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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.

In addition to nails, building material, wood saw cut marks, and other hardware details can further assist in determining building age. The nail shown above in the photo and detailed further below was hand-made in the Northeastern U. To provide a chronology of the production and types of nails we first describe wooden nails or "tree nails" followed by a chronological list of useful dates for iron nails.

Post and beam construction - est. Timber frame construction initially used hand hewn beams, later manually or mechanically sawn beams cut by a pit saw. Later timber frame beams were sawn in mills using circular saws. Timber framing using post and beam construction with mortise and tenon joint connections was used in Europe for at least years before it was first employed in North America.

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In our photo you can see the round sawn-off peg that secured the tenon of the lower vertical post into the mortise that had been cut into the horizontal beam.

The posts and beams were cut to size, mortises and tenons were cut, and the builders marked the corresponding joint components with numbers or letters - in my photo you can see the.

Below you can see the Treenail joining two rafters at the ridge of this home near Poughkeepsie New York. By a typical timber frame building used multiple bents and girt beams, may have been more than one story tall, and included an exterior made of horsehair-reinforced cement stuccoed over hand-split lath. Adapting from various sources including Nelson's article cited below we give a rough chronology of types and uses of nails, focusing on North America but including other earlier nail production and use as well.

The Mansfield, Massachusetts Tremont Nail company's historical notes cited below indicate that nails have been made by hand dating back to B. The denomination of nail sizes based on the price per nails e. In medieval England nails were made into a great variety of special shapes and sizes and sold by the hundred, e.

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From this practice developed the classification of nail sizes according to their price per hundred, a system which seems to have been established by the fifteenth century.

After that time nails slowly became standardized by size rather than price. In for example, "fippenynayl" were only 4d per In "xpenynayll" were only 8d per ; and in "sixpenynayle" were 5d per Nelson NPS.

Nails can also be produced in copper and bronze. Glasgow Steel Nail Co has been involved in many interesting projects that have included providing nails for the Globe Theatre in London, restoration work on Stirling Castle and other castles. The nails are generally used for doors, floors, gates, indeed anywhere a period nail has to be displayed. Buy up to 12 for the same shipping cost. Railroad nails or spikes are special kinds of fasteners with offset heads that were designed to secure base plates or rails to ties on the track. If you're interested in displaying pieces of history from railroad companies of the past, you can find a wide array of collectible spikes or nails for sale at. few copper nails. Most of the date nails manufactured were made of steel. But here again, there are exceptions. Other metals used were copper, malleable iron, and after the 's, aluminum. Some railroads, such as the Milwaukee Road, because they had a vested interest in their copper holdings used copper nails almost exclusively. During the.

The s saw the first nail producing machines - First Nail Making Machines - Slitting Mills The roots of producing nails by machine date from Hand wroughht nails were used for construction and later more for decoration.

The scarcity of nails in colonial Virginia was reflected in a statute enacted in to prohibit settlers from burning down old buildings for their nails. Some nails were made in the colonies in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, but despite this local production very large quantities of nails were imported during the same period.

Although traditional Tahitian culture did not sanction extramarital sexual relations, within 48 hours of Wallis's arrival, Tahitian husbands and fathers were encouraging their wives and daughters to swim out to the Dolphin and offer the sailors sex in exchange for iron nails. Aware of the brisk trade in iron, later explorers such as Captain James Cook brought supplies of nails and hoop iron with them to barter for freshwater, fish, pork, and vegetables.

Cook's visits [to Tahiti] in AprilAugustand August only heightened the islanders' desire for iron and other western goods.

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Denver, Tahiti, p. The colonists shifted to local production of nails and nail import from England was reduced or ceased altogether. Nelson notes the first generation of cut nail manufacturing involved cutting all nails from common sides with heads hammered on as a separate production step. The first nail making machines in North America appeared during the late 's - earlier than one might have guessed.

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The slitting mill, introduced to England insimplified the production of nail rods, but the real first efforts to merchandise the nail-making process itself occurred between an initially in the United States and England, when various machines were invented to automate and speed up the process of making nails from bars of wrought iron. These nails were known as cut nails or square nails because of their roughly rectangular cross section.

Cut nails were one of the important factors in the increase in balloon framing beginning in the s and thus the decline of timber framing with wooden joints. Kirby Above and shown just below are nails used to secure accordion lath - a plaster base found in a rural U. Below: our green arrow points to the characteristic edge ridge that illustrates a machine made cut-nail. The red arrow points to a split in the cut nail, characteristic of the effort to align the fibres of iron running down the length of the nail - discussed in our description of nails made after - below.

As I mentioned about a different nail in photos on this page, the fact that the delaminating or split in this nail run lengthwise parallel to the nail shank suggest that the nail was of iron whose fibers ran lengthwise, making the nail one probably made after the late s. Though still used for historical renovations, and for heavy-duty applications, such as attaching boards to masonry walls, cut nails are much less common today than wire nails.

The cut-nail process was patented in America by Jacob Perkins in and in England by Joseph Dyer, who set up machinery in Birmingham. The process was designed to cut nails from sheets of iron, while making sure that the fibres of the iron ran down the nails.

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His first invention was a tack making machine which he invented at age eighteen and perfected over the next six years. This made production of tacks, which Thomas and his brother had been previously engaged in making, easier and more efficient at a rate of five-hundred per minute. NPS cited below. I do not understand why there are fins on the shank directly below the head.

I have found coins I the area as far back as Dan, Thank you for the helpful photos of your antique nail.

Today I Found a Copper Nail From a Sailing Ship So Long Ago Maybe Tomorrow I?ll Find but sometimes you can find parts of old shipwrecks that date back over years. Old Shipwrecks around Veracruz About all that might be left of the ships would be the copper nails and any metal in the cargo. Dating a building with Nails. Before Hand-Wrought Nails; Early Machine Cut Nails (Crude) Early Machine Headed Cut Nails; Modern Machine Cut Nails (source of the illustration above: Thomas D Visser - "Nails: Clues to a Building's History" - See also his book "Field Guide to New England Barns and Farm Buildings"). Nails as clues to age. 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.

My estimate of the age of your nail is or a bit older, with an "earliest" date of Looking carefully at the irregular-round nail head in your photo and the pinch marks just below the nail head, the earliest we could date this nail might be.

I think some early nail making machinery often had a longer life than ascribed by Nelson.

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In some communities, old nail making machine may have, for a time, continued in production alongside later, more-sophisticated machines producing more-rounded and more-uniform nails.

Cabinetmakers continued to use cut nails into the start of the 20th century until stockpiles were used up, so you may find either type of nail in furniture between and But because of their smooth shape, modern nails have less holding power than hand-forged or cut nails. To determine if missing nails were antique or if they have been replaced with modern nails, look closely at the shape of the hole and the color of the wood around it. Hand-hammered nails, dating from the s or earlier, leave a square hole with an irregular impression at the top from a hammered head.

Cut nails leave a more rectangular hole and around or rectangular head.

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Black staining appears where an original iron nail was in place for many years, with additional rust staining if it was replaced by a newer nail. Look for differences in nail styles within a piece of furniture if you suspect two or more pieces from different sources have been joined into a composite piece. Cynthia T. Toney, a former newspaper designer, began writing in for a newsletter devoted to decorating with salvage.

How to Identify the Age of Furniture by the Nails

As advertising and marketing director for an educational publisher, she wrote copy for its website, catalogs and mailings. The principle is the same for all nails old or modern regardless of shape or how they were made. Mathematical formulas can accurately predict the holding power of nails based on size of nail, depth nail is driven, and the species and moisture content of the wood.

Nails have been in use since the beginning of the Bronze Age, ca. From that time to the beginning of the 19th century, ca. A nail cutting machine designed in the s cut the nail's shank and reduced hand labor to only forming the head of the nail.

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At the time of their introduction, these machine cut nails were sometimes referred to as "cold nails" because they were not made at the forge. By the s, the entire nail was completely machine formed producing the rounded shank or wire nail that continues in use today.

American hand wrought nails-those made entirely by hand or headed by hand-were done by metal workers specializing in nail-making as well as blacksmiths who made nails part time or to order.

Most Date Nails were made of steel, though copper, aluminum, iron, and even brass were also used. Nails were driven into ties at either the treatment facility or at the time they were installed into the track. Nail lengths varied from 3/4" up to 3", with diameters starting at 1/8" and increasing in size up to 5/16".

The work was hard and gave rise to an early expression, "to work like a nailer" used to describer any intense activity. Most of these nails were formed from a nail ro a bar of iron available from iron mills close to the approximate size of the nail.

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Nail rods were at first imported by American nail makers from mills in England but later used bars made in the colonies. The first step in making a hand forged nail was to form the shank. Next, the head was formed with a heading tool Figs.

Early nails have two types of heads: a round head whose head is above the surface of the wood and used for general purpose fastening and a T-head whose head is driven below the surface and used for finish work. The forged round head nail is also called a rose head because the hammered head often resembles the petals on a rose.

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A variation of the T-head, the L-head, is the same as a T-head but with half the head cut off. Cross sections of pre nails are generally square; shanks from are rectangular; modern shanks are round. The earliest forged nails are identified by their irregular shanks and hammer marks on both shanks and heads.

Get the best deals on Copper Antique Nails when you shop the largest online selection at Free shipping on many items | Browse your favorite brands | affordable prices. New old stock 1" Cut Copper Nails One pound or approximately nails. $ +$ shipping. To determine if missing nails were antique or if they have been replaced with modern nails, look closely at the shape of the hole and the color of the wood . The Mansfield, Massachusetts Tremont Nail company's historical notes (cited below) indicate that nails have been made (by hand) dating back to B.C. Nails in the s. The denomination of nail sizes based on the price per nails (e.g. ten penny nails or .

When viewed from above, early round heads have a meandering outline that is anything but round. Later machine cut shanks will still show hammering which was necessary to form the head.

Fully machine-made nails used since the s have round shanks and round heads like those in Fig.

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Modern heads in particular are virtually always a nearly perfect circle. Reproductions of hand made nail shapes are currently being made by casting in a mold. Generally, this means along the shanks and across the heads. Rather than a broadly dimpled hammered surface, cast nails have a very gritty textured surface. Some late 19th century nails were cast but had very limited use.

A Tacky Little History of Iron Nails

In general, any nail with molds seams or grinding marks should be considered of recent manufacture. Some genuinely old cut nails with hand forged heads may have burrs along the edges of their shanks.

These burrs should not be confused with grinding marks that appear in the middle of the shanks and heads. Looking at the holes left by the missing nails can provide valuable information. The irregular forged heads of early nails, for example, leave an irregular impression in the wood.

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