How to make rings from horseshoe nails

Written by jane smith
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Making rings from horseshoe nails is complicated by the fact that the steel they are made from has been hardened. Before you can bend a horseshoe nail without breaking or cracking it, you must heat the nail and slowly cool it to room temperature. This process produces scale and discolouration, which is easiest to remove before bending the nails into the desired shape. Horseshoe nail rings are an appropriate gift for rodeo, barrel racing and steeplechase fans.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Horseshoe nails
  • Electric hotplate or propane torch
  • Vice grips
  • Coffee can filled with vermiculite
  • Coarse, fine and extra-fine steel wool
  • 2 pair needlenose pliers
  • Ring mandrel or finger-diameter steel rod
  • Ball peen hammer
  • Jeweller's rouge
  • Polishing cloth

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  1. 1

    Place horseshoe nails on an electric hotplate or hold them with vice grips while you heat them with a propane torch until they are dull red. Refer to the Steel Heat Color Chart for Blacksmiths at for comparison (see Resources). Colours are as seen in dull or dim light. Place them in a coffee can of vermiculite and allow to cool slowly to room temperature.

  2. 2

    Use coarse, fine and extra-fine steel wool, in that order, to remove any scale or discolouration acquired by the nails during the heating and cooling process. Repolish the nails.

  3. 3

    Hold one end of a horseshoe nail with one pair of needlenose pliers while you bend the nail into a rough ring shape with a second pair.

  4. 4

    Use a ring mandrel or a finger-diameter steel rod and a small ball peen hammer to smith the nails to an even, rounded ring by striking them at a 90-degree angle. Refer to the photo of the finished horseshoe nail ring at NetEquestrian (see Resources).

  5. 5

    Use jeweller's rouge and a polishing cloth to polish the ring to the desired finish.

Tips and warnings

  • Wear wraparound eye protection and heavy leather work gloves while heating and smithing.
  • Keep a large, fully charged ABC fire extinguisher and a 5-gallon bucket of water within hand's reach while using a torch.

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