How to Make Cowboy Spurs

spur image by CraterValley Photo from

Cowboy spurs are one of the most traditional and recognizable pieces of Western gear besides the cowboy hat. Custom-made Western spurs come in all kinds of different styles and can range from functional pieces with few frills or design elements to purely decorative spurs with lots of silver and engraving.

Determine what kind of spur you need or want. If you plan on using the spur on a horse, you should take into consideration your horses needs as well as your own. If you plan on making a purely decorative spur, the only limits are your imagination and how much metal you want to lug around strapped to your boot. Cowboy spurs have two primary functional elements, the rowel and the shank. The rowel is the spinning, 'spur' piece. It is small and round with typically sharp edges. The shank is a longer, slender piece of metal that comes out of the heel band and supports the rowel.

Decide which type of metal you want to craft your spur from. Typically spurs are made out of silver, stainless steel or iron.

Use a tape measure to measure width of your heel where the spur will sit to determine the length of the spur's heel band.

Measure a piece of metal out several inches longer than your heel band measurement. The extra length will be used to form the shank. Cut it out so that it is between half an inch and 2 inches wide.

Heat the spur metal until is is malleable. Form it into a “U” shape with a tail sticking off of the center of the middle of the back, almost like a “Y” except with the “U” as the top. This is the rough shape of your spur. You will want to use a grinder to smooth out the rough edges. Drill a small hole in the end of the shank to allow for attaching the rowel.

Design a rowel by looking at real rowels or patterns of rowels. If you do not plan on using your spurs on a horse, your rowel can be any shape you want it to be just so long as it will fit on the end of the shank without dragging the ground. Trace the rowel onto a thin piece of metal and then cut it out. Make sure to put a small hole in the center of it so you can attach it to the shank.

Use a small metal bolt or screw to fasten the rowel to the spur. Make sure not to make it too tight, the rowel should spin freely on the edge of the shank.

Use a metal engraving tool and add details and design to the spurs. You can stamp or fasten other metals or even gemstones and rhinestones to the rowels. Use a rotary tool to smooth over any sharp or rough edges.

Drill a small hole on either side of the to of the “U” shaped heel band of your spur. Run a leather strap or other band or chain through the hols to hold the heel band onto your foot.