How to Make an Iron Letter Opener

Use a propane torch to weld iron into a starfish-inspired letter opener.


Materials and Tools:

5 medium-size horseshoe nails
1 very large horseshoe nail
brass and copper flux-coated rod
torch with oxy propane setup
leather welding gloves
safety glasses
jewelry grinder and wheels: wire, steel, buffing wheels, diamond grit wheels
metal polishes
metal lacquer
bucket of water


1. Twist the five medium nails by placing each one in a vise and bending with pliers. Place each nail in a small anvil and hammer the shapes flat. 

2. Align the five shaped nails and the large nail on firebricks as shown at right.

3. Wearing safety glasses and leather welding gloves, light the oxy propane torch. Heat the iron to the red-hot stage and melt the brass and copper rod onto the iron while sealing the pieces together. Use melted brass to decorate the iron surface as desired. Allow to cool, or immerse in a bucket of water.

4. Remove fire scale with a jewelry grinder with a steel wire wheel attached.

5. Sculpt and facet the surface of the iron with the diamond grit wheel. Sharpen the tip of the large nail with the wheel to create a pointed edge for opening mail.

6. Remove any remaining fire scrape or dust with the polish wheel and white diamond polish. Polish with a cloth.

7. Finish with metal lacquer and let dry.

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