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A beginner's thoughts on nail-bending

Guest todd xxxx

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1) 16d finishing nails seem pretty darn short to me.

2) They're very sharp and having the point dig into the middle of your hand removes all thought of actually bending the nail.

3) Nail bending seems to be more about the toughness of your hands and pain tolerance than strength of the hands or wrists, at least with these small nails.

4) If you wrap the nail well, a 16d bends quite easily.

5) Length seems to have a HUGE effect on the way you would go about bending something.  In my very novice opinion, it would be better to find out exactly what your bending goal is, and just use hot-rolled steel in larger and larger diameters (or steel of the same length, but a harder material) rather than using smaller (thus, shorter) nails and having to revisit your technique every time you change lengths.

6) Don't try to bend your first nail in the car while driving home because you can't wait to try it.  Very bad idea.

7) Home depot rules.

8) Tom Black is one of the most impressive people on the planet.

9) I would have much more luck showing off my impressive #2 pencil-breaking technique to 3 or 4 year olds than I ever will bending a bolt of anything more than truly miniscule proportions.

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Guest JD79

Todd, I always wrap my nails, for safeties sake.  I don't have very tough skin or anything so the wrapping is an essential part of my bend.  I want to concentrate on the bending and not be worried about hurting myself from a sharp nail point.  

I've never tried bending in the car, but I have a hard enough time driving with two hands on the wheel and looking at the road, so I can't imagine what would happen if I was preoccupied.

And you are right, Mr. Black's bends are out of this world.


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   I agree with you that length has a HUGE effect on the way you go about bending...John Brookfield does too! John advises that you bend the size that is your goal to develop your muscles. John even suggests that, if necessary, you start out by bending cut clothes hangers, to get your muscles used to the movement and rhythm of the bend!

It is important to protect your hands when you bend - try using a handkerchief or washcloth over the ends of the nail and remember to leave the middle uncovered.

Keep after those nails and with persistence and determination, you'll be tearing up 60 penny nails, before you know it!


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Tom Black

  Todd, thanks for the complement, but I really am very average.  There are many other people who can do what I do, but they don’t write about it each week on the Internet.  I’m surprised more didn’t respond to Woody’s recent post about this.  If there’s anything impressive about me, and other guys on this board, is that they are willing to share their ideas, even the ones that were learned the hard way.  The actual bending is secondary to the sharing of the ideas.  

  Most of your observations are correct above.  The only reason I mention the 16d finishing nails as a starting point is because this was the actual way I started, it is not the only way, and knowing what I know now I definitely would have started with ¼” hot rolled steel, cut as short as I could bend it.  I guessing, but 8” lengths would have been all I could have done.

  By the way, I've been thinking of trying to bend a nail while doing a wrestlers bridge.  Woody always says I should say "Kids, don't try this at home" so I guess I should warn everyone not to try this, especially since I just thought of this while sitting on my head last night, and haven't tried it myself yet ;)  If you can't do a wrestlers bridge, but can bend a nail, I wouldn't suggest trying this until you practice the bridge first (I'm not kidding, there may be unexpected side torque).

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