Nov 1897 Blacksmith and Wheelwright Nail Alphabet

An Alphabet

Made of Horse-nails

Source: Submitted to the November 1897 edition of the Blacksmith and Wheelwright by A. S. Ottey, Claymount, Del.

From A. S. Ottey, Claymount, Del. 

Before I was eighteen years of age I succeeded in doing some work, illustrations and descriptions of which I thought would be of interest to at least some of my brother blacksmiths. In those days – many years ago — horse-nails were all made by hand, and I myself have made many thousands of them.

One day while at work in my father’s shop a gentleman came in and, after watching me for a while said: “I see you can make horse-nails all right.”

“Yes,” I said: “I think I can make as a good a horse-nail as anybody. I can make a horse-nail out of the bar and by welding and a little hammering I can form out of those horse-nails every letter of the alphabet.”

The gentleman right there and then promised to give me ten dollars in gold if I could do this job as promised. Next day I started on my work and, only using my leisure hours, I succeeded in making every letter of the alphabet in four days. I got my ten dollars and enough praise to last me for a lifetime. The accompanying illustration gives a clear idea of how I put the horse-nails together to form the letters of the alphabet.

I have since that time, thirty-five years ago, made many signs and many letters, but I think I took more pride in that first alphabet than in any of the other work. Being of late confined to the house with sickness, I always look forward to the arrival of THE BLACKSMITH AND WHEELWRIGT as to a good and patient friend who helps me to pass away the time. 

 I haven’t created one of these yet so consider the materials, tools, and procedure to be educated guesses. 

Materials Needed:

  1. Horseshoe Nails


  1. Bend & weld horse shoe nails as shown in figure 1. 

Nothing to complicated about this project other than forge welding some small items.

For added fun make your own nails rather than buying them. 

Have you done this project? If so give it a rating. 

User Reviews of this project:

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January 31, 2024

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May 22, 2023

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