Anatomy of a Nail Hole

Punching a nail hole seems simple, but plenty can go wrong

Most top forging hands will agree that making a perfect plain stamped shoe can be one of the toughest things to do. While it seems like this should be one of the easiest shoes to make, it isn’t.

There’s not a lot of “jewelry” hanging on this shoe, just three-quarters of a circle with a few nail holes. In fact, the lack of clips, fullering, toe modifications, calks, etc., is part of what make this shoe so difficult to make. That’s because there is very little to draw the eye away from your forging mistakes. If the shape of the shoe is off a little, it will definitely show. And whether you have good or bad nail holes, they stand out on a simple shoe.

Not Easy To Do

Nail placement is critical when making a handmade shoe. Putting nails exactly where the foot demands them is one of the best arguments for making a shoe, but the farrier must have both the skill and knowledge to do this correctly.

Though nail placement is of the upmost importance, it will be the topic of a future article in this “Back To Basics” series. This article will deal with punching a proper nail hole into the appropriate bar stock. 

The primary tools needed for punching a good nail hole are a forepunch and a pritchel. I also like to use a drift punch if I’m punching a shoe for city head nails. This doesn’t seem necessary when punching holes for E-head…

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Chris gregory

Chris Gregory

Chris Gregory is a Hall of Fame farrier and owner of Heartland Horseshoeing School in Lamar, Mo.

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