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Nailed It!

Nailed It!

They have been around since the dawn of time. Made from bone, wood or metal, their uses range from fastening and joining to giving you tetanus. Besides duct tape, nails are pretty much holding the world together. Right now, you are surrounded by dozens and dozens of them. All shapes and sizes but mostly unseen.

Nails have always been in demand. Some people’s jobs were to exclusively make nails. They were called “Nailers.” Nails were so scarce and expensive in early American times that people would burn old buildings just to get the nails as pulling the nails would have damaged them. After recovering the nails, a blacksmith could easily straighten any bent nails to be reused. Nails are measured in pennies, believed to be from older times when nails were sold by the penny. At the time, the abbreviation for pennies was d, so nail sizes are described as 2D, 3D, etc.

Nail Size Chart
The evolution of the nail was hand-made (wrought), cut nail and the modern manufactured nail.

hand wrought nailFor 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).

cut nailTowards the late 1700’s and early 1800’s, a nail machine was devised in the USA, which helped to automate the process. This machine had essentially three parts. The first lever cut a triangular strip of metal giving the desired width of the nail, the second lever held the nail in place while the third lever formed the head. The strip of metal was then turned through 180° to cut the next equal and opposite nail shape off the strip. These nails are known as cut nails. Soon nail making really took off, primarily in the USA and also the UK with its captive markets of the British Empire. The cut nail was produced in large numbers and various other shapes were devised to suit different purposes.

wire nailBy the start of the 1900’s, the first coils of steel round wire were produced and quickly machines were designed to use this new raw material. The first automatically produced wire nails, with no human intervention other than to set up the machine, immediately showed that this was the way to produce a cheaper nail. The wire nail quickly became the nail of choice, as it is today.

Hopefully this brief history of nails gives you a greater appreciation of the way the world is held together. Great skill and care is hammered into each nail. At Associated Housing Contractors, we also put a little love into it as well.

 

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