History of Iron Nails

InspectAPedia tolerates no conflicts of interest. We have no relationship with advertisers, products, or services discussed at this website. Here we describe antique and modern cut nails focusing on tree nails, wrought nails, and cut nails used in wood frame construction or interior finishing or carpentry work. We include useful dates for the manufacture of different nail types along with supporting research for various countries from Australia and the U. The history, number and types of nails is both interesting and enormous, even if we confine our discussion to just those used in the construction of buildings. Little Flask was one of the wrought ones; made to clinch tight and last long. An examination of nails and fasteners and other building hardware is a complimentary effort useful in determining the age of a building and its components. A close observation of the type of fasteners used in a building is one of the most popular means of estimating its age. The three types of nails found in North American construction include hand wrought nails, machine cut nails, modern round “wire” nails. Nelson NPS and other nail chronologists point out, however that a wealth other details can describe the date of production and use of each of those three general nail types.

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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.

This example shown about 3X square size. In general Nails as clues to age Most everyone knows that wooden nails are older than machine made nails.

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In addition to looking at how old nails were made, this article will also discuss of pre nails are generally square; shanks from are rectangular;​.

Imagine the limited aspirations of the first pre-bronze age constructor to join two pieces of wood with a sharp implement. History does not record who it was, but the incredible results of that inspirational moment are all around us – in the houses we live in, the bridges we cross, the furniture we sit on.

Nails have been around for a long time. As soon as man discovered that heating iron ore could form metal, the ideas for shaping it quickly followed. In the UK, early evidence of large scale nail making comes from Roman times years ago. Any sizeable Roman fortress would have its ‘ fabrica ‘ or workshop where the blacksmiths would fashion the metal items needed by the army.

They left behind 7 tons of nails at the fortress of Inchtuthil in Perthshire. For nail making, iron ore was heated with carbon to form a dense spongy mass of metal which was then fashioned into the shape of square rods and left to cool. The metal produced was wrought iron. After re-heating the rod in a forge, the blacksmith would cut off a nail length and hammer all four sides of the softened end to form a point.

Then the nail maker would insert the hot nail into a hole in a nail header or anvil and with four glancing blows of the hammer would form the rosehead a shallow pyramid shape. This shape of nail had the benefit of four sharp edges on the shank which cut deep into timber and the tapered shank provided friction down its full length.

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Nails provide one of the best clues to help determine the age of historic buildings, especially those constructed during the nineteenth century, when nail-making technology advanced rapidly. Until the last decade of the s and the early s, hand-wrought nails typically fastened the sheathing and roof boards on building frames.

These nails were made one by one by a blacksmith or nailor from square iron rod. After heating the rod in a forge, the nailor would hammer all four sides of the softened end to form a point. The pointed nail rod was reheated and cut off.

Old Fashioned Square Cut Nail Installation Items 1, 3, 4and 5: appear to be forged rose head square nails, dating from the 18th through early 19th Century.

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. Stamped Nails A machine capable of incorporating a simple head was introduced in the s, and by the late s nails had begun to be stamped, with several nails being produced at a time.

Wire Nails The wire nails which dominate the market today date from the late 19th century, although cut nails remained the principal form used until the s, and are still common. Early Screws Although the principle of the screw is ancient, the wood screw – essentially a round nail with a threaded shaft and a slot in the head to aid its removal – seems to have developed in the mid 16th century when they were used in locks and clocks in particular.

However, these early, hand-forged screws were expensive to make and they were not used for ordinary joinery work. Machine-Made Screws By the late 18th century screws with blunt ends were made by machine, and in the s George Nettlefield began to produce the modern pointed screws at his factory in Birmingham, initiating their widespread use in joinery. The appearance of the head of hand-forged and cut nails is easily distinguished from modern fixings, and for restoration and repair work it may be necessary to use modern reproductions.

How to Identify the Age of Furniture by the Nails

The collection of cut nails that you see above were used in its construction. The house was renovated in , and carpenters Jim and Hank Carder saved the nails and made the above display. The woodwork in the Victorian-style [A] house was intricate. The house is wood-framed with wood flooring and sub-flooring throughout. The original roof was covered with slate tiles.

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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. The Romans made extensive use of nails.

Hand Forged Nails

Here at Campus Archaeology we collect a lot of nails. They come in varying sizes and shapes, and can be found across the historic campus. Often nails found from the 19th century are coated with rust after years of sitting in the ground. This can make it difficult to determine their shape or construction.

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When Were Square Nails Used In Furniture?