Nail bending (but not nail biting, aka onychophagy) has been a staple of mentalists in recent years. While spoon bending can be highly impressive when presented well, nail bending is mentalism on a different order. Richard Osterlind, for instance, shows how to bend nails in at least one of his videos. But the approach used by Rasmus in his trick Steel is quite different. Let’s take a look.
The Steel package includes some regular nails and some special nails, the latter being bendable. (The video tutorial gives you a recommendation on how to avoid mixing these up, by the way.) And no, they can’t be bent back into shape as if they were spoons. You can probably already see the immediate downside here: you can use up the gimmicks and then will need a refill. But if you’re doing paid gigs and don’t mind defraying the cost of occasional replenishments, this is a strong effect that will really hammer home a solid impression on your audience.
The gimmicks are in fact so strong that they can be hammered into a piece of wood without bending. That’s impressive! And they come in three sizes. The smallest size is designed to be bent with one hand — if you have the hand strength for that.
You’re shown how to do psychological bends as well as more visual bends. The psychological bends resemble what is done with spoons, while the visual bends are more “to the point.” You’re also taught a switch or two, though switching is not absolutely necessary if you just have the spectator do a cursory inspection at first with a more detailed examination after the bend. Then you’re also given some really nice routines using the nails. Definitely a fooler and a reputation maker.
How practical is this? Well, if you’re doing walk-around mentalism, I’m not sure that having a pocket full of nails is necessarily ideal. But if you have a full show with a close-up segment or two — or you just wish to fool some friends and make an indelible impression — then this effect might just hit the nail on the head.
Conclusion: Very Good!