Most of us are familiar with the old square nails used centuries ago. What many of us are unaware of, however, is that those old nails were actually superior in design to modern wire nails. They have several times the holding power, and are less likely to cause wood to split. And perhaps even less well known is the fact that square nails are still manufactured today. They are even available in bulk quantities. Top: Hand forged 17th century iron nails and spike in the roof system of the Old Hawkins house, Derby, Connecticut. Bottom: Two 2.
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Our research indicates that nails were all wrought by hand stretching back thousands of years to the beginning of the Iron Age. Yes, that was a.
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Wrought Head Nails
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Wrought Head Nails in their crudest form date back to B.C. The Romans hand-forged them and they have been found in excavations and sunken ships.
They may have been forged by a blacksmith, or more likely, they were forged at home and were used for everything from building houses to hanging clothing, horseshoes, furniture and wagons. Interestingly, hand-forged nails can be used to accurately date furniture and woodwork. The art of forging nails dates back to at least BC, when the Romans started to use bronze nails.
They later switched to iron, which was harder but tended to rust away. Traditional hand-forged nails are easily identified by their square sides and tapered shape, with the nail head attached after the body is drawn out. They were so time consuming to produce and expensive that they often were scavenged from burned buildings, etc.
Dating Nails – Does this nail tell me how old this painting is?
Only the head and the point were forged, so these nails, which were common from the 17th to the early 19th century, can be distinguished from earlier ones by the sharp regular profile of the cut section. Machine-Cut Nails The first machined nails were flat and headless. From these were produced from rolled sections of plate iron, cut into strips of the same width as the length of the nail.
The strip was then placed under a powerful guillotine which cut off a single nail on an angle. Then the sheet was turned over and the next was cut. As a result these nails taper to a point on two sides only, producing a square point see illustration , and are easily distinguished from earlier cut nails.
The roots of producing nails by machine date from Nails in the s – s: hand wrought nails. Hand wroughht nails were used for construction and later.
Most everyone knows that handmade nails are older than machine made nails. But could you identify a handmade nail if you saw one? And could you separate an old nail from a reproduction nail? In addition to looking at how old nails were made, this article will also discuss how to examine nail holes, rust left by nails plus where, how and why specific types and shapes of nails were used.
Nails, modern or antique, are able to be used as fasteners because of the cellular structure of wood on the microscopic level. As a nail is driven into wood, the tip of the nail pushes apart or crushes wood cells in its path Fig. When the tip of the nail passes, the cells spring back and try to resume their former positions.
University of Vermont
Updates on restoration of MD colonial-era home. Until recently, most historians believed that the Cloverfields house was built in the s Swann , Rideout Now that they figured out the date of original construction, the preservation specialists working at Cloverfields are conducting research so that they can date the sections of the house added during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
Top: Hand forged 17th century iron nails and spike in the roof system of the Old Hawkins house, Derby, These date back to the s.
But it is apparent that the price of nails was constant, or near constant, for a long period of time, and thus, led to standard sizes as a result. For quite some time, nails have been sold by the pound–usually 1 lb. Nails are also sold by keg weight. The cut nail made its appearance in the mid’s. For example, Thomas Jefferson established a nail factory at his Monticello plantation as a way to increase his farm income.
His nail factory made both hand-forged and cut nails. It would not be until the middle’s that cut nails began dominating the marketplace. Cut nails are not actually “cut”–they are sheared from steel plate that is the thickness of the nail shank. Although routinely referred to as “square nails”, the cutting machine tapers the nail shank as it is sheared from the steel plate.
A second machine forms the head of a cut nail. The square nails in the above photograph are made in this manner. With the hand-forged nail, all four sides are tapered.
How to Determine the Age of Wood Beams in a Barn
And with you separate an old nail from a reproduction nail? In addition to looking nail how old nails were made, this article will also discuss how to nails nail holes, rust left by nails plus where, how and building specific types and shapes of nails were used. Nails, modern or nails, are able to be used as fasteners because of the cellular structure of wood on the microscopic level.
In woodworking and construction , a nail is a small object made of metal or wood, called a tree nail or “trunnel” which is used as a fastener , as a peg to hang something, or sometimes as a decoration. Nails are made in a great variety of forms for specialized purposes. The most common is a wire nail. Other types of nails include pins , tacks , brads , spikes , and cleats. Nails are typically driven into the workpiece by a hammer or pneumatic nail gun. A nail holds materials together by friction in the axial direction and shear strength laterally.
The point of the nail is also sometimes bent over or clinched after driving to prevent pulling out. The first nails were made of wrought iron.
All About Nails
When the tip of the nail passes, nails cells spring back age try age resume their former positions. This applies pressure to the nail shank Fig. The principle is the same for all nails old or modern regardless of shape or how they were made.
Wrought handmade nails (Wrought = beaten into shape by hammer blows). In the UK A replica of the hand made nails found on board the ‘Mary Rose’. Machine Wire nails will be found in a building put up in the period from then to date.
Looking at antique furniture, we often seek clues for authenticity and age. There are many factors that show true historic construction, but one clue that is often overlooked is the type of nail used to hold the piece together. Nails in antique furniture are often barely noticeable, but they are another key to unlock the history of wooden pieces. The quest for the ideal nail has taken centuries of development.
The ancient Egyptians and Romans used organic glue for wood furniture, especially with decorative veneer techniques, but like much advanced technology, glue for wood became a lost art after the collapse of Rome in until the Renaissance, around , when glue and veneer techniques reappeared. During the Middle Ages, furniture was held together with pegs, dovetails, mortise and tenon joints and a few nails. Archaeologists have found hand made bronze nails from as far back as BC.
The Romans made many of their nails from iron, which was harder, but many ancient iron nails have rusted away since.
History doesn’t name the person who first joined two pieces of wood with a sharp implement, but the results of that discovery are all around us. From the desk you sit at, to the bridge you cross on the way home, the creation of the nail has changed our lives forever. In the UK, where many Roman villa sites have been excavated, ancient nails have been found. At the fortress of Inchtuthil in Perthshire, , nails weighing 7 tonnes were found. Blacksmiths heated iron ore with carbon to form a dense mass of metal, which was then placed into the shape of square rods and left to cool.
encouraged archaeologists to use them as dating of the nail, burrs, and head style to date nails. To use his Hand forged nails were made from iron nail rods.
When dating a piece of antique furniture, one of the most important clues to its history is often overlooked. A nail may not be a noticeable style feature, but looking at them carefully can help you authenticate the age of a primitive or antique furniture piece before you buy. Like restorers of historical buildings, you can identify the period by the technology used to create the nails and unlock the past of furniture.
Until the 18th century, nail production methods had not changed for hundreds of years. Iron ore and carbon heated together and then cooled created wrought iron, from which a nail length piece was cut and hammered on four sides to create a point. Hand-wrought nails have tapered but irregular and crooked square shafts. These nails have heads known as rose heads, a faceted and shallow pyramid-shaped design created from four blows of an ironsmith’s hammer.
Between the end of the 18th and the end of the 19th centuries, nails were cut into shape. In the early part of the period, nail-makers cut them by hand from a sheet of iron. Later, machine did the cutting, but nails were still made one at a time. The shaft of each exhibits cutting marks where the nail is stamped out of a sheet of iron in much the same manner as a cookie cutter.
The nail has a tapered rectangular shaft but straight on two sides, and the shaft is smoother than that of the hand-hammered nail. The head is usually round or rectangular but sometimes has an off-center notch. Around , a machine was invented that produced a round nail drawn from a piece of steel wire and formed with a perfectly circular, stamped head and a sharp, cut point.
Do It Together
How to Identify the Age of Furniture by the Nails They are the round head , a general purpose nail and the flat T- head used as a finishing metal in cabinetry and other detailed pieces. The a seam would never appear in a hand forged nail or a machine cut furniture with forged head. Dating rough gritty surface texture instead of hammered surface on forged nails.
Shown about 3X actual size. This example shown about 3X square size. In general, virtually all cast nails are of recent manufacture.
Items 1, 3, 4and 5: appear to be forged rose head square nails, dating from the Hand made nails suggest the building was built before Cut nails suggest the.
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We want to thank those that helped House of Antique Hardware donate , meals as part of our community promotion. This donation allowed the Oregon Food Bank to provide thousands of families, in need, with meals. These old-style square cut nails are made in the USA from solid steel and are the perfect finishing touch for face nailing floors, or for nailing fences, siding, paneling or cabinets.
Ideal for authentic restoration work.