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Thread: Old time nail experiences? Cut, blacksmith made, clout, etcetera?

  1. #1
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    Old time nail experiences? Cut, blacksmith made, clout, etcetera?

    I got about 30# of these in a significant craigslist score and finally got around to fooling with them.

    If I predrill wrong, these are a great way to wreck a project. When I predrill correctly, I have done about 20 test joints now, these suckers can make a stout joint. Stronger than is needed to build a stick framed house, hard to demolish.

    I have no problem with round nails in stick framed construction, they work for that and I understand the need for speed. But these square and rectangular tapered little rascals are much closer to wood screws in holding power than they are close related to round/ wire nails. When done correctly these are a bugger to take back apart.

    I am impressed with them. What have you found?

  2. #2
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    Modern machine cut nails are not that impressive in holding power. One good lick, and they're loose.

    The old hand forged ones are much different. I have hundreds of pounds of hand forged nails saved from different jobs, but the ones in framing, that were probably put there while the wood was green, you can't get back out without breaking something. They used to burn down old structures to save the nails.

  3. #3
    Old nails (and screws) were tapered and created a wedge which increased the holding power. Along with the fact that they typically aren't perfectly smooth, all those imperfections help keep the fasteners from baking out.
    They are great in the right situation.

  4. #4
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    As with quite a few things in modern society, it has changed not because it's better but because it's faster and cheaper to manufacturer.

    After seeing some newly built homes, it will be very interesting to see how they hold up to time. My coworker bought a new house and it has cardboard air vents and the floor joists are OSB sandwiched between to boards. The piping is pex tubing and the tub is a creaky fiberglass.

    Visually everything looks nice, but I have doubts of long term durability
    Always put the crappy side against the wall

  5. #5
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    My use of cut or square nails was for making five and six board benches during my days of selling at the farmers market:

    Bench 4182014.jpg

    Before driving them in, they would be set in a vise and a cold chisel was used to make a few barbs along the corners for better holding power. From what others are saying that may have been overkill.

    There is one thing that always bugs me when watching the movie National Treasure with Nicolas Cage. It is in the scene where he is hanging on to a piece of a platform that is coming undone. It is clear the board was held on with more modern wire nails. Cut nails would have been used at the time it was supposed to have been made.

    jtk
    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

  6. #6
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    There is a profession called "Historical Content Advisor" (or something) in film making. The field does not have many old carpenters or there would be a lot less mistakes.
    A wooden bridge that is well over 100 years old is being demolished and burned near us. I have my rake and magnets ready for when the ashes cool.
    The image is a nail I found on the ground on top of Ben Nevis. It is machine made but interesting (at least to me) DSCN1872.jpg
    Last edited by Maurice Mcmurry; 01-14-2022 at 7:44 PM. Reason: image

  7. #7
    Jason is correct. The change from cut nails to round wire nails was made for profitability and speed of manufacture. Cut nails had to be punched out of sheets of steel and there was considerable waste that had to be recovered, remelted, and re-sheeted. Wire nails are run off of continuous coils of steel wire and cut and headed in a single operation at phenomenal speed. Just a guess, but I'd bet that the wire nails are run at speeds of 50 times that of the cut nails.
    Last edited by Dave Anderson NH; 01-16-2022 at 8:05 AM.
    Dave Anderson

    Chester, NH

  8. #8

  9. #9
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    I love old style cut nails. They hold like G.I. Joe with the Kung Fu grip.
    Sharp solves all manner of problems.

  10. #10
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    Old iron from the burning of the bridge built in 1865. Also machine made. Also interesting to me.

    IMG_0323 (2).jpg

  11. #11
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    Another how its made video. A bit off topic (but not too far, I hope). One of my favorites.


  12. #12
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    Maurice, that was a great video, thanks for posting.

    jtk
    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

  13. #13
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    I watched it several times before I noticed the Gentleman light his pipe with 3 pounds of red hot iron. That came up on YouTube auto play after I watched Dick Proenneke's "Alone in the wilderness" for the tenth time. We got to ride bikes on Rail Trails in New England. The old Railroad grade often follows the rivers. The rivers Flow past the old mill towns. The family would have to pry me away from snooping around the old mills and mill ponds. : )

  14. #14
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    More junk and a coat rack made from junk. My old nail collection has a new champion.

    DSCN1873 (2).jpgIMG_0326 (2).jpgIMG_0324 (2).jpg

  15. #15
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    Willam Clark's lost map is in the news. The burning bridge is on the Boone's Lick Road. There are some giant, square, hand made nails in the wreckage. The 20 inch x 20 inch creosote soaked oak timbers they are in may get buried before I can retrieve one.
    Last edited by Maurice Mcmurry; 02-08-2022 at 7:28 AM. Reason: spelling

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