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My first attempt at spur making (pics)

Discussion in 'Shop Talk - BladeSmith Questions and Answers' started by Matt Shade, Nov 12, 2004.

  1. Matt Shade

    Matt Shade

    Nov 24, 1999
    Here's the results of my first attempt at making spurs. I did them last summer and got to use them at most of the horseshows I went to. They work great, although I'm not overly pleased with how they look. I suck at welding, its a fact I'll have to live with I suppose(wish I had a TIG, stick welders are not my friend).
    Anyhow, they're made of 3/16" thick hot rolled mild steel. Each spur is made of 4 seperate peices (not including the rowels and straps). One for the Band and 3 for the shank. I'm working on another pair now that are made of 2 peices. It makes the welding a little bit easier, but it was a lot more difficult forging the bands to the shape I want. I haven't had time to try leatherwork yet so I bought the straps. Bought the rowels too just cause making a pair would be nothing but an exercise in frustration.
    My main complaint is that when they rust, they pit very easily. I talked to a guy at the quarter horse congress who had a whole booth with hundreds of custom bits and spurs, but all he could tell me was that they used cold rolled steel (his dad is the one that started the business and handles that kind of stuff) so I don't know if I would be better off going with something I could harden or what to do. Theirs were hot blued, mine are rust browned. I don't think it matters alot either way on fighting rust when your dealing with horse sweat, dirt, mud etc.
    The silver around my name is just silver solder. I carved/engraved my name in really deep then back filled it with solder. Then drawfiled it down so that the letters were exposed and started in with the browning. Its not as even as I like and one spur has lot better contrast than the other. I think in the future I might make the letters out of SS sheet and either pin or braze them on.

    Sorry for the picture quality. Its the best I could do holding them over a scanner.

    Attached Files:

  2. Gossman Knives

    Gossman Knives Edged Toolmaker Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Apr 9, 2004
    Matt, I like them. Good job. Remember what I said about a set. ;) Nice job on the lettering too.
  3. Matt Shade

    Matt Shade

    Nov 24, 1999
    Thanks alot Scott. I'll keep working at it and hopefully we can work something out. The second pair is coming together a little better, but I've got a ton of work left to do on them.
  4. Mark Williams

    Mark Williams Moderator

    Nov 28, 2000
    I wouldn't know a good spur from a bad spur. But the look good to me Matt. Why dont you dress e'm up with some filework?
  5. Burchtree

    Burchtree KnifeMaker & Moderator Moderator

    Mar 15, 2002
    I like em a lot. I don't think I'd want some pair of shiny, rust-free, pretty-boy spurs if I were a cowboy. :)

    Those look tough, and the spurs look like they'll get that horse's attention.
  6. Will52100

    Will52100 KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Dec 4, 2001
    Looks good to me Matt, and thats a nice touch with your name. One other way is to stamp/engrave your name and fill with silver braze, eigther way looks cool.

    Don't think many cowboys in the old days had bright shinny spurs. One easy way to help them out is after browning, boil them in water so that they turn blue. Anouther is heat the spures to a low red heat and dip in old motor oil for a few seconds and then wire brush till cool-takes some practice, but leaves a tough black finish.
  7. Matt Shade

    Matt Shade

    Nov 24, 1999
    Thanks alot everybody :D

    Honestly.....I didn't even think of filework. Now I know what I will be doing tommorrow on the next set though :cool:

    They definitely get the horses attention. I actually made them just for horseshows, because the 6 point spurs (much duller flat points on the rowels) for everyday riding/training just weren't enough. The horse would be great until we got in the arena in front of the judges where she knew I couldn't lift my foot clear up past my head to kick her, then she'd be lazy:grumpy:. These ones she just needs tap or a little pressure to get her moving :D

    Thanks for the info on finishing. I think I will try the boiling trick after browning on the next pair. I don't want them shiney really except for the lettering. I just don't like pitting, don't want them to fall apart. Most people won't be as good about wiping them down and oiling them as I am.
    I will have to try and find some silver braze too, because the solder is hard to work with, the spur has to be heated to just the right temperature, too hot and it runs everywhere. The solder's doesn't offer the best contrast either.

    Thanks again everybody :D
  8. Gossman Knives

    Gossman Knives Edged Toolmaker Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Apr 9, 2004
  9. renerod


    Oct 22, 2008
    what did you do to shape them, i'm gonna make a pair for myself. any info you can provide would be a big help.
  10. SteelSlaver


    Feb 17, 2007
    I am luck enough to have my grandfathers spurs made by an old time smith in Montana. Yours look good. Jim
  11. rhrocker


    Jan 18, 2004
    You guys dug up a 4 year old post, however I enjoyed re-reading it!
  12. Matt Shade

    Matt Shade

    Nov 24, 1999
    I was surprised to see this too rhrocker :D


    It will probably just take some experimenting for you. I made that pair out of 4 peices. The band was forged to shape as one peice and then I welded on the shank, then welded tabs on the shank to hold the rowel. It worked but took alot of clean up (should add that I did it with a stick welder...)

    More recent pairs I've made out of 2 peices. I start off and forge 2-L shapes, with the short leg being the length I want the shank. I clamp the short legs together and weld the joint on the inside of the band. Then I heat it up in the forge and shape the longer legs into the band. This is much cleaner and faster. You just have a little work spreading the end of the shank to accept a rowel. Which could easily be avoided by adding a spacer between your 2- L shapes.

    Before I do any of the bending or welding I cut slots for the tabs that the straps mount to. I just drill 2 holes then cut and file the middle out. Then I round the edges a little bit so that tabs don't bind.

    For the tabs, I bend .040" stainless steel around and then peen a carriage bolt in for the stud. I grind the head stamps and coating off so they're smooth and will take the same finish as the rest of the spur.

    I've made a few more pairs since then, but don't know if I have any pics of them. I need to re-up my knifemakers membership and post some work again.
  13. cunningham


    Dec 22, 2007
    bitsandspurs.freeforums.org Lots of good info there.Sorry,dont know how to link.Chad
  14. JTknives

    JTknives KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Jun 11, 2006
    I like to heat up the steel then dip in oil till cool then put in the oven at like 400 with some oil still on the steel. seams to work good. i might have to try the wire brush idea
  15. mattwheaton


    Jul 9, 2006
    Matt, I have been making custom spurs for about two years now. I have a way of making them from one piece. The process is very simple. I started making knives which initially brought me to this site. My wife wanted a pair of spurs for Christmas, so I made my first set. Turns out I am a better spur maker than knifemaker. PM me for details.


    Attached Files:

  16. cummins2500


    Dec 25, 2009
    Just wondering if there are any spur makers on here that could try to help out with a easy finish "polish etc ..."
  17. Broncobustr


    Feb 20, 2011
    are there any spurmakers out there that would be willing to file to a sharp point the rowels on a pair of Chilean spurs that I just acquired? The spurs will not be used on horses but will be for show. Get in touch if interested.


  18. rayban


    Apr 14, 2007
    It's about time we see some spur makers on here!:thumbup:
  19. Patrice Lemée

    Patrice Lemée

    Aug 13, 2002
    Sorry for the stupid question cause I know nothing about horses.
    Don't that hurt and cut the horses?:confused:

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