You have a lot of extra horseshoes lying around. I know you do. Some of them are in great shape. Some…less so. You also have some tools and a forge and anvil to shape them with. Since shoes are such a common resource in the life of a farrier, seems a bit narrow minded to limit them to putting on horses or hanging up on various doors for luck, doesn’t it? Here’s a quick foray into the world of making other stuff with horseshoes.
1. Home Décor and Gifts
This is probably the one you’re most familiar with if you’ve ever turned old horseshoes into other things. There’s a pretty wide range of possibilities here beyond horseshoe-themed wall art. Although if that’s your style, then the internet has much to show you. Candlesticks, dreamcatchers, picture frames, signs, trivets, coatracks, Christmas wreaths and holiday decorations, lampstands, towel hooks and wine racks are just some of the items that can be made by basically keeping the shape of the horseshoe and minimally welding it. Homesthetics has a page on crafts you can make with horseshoes if you were looking for an easy and great looking gift idea for someone.
Horseshoes can be turned into interesting pieces of furniture that are lightweight and versatile. And by interesting I mean interesting in a good way, not in the way kid’s art is…interesting. You can keep their shape and weld them together to form the base for solid wood or glass-topped side tables, coffee tables, or patio tables. Or create a table top that’s open concept. You can weld mesh backings to the shoes to create a piece that’s entirely metal and still lets you place things securely on it. Chairs, benches, sofas can all be made in combination with other materials for indoor or patio use. Farm Show Magazine has a story about an enterprising welder, David Limkemann, who made an entire canopy bedframe out of horseshoes. People are so creative.
3. Outdoor Pieces
Large metal pieces for the outdoors cost a fortune, and rightly so, given how much time and energy they take. If you have the time and you have the energy, though, you can save yourself a ton of money by making things yourself. Fire pits and grills are a good example of outdoor items you can make out of horseshoes, likely with the tools you have to hand. Gates and doors can be affixed to their posts using hinges made of horseshoes. They can also reinforce or be used as accents on wooden gates and doors if you have an outdoor space you prefer a little privacy in (for whatever reason. Nobody’s judging). Or just make the whole gate out of shoes if privacy’s not a concern (again, nobody is judging here). Birdbaths, arches and pergolas, garden art – the sky’s the limit. Pinterest is a great source for ideas.
4. Tools and Utensils
You use tools to make horseshoes, but you can also use horseshoes (and, of course, other tools…) to make tools. Paring knives, for example, can be made by cutting and reshaping a horseshoe. Shoes can be refurbished to make hoof gauges, clinch blocks, hoof stands and tool boxes. Create household utensils like forks, spoons and table knives, small tongs, corkscrews and bottle openers, chisels and woodworking tools. The durability of your projects will depend, of course, on the materials the shoes are made of and on your own technique. Shoes also make excellent handles for things like fireplace tools.
The great thing about upcycling the horseshoes lying around your shop, farm, home and/or truck is that you can experiment, destroy them horribly, and not feel bad about it because there’s more where that came from. And who knows – you might get so good at making other things that you discover a way to supplement your income, too. If you’re getting inspired, also check out EcoEquine’s ideas for things to do with baling twine. It’s the only resource more plentiful than old horseshoes!
By: Cindy McMann
image 1: Janet; image 2: deansouglass (Creative Commons BY)