Horizontally aligned and densely packed multiwalled carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs) were synthesized in an open air, without the need for a controlled atmosphere, using a rotating cathode arc discharge method with the help of a metal scraper. The physical force exerted by the scraper results in in-situ alignment of MWCNTs along the direction of scrape marks. This strategy, which enables the alignment of nanotubes in a controlled fashion to any length and direction of interest, was examined to determine the force required to align a nanotube. A model is developed to understand the alignment process. Using the nanoscratch technique to mimic this strategy, and incorporating the data obtained from the nanoscratch technique into the model developed, the minimum force required to align a MWCNT, as well as the energy required to align a gram of nanotubes, has been estimated. The method demonstrated represents an economical approach for large-scale synthesis of aligned MWCNTs at low costs. © Indian Academy of Sciences.