How to Make a Board with Nails in It

Many of you reading this may be thinking something like, “A board with nails in it?  Why would I want to make one of those?” or “I don’t think I need help making a board with nails in it.  It’s simple!” or “Why am I reading this drivel?  There are so many more interesting things I could be doing, even in Michigan”.  Well to all of you I say, you don’t know what you’re talking about.  A board with nails in it has vast number of uses, is anything but simple to make, and there is nothing more interesting in Michigan than these words on your screen.

Although the uses for a board with nails in it are endless, today I will just be focusing on the two most common uses — decoration and weapon.  The materials you will need are more or less the same either way.  You’ll need a board, some nails, a hammer, and a measuring tape.  Some board with nail artists also use a laser level for more intricate designs, but in my opinion the laser level is a crutch for millennials who haven’t figured out how to use a tape measure.  Plus I can’t afford one, so. . .

Alrighty then.  Lets get down to brass tacks (see what I did there? Brass tacks are a type of nail.  We’re doing a project with nails. Hilarious, I know. It’s what I do).  I am going to begin by teaching you how to make a decorative board with nails in it. Obviously, the materials for the decorative board with nails should reflect that the finished product will rely more on form than function.  In other words, we want it to be pretty, not deadly, so the board and nails need to be fancy, not swingable or sharp.  The wood, or board, is the most important part of this project.  It is the foundation upon which we will build our art. I’ll be using a piece of reclaimed red oak that I procured from an old barn I stumbled across while playing Pokemon Go.  When I say “procured” I mean that I pried that bitch loose with a tire iron.  Some of you may not have access to such a fine piece of wood, but any piece of wood will do for this first attempt.  Once you have the basics down and you have a couple of boards with nails under your belt (figuratively speaking — I suggest that you don’t store your board with nails anywhere near your belt or the junk that dwells near it) then you can start prying your own boards off your own barns that you stumble across while playing Pokemon Go.  For now, just grab yourself some wood.  The nails are also an important part of this project.  Since the nails are going to be protruding from the board at various depths, we’re going to want them to be attractive.  You’re going to want to spend a lot of time thinking about the size of the head of the nail, what it’s made out of, and how long it is. There are many types of nails — finish, box, roofing, plaster, brad, spiral flooring, sinker, duplex, etc.  Myself — I prefer a galvanized nail.  They’re so shiny.  But you do you.  If you’re taste in decor is more rustic you may choose to use rusty nails.  If you’re really feeling creative you can spray paint the nails any color you wish.

Once you have your wood in your hand and you’ve chosen some nails it’s time to start pounding.  But where?  Will the nails be in a linear pattern?  Will you use them to spell a word?  Will you pound them in randomly?  Will they all be pounded to the same depth or will they be all willy nilly?  There is a lot to decide, as you can see.  Here are a few finished products from my past students to inspire you.


The choices are endless!  You’re only limited by your own imagination. So get to work.

Now that we have the artsy board with nails crafting out of the way, let’s get to the real purpose of coupling boards with nails — violence and mayhem.  Let’s face it — when that first carpenter pounded a nail into a board with no intention of fastening that board to another board, which is what God made nails to do, he wasn’t trying to create something to hang on his wall.  He was pounding that nail into that board so that the pointy end would stick out the other side of that board.  Why would he do that?  Because he was planning to get all swingy with that board.  Maybe someone had done that carpenter wrong.  Maybe someone stole his fancy leather tool belt.  Or maybe some other carpenter had relations with his wife. Or maybe one of his apostles went behind his back and told some people some things.  I’m looking at you Judas.  Whatever the case, that first carpenter way back when had violence in his heart and he invented one scary ass creation to deal with it — the weaponized board with nails in it.

Disclaimer: The author is describing how to make a weaponized board with nails in it for the sole purpose of self defense or to be used to defeat zombies in the event of a zombie apocalypse.  By no means should the weaponized board with nails be used to seek revenge against the pain in the ass co-worker who continually takes your food from the refrigerator or piles shit on your desk when you’re not looking.  Nor should it be used against the owner of the dog who continually allows his dog to shat on your lawn and doesn’t even CARRY a plastic bag to give the impression that he MIGHT clean it up if only he’d noticed that his dog just took a dump.  Self defense and zombies — that’s it.

The materials for this project should reflect it’s utilitarian nature.  We want a sturdy board and some real pointy nails. And the shape of the board is very important this time.  Although a flat plank type board is great for the decorative board with nails in it, it’s not going to be useful at all for the weaponized board with nails.  Have you ever tried to swing a wide flat board?  It’s not easy.  First of all, it’s hard to get a good grip on such a board. So we’re going to want a board that is narrow at the handle end. Secondly, a wide board is not aerodynamic.  The flat plank is going to run into all kinds of wind resistance on it’s way to the target.  This can be solved in one of two ways.  Either you can find a board that is narrow and optimally rounded at the business end or, as your junior high principle discovered if you lived in the age of paddling as I did, you can drill large holes in the nail end to allow air to pass through unencumbered.  So if you visualize the optimal board for the weaponized board with nails in it — narrow and easy to grip at the handle end — narrow and rounded at the ouchy end — you should be imagining something that looks a lot like the photo to the right.  baseball batThat’s right, a baseball bat.  There’s no reason to reinvent the wheel here. Bud Hillerich, founder of the the Louisville Slugger company and father of the modern baseball bat, knew how to make a swingy board.  Perhaps he had a better way to hit a baseball in his mind when he sat down at his lathe, or maybe his intentions were less athletic and more homicidal.  His grandfather came to america from Baden Baden Germany after all. But whatever the case, Bud Hillerich has done all the prep work for us to make a bitchin weaponized board with nails in it.  So what of the nails?  Well, the diameter of the bat is already a few inches so a nice six inch nail is perfect.  Of course, a nail that long is going to be kind of thick so you may want to pre-drill some holes in the bat so you don’t split the wood.  Here are a couple of examples of the right way to fill a bat with nails.

bat with nails 2

And here is an example of the wrong way.

bat with nails 1

The student who made this board with nails wasn’t one of my best, as you might imagine.  How did he make those nice straight lines on the bat?  That’s right, a laser level.

Some of the old school board with nails artists refuse to use a prefabricated board of any kind.  If you agree with this philosophy, don’t be disheartened.  You can still have a very effective weaponized board with nails.  Here are a couple of great examples of projects created from scratch.

Perhaps not quite as aesthetically pleasing or as perfectly designed, but they’ll certainly get the job done.  You may want to wear gloves if you’re swinging the one on the left, though. That thing is a splinter waiting to happen.

Well, that just about does it for How to Make a Board with Nails in It.  I hope you’ve found it informative.  Next week: How to Peel a Banana — The Monkey Way.

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