Belmont Hill School Summer Program Students' work part 2: William the Conqueror - Popular Woodworking Magazine

Belmont Hill School Summer Program Students’ work part 2: William the Conqueror

 In American Woodworker Blog, Projects, Questions And Answers, Techniques

We sometimes stumble upon inadvertent discoveries, things that strike us as so quintessentially simple, and yet so great…. Such was the case of the nail-sword made by my student, William.

Kids are always on the lookout for new adventures. When William saw the old English anvil in the corner of the shop, he immediately wanted find out how he could make use of it. After all, anvils are fascinating creatures, they look like a miniature iron rhinoceros, or a unicorn, yet they will never charge at you – even if you hit them with a hammer.

I decided to give William an object – thin enough that he could manipulate it using a cold-forming technique with a Ball-peen hammer. I also wanted him to be able to take home a real “product” at the end of the experiment.
So I went to the depository box of forgotten & forsaken nails and bolts (every decent shop will have one or two boxes like his) and extracted a double-headed nail. I gave the nail to William, showed him how to hold the hammer and hit the nail. Action and Reaction: the first law of particle physics…. and of Life as we know it.


After a few minutes and countless "ding, ding, ding" noises, that were gallantly tolerated by his peers in the shop, a blank of a Lilliputian sword was born.

With a little help from a file and a DMT stone he finished and honed the sword.

Click on any of the images to view a larger version

You can guess what happened next….. A “sword” rush swept the classroom.. kids from all over started looking for nails ….. and indeed few more students learned similar skills….copying William and successfully completing a few more swords (P.S. the red on William's hand is paint, not blood, from his boat project that I'll be posting soon).

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