everyone points to their nail.

Sit everyone down and explain the rules.

Step 4: The Rules:

  • Everyone gets one and only one touch to the nail per turn, if you touch the nail your turn is over
  • you can swing the hammer any way you like but if you touch the nail your turn is over, you can swing until you touch the nail
  • the basic rules do not require a flip of the hammer
  • the first person to drive their own nail perfectly flush to the wood wins
  • if your nail bends you must still get it completely flush to the stump
  • when inspecting a nail to check for fush-ness you use a bad Australian accent (aint in, it's in)
  • if anyone says it aint in, then it aint in
  • the game goes on until all the nail are driven in

Step 5: Play the Game

Begin by hitting your nail, remember if you touch the nail your turn is over. Once you've done your hit pass the hammer to your right.

Common Strategies:

One hit wonder- for pros only, grab the hammer with one hand, swing down and through the nail attempting to drive it in one shot

the turtle- small accurate hits with one hand, smaller than the one hit wonder

the woodpecker-two handed sharp strikes

the fanatic- ignore the rules and pound the nail flat-usually seen when there is only one person left in the game

If you get your nail down...CELEBRATE!

Step 6: Advanced Play

Once you get the basics the advanced options are endless

Flipping Variations:

If you are going to play with flips everyone must agree. The flip must be declared before it is attempted.

Add in a bit of a challenge by flipping the hammer before each hit, the hammer must flip end over end for one full rotation and then be caught. It can flip forwards or backwards. You must then hit the nail without adjusting your grip. If you drop the hammer your turn is over.

Double flip. Throw the hammer a bit higher and flipping a bit harder. For each additional rotation past 1 you get one extra hit. Eg a double flip is 2 hits, triple flip is 3, etc.

Under the legs flip. Flip the hammer up from between your legs, it must complete one full rotation and be caught. You must hit the nail without adjusting your grip. If you drop the hammer your turn is over. If you successfully complete the under legs flip you get 2 hits instead of one. If you are wearing a kilt or a dress a successful flip and catch is 3 hits.

Behind the back flip. Throw the hammer from behind your back flipping around in front of you. This is the most advanced flip and should only be attempted with lots of space around you. You must hit the nail in the orientation you catch the hammer. A successful throw gets 3 hits.

Game Play Variation:

Instead of hitting your own nail flush into the wood, the objective is to hit everyone else's nail flush. Last one with your nail above the surface wins. This version is a bit more aggressive but has more teamwork involved!

Try off handed only

Try other sized hammers or nails (think finishing nails and sledge hammers, railroad spikes, etc)

Try drinking more before each hit

eyes closed

check out variations on the game

Jimmy Fallon Playing Nails

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9 Discussions


1 year ago

Our way of playing, for a more tense game:

- Last man standing wins (your turn is used to hit other peoples nails)
- Masonry/brick hammer, thin end only
- Non-dominant hand
- Some variations of a dirty shot/drink for each loser as a forfeit

Great rule set to see a more tactical play style. people soon find out who not to target and who to avoid pissing off!


3 years ago

This girl knows how to flip a hammer...


Sounds like a great drinking game formula! Alcohol, sharp objects, throwing/catching of injury causing objects, more alcohol, swinging metal,alcohol. Much better than playing darts at a bar!

Nice tutorial, i've seen an interesting variation of this....with human nails :p


5 years ago



5 years ago

I played this with my friends it was awesome and fun nice job


5 years ago on Step 6

Home Depot sometimes has this challenge up for people to win T-Shirts.


5 years ago on Introduction

There are six words missing from the rules...

...and then you take a drink.