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.

How to Identify the Age of Furniture by the Nails

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The a seam would never appear in a hand forged nail or a machine cut furniture with forged head. Dating rough gritty surface texture instead of hammered.

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Dating furniture square nails

Most of us are familiar with the old square nails used centuries ago. What many of us are unaware of, however, is that those old nails were actually superior in design to modern wire nails. They have several times the holding power, and are less likely to cause wood to split. And perhaps even less well known is the fact that square nails are still manufactured today.

Tremont Antique Nail is the oldest manufacturer of nails in the U.S., producing the Nails in their crudest form date back to B.C. The Romans hand-forged.

InspectAPedia tolerates no conflicts of interest. We have no relationship with advertisers, products, or services discussed at this website. This article series describes 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. It includes useful dates for the manufacture of different nail types.

Page top photo: sprites. A physical examination of old or antique nails and fasteners and other building hardware combined with questions about the country, city, and building or other location where the nails were found can offer clues to the probable age and original purpose of the old nail or spike.

Antique Square Cut 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.

Wrought Head Nails in their crudest form date back to B.C. The Romans hand-forged them and they have been found in excavations and sunken ships.

For more information E-mail us at info westernmaineblacksmith. This page will provide insights and history into items associated with the craft of blacksmithing. A Short History of Nails. Man has been making and using nails for a long time, at least years and maybe longer. Along with forging of weapons and knives, nails were one of the first metal items made in volume from copper and then iron.

Copper and bronze nails continued to be used in shipbuilding as iron came into wide use in other construction. Iron nails from the Romans have been found in Britain. All of these nails were hand forged one at a time. For centuries, the stock for nails would be hand slit into square cross section from iron that had been pounded out.

The “sheet” was most likely made with waterpower heave hammers. Then in , a major improvement was made with the invention of the slitting mill by Englishman Bevis Bulmer. This slitting mill could cold shear a series of square sections from a thin bar of wrought iron. Bundles of these nail rods were “loaned” to local folks who would convert them to nails often using the home hearth as their forge.

Dating iron nails

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.

Hand forged nails generally date from before ; four-sided, with a distinct sharp point, the head was formed by hammer blows that left a distinct pattern shaped.

They may have been forged by a blacksmith, or more likely, they were forged at home and were used for everything from building houses to hanging clothing, horseshoes, furniture and wagons. Interestingly, hand-forged nails can be used to accurately date furniture and woodwork. The art of forging nails dates back to at least BC, when the Romans started to use bronze nails.

They later switched to iron, which was harder but tended to rust away. Traditional hand-forged nails are easily identified by their square sides and tapered shape, with the nail head attached after the body is drawn out. They were so time consuming to produce and expensive that they often were scavenged from burned buildings, etc. Nails that were used for fancy work like fine furniture often had small heads, which allowed them to be hidden in the wood, the mark of a good craftsman.

Interestingly, some of these same types of nails can be found in the hidden woodwork nooks and crannies of our beloved Heritage Center Museum. DMCHS wants to hear from you. We are collecting stories from folks who had family members who were part of the Hawkeye Native Society, and who worked at the pearl button factory in Burlington. Stories can be emailed to Julie Martineau at juliem dmchs.

For more information, to ask questions or to offer comments or suggestions, call or email dmchs dmchs. Digital access or digital and print delivery. Site Archive.


Nails as clues to age. Most everyone knows that wooden nails are older than machine made nails. In addition to looking at how square nails were made.

35 Antique Hand Forged Iron Square Head Nails. $ Vintage! 3″ Salvaged​! Blacksmith Hand Forged Iron Floor Board Nails. $

This category of artifacts represents 1. Noticeably absent are heavy implements and large iron items of hardware, suggesting that these items were salvaged at the end of the fort’s occupancy. Sir George Simpson gives some interesting comments on the nature and high value of ironware sent to the northwest by the Hudson’s Bay Company in He states that ironmongery in general was vital, but of poor quality.

The supplies of this Department [Athabasca] generally speaking are of good quality, the Ironmongery excepted. The ice Chissels are badly tempered. Our Iron Work is the most important article of Trade in this Country.

When Were Square Nails Used In Furniture?