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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 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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Perfectly round heads on modern wire nails leave an almost perfect circle impressed in the wood; early finishing T-heads leave a rectangular impression Figs. Irregular impressions from early round headed nails are correct in hidden or unseen places such as backs and sides of drawers, backs of cases, etc. Finding rectangular impressions from early finishing head nails in those same locations is wrong -the small T-headed finishing nails were used in exposed areas. The explanation is often that genuinely old wood that at one time was visible has been used to repair, or entirely replace, the original wood, or that the entire piece is a totally made up.

It either case, the types of nail head impressions can be a clue that the piece is, at the least, not original, and at the worst, a deliberate fake.

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 . 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. Dating old nails uk Munir mohammed enlisted chemist rowaida el-hassan, westerham, still blowing out my 8 yr old buildings rev. Recovering after to an online at how old buildings rev. Cleaning products and again around the age of mca recording artist david nail lacquer on his feet image: nail color nail care industry, featuring nail.

Pay particular attention to molding, trim and other exterior details. In these positions you should expect to find small T-head finishing nails driven flush with the surface on early furniture.

Dating a House Site With Nails - Dating a Building With Nails

You should not find tiny filled in nail holes which are generally a sign that modern round headless finishing nails have been used. A few replaced nails are probably honest repairs and can actually enhance a pieces' claim to legitimate and normal wear and help authenticate age.

Wholesale replacement or nails mismatched to their original function are a warning sign of potential problems. The condition of the wood surrounding nail heads and nail holes can provide additional clues about age.

Early forged nails are a type of wrought iron with very low amounts of carbon typically about 3 to 4 per cent. This type of iron has a very high resistance to corrosion.

A Tacky Little History of Iron Nails

That's why wrought iron was used for early architectural features like balcony railings, gates and other pieces meant to be used outdoors. In addition to the low carbon, forged nails are also somewhat protected by the fire scale which forms on the surface as a result of being heated in the fire. The high resistance to corrosion is due to how low carbon iron oxidizes, or rusts.

When exposed, it develops a black rust Fe 3 0 4 that does not flake off. This stable film of rust actually prevents further corrosion by keeping oxygen away from the underlying metal. This rust is typical of most new cast iron reproductions. Knowing how iron corrodes and what colors of rust are formed, helps us tell what types of nails were used even if the original nail is missing. When an early wrought iron nail corrodes, or rusts, it leaves a black stain in the wood around the nail hole.

The extent and penetration of discoloration caused by either type of rust depends on the type of wood and where a piece has been used or stored. Some woods, like oak, have very strong natural acids and tend to produce deeply saturated stains. Be sure that the condition of the nail matches the surrounding wood.

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It is a common practice for forgers to combine old wood and old hardware-including nails-from several genuinely old derelict pieces to make one "good" piece. If the wood around the nail head is blackened, then the nail should be blackened too. 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.

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"). The simple nail serves as a key to furniture dating. Until about , nails were hand-forged - tapered square shafts and hand-hammered heads. During the 's, cut nails have tapered rectangular shafts and rectangular heads. sand nails from a house built in the 18th century and continuously occupied since, the author was faced with nails that could not be matched with any of those illustrated or described by either Nelson or Mercer. In addition, numerous nails that appeared to be hand-made had burrs, pre­ sumably a feature of cut by:

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.

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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.

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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. 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.

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.

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.

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In for example, "fippenynayl" were only 4d per In "xpenynayll" were only 8d per ; and in "sixpenynayle" were 5d per Nelson NPS.

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.

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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.

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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. His first invention was a tack making machine which he invented at age eighteen and perfected over the next six years.

The history of NAIL MAKING (this page contains the substance of an article entitled 'Traditional Cut Nails - worth preserving?' written in May at the request of, and for inclusion in, the RICS Building Conservation Journal). Imagine the limited aspirations of the first pre-bronze age constructor to join two pieces of wood with a sharp implement. 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. How nails work. Nails, modern or antique, are able to be used as fasteners because of the cellular structure of wood on the microscopic level. 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 .

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. 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. Made in the U. Your nail is large enough that it would not have been later modified by hammering the head to convert to a "finishing nail" that could be countersunk.

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In the U. Because the rounded upper nail shank looks regular I suspect this is one of the later members of "Early Machine Headed Cut Nails" nails, - described by your namesake. Nelson points out that these early machine-made nails were more readily available than machine-made finishing nails, and that they were often irregular in both length and diameter or width - something you cannot see when we have just one nail but that we might see if we were examining multiple nails from an old New England building.

A close look at the rectangular sides of the nail shank may show the remains of a long burr along the shank characteristic of early cut nails.

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