Update: I’m Out Of Nails

Posted: April 28, 2011 in Strength Stunts

I’ve been bending short steel since November of ’09, when my friend Josh Hangarne (The World’s Strongest Librarian) showed me what it was all about. At that time in my life, I really needed an outlet. My dad was dying, and I was in major need of some healthy way of releasing the anger and tension that I was feeling. Finding nail bending was a really a life saver and I was crushing nails with a vengeance there for a while, just to keep myself from falling apart.

Of the local home improvement outlets, the only place that has 60 penny nails has proven to be Home Depot. They’re around 8 cents per, if you get them one by one. I remember that first day, shifting from foot to foot, wondering how many to buy, finally walking out with around six of them, only having to come back for more the next week.

I soon figured out that I’d need to buy nails in bulk, if I was to stay out of The Depot for more than a week at a time. I looked around and found that they had a box of 50 lbs of nails on for, if memory serves, around $56. I didn’t need to do a cost analysis to figure out that was a heck of a lot of nails. I walked out with the box.

Like new love the world over, mine burned hot and wild at first. I bent just about every day, until I had a blister on both my index fingers. I bent until my arms and wrists and hands ached like hell. I bent a few times until I bled. Between the fascination of defeating steel and the mental turmoil that was going on in my life, I was going ape shit on the nails, and they were rapidly being depleted.

In time, things changed in my life. My dad passed away, finally out of his misery. The early fascination with bending cooled a bit. I knew I could bend a 60D with ease, at least in the overhand fold and underhand method. I could do a 60D and a 20D at the same time. I nearly pulled off a 60 plus two 20s a few times. I’d gotten pretty satisfied.

For a while, it might have been weeks between bending sessions. I had discovered archery by then, and I had a new passion. My nail consumption went way down. My big ambition that had been unmet until that time was bending in the “reverse” or “terminator” style. After getting over some little physical dings (sore elbow, sprung biceps tendon), I trained my body to do bend that way, as well. It’s become my favorite way to bend now, in fact.

Anymore, my bending is more “quality” than quantity. Whereas I used to bend twenty or more nails at a time, sometimes even 30+, I usually bend four nails at a time, one with each method. With this revised, infrequent bending, my nails have lasted me until today.

Today, at work, I did a little demo for a co-worker, and bent the very last four nails from my big 50 lb box. That’s a lot of bent steel, and a lot of toughening I’ve done to my hands and arms. I guess it’s time to go back to Home Depot. I wonder how long the next box will last.

Stunt well, and stunt safely!

  1. Mike says:

    Hey Patrick,

    I like this story. You’re the first (and only) person I ever saw bend large diameter nails with their hands. The thought that such a stunt might be posible had never crossed my mind – limited imagination I guess. Untill I saw you do it, bending nails was just something that inadvertantly happened while hammering. It’s funny in hind site that you only bought six nails on your first trip to the Home Depot:)

  2. Mike,

    Bending a 60D seems pretty out there when you first come upon the idea. That said, it’s probably within the reach of most people who are in decent health and are willing to put the time in toward that goal. It is funny when I look back at the baby steps. The nails didn’t last long, and I quickly learned my lesson. There are a lot of tougher shanks to bend, but some of them are a big step beyond a normal nail. The “mountain” is the Ironmind Red Nail. I have yet to even hurt a Red Nail’s feelings, let alone bend it.

  3. Bobby-T says:

    Pretty neat my friend!! Any progress toward bending that nemesis RED NAIL? That can’t be too far away. Also, I’d like to bet that the #4 C.O.C. is on the horizon as well.


  4. Bobby, the red nail still heaps derision upon my name and points out my character flaws. The red nail is easily twice as hard to bend as a 60D. It is serious, serious business, and you don’t bend it without really devoting a lot of time to the pursuit. In the captains of crush, the #3 is so hard as to initially appear impossible, while the #4 is so far beyond that that only four or five people have ever closed them under official conditions.

    On a good day, I can close the #2.5 COC with my right hand. Lefty, I’ve only closed it twice. I suspect that closing the #3, even with my concerted attention, may take quite a while. I am hoping to do so by the end of the year.

    The red nail, though…I just don’t know. I seem to have reached the edge of “neural disinhibition”, which is to say, I’ve trained my nervous system to fire even when the self-protection mechanisms would tell it not to. Now, I physically have to build muscle and ligament strength enough to defeat 5/8ths inches of cold rolled steel. Who knows how long that might take.

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