Dating square cut 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.
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Antique Square Cut Nails
Looking at antique furniture, we often seek clues for authenticity and age. There are many factors that show true historic construction, but one clue that is often overlooked is the type of nail used to hold the piece together. Nails in antique furniture are often barely noticeable, but they are another key to unlock the history of wooden pieces.
The quest for the ideal nail has taken centuries of development. The ancient Egyptians and Romans used organic glue for wood furniture, especially with decorative veneer techniques, but like much advanced technology, glue for wood became a lost art after the collapse of Rome in until the Renaissance, around , when glue and veneer techniques reappeared.
During the Middle Ages, furniture was held together with pegs, dovetails, mortise and tenon joints and a few nails. Archaeologists have found hand made bronze nails from as far back as BC. The Romans made many of their nails from iron, which was harder, but many ancient iron nails have rusted away since.
The hand-forged nail changed little until well into the 's. For thousands of years, the traditional hand-forged nail was square and tapered, with a hammered head attached by the blacksmith.
One nail at a time was heated and laboriously pounded out to shape with a hammer on an anvil. Nails were fairly valuable, and ruined buildings were often burned and nails were scavenged from the ashes to reuse. The name refers to the price of nails in England in the 's: the price of nails for one penny gave the size: 4d 4 penny nails cost 4 English pennies or pence. One hundred larger 10d 10 penny nails cost 10 pence. Most local blacksmiths made nails.
Thomas Jefferson, a true Renaissance man, made nails on his plantation. Until the very end of the 's, most nails in better furniture had a head that was rose-cut or faceted like an old miner's cut diamond. Here are examples of hand-forged nails with tapered square shafts and hand-hammered heads from the 's:. This new technology was also employed by Jefferson, and the new cut nails had rectangular heads attached by another machine, one nail at a time.
This greatly accelerated the manufacture of nails, and these rectangular nails quickly became dominant by the early 's. Here are examples of small cut nails from the early 's:. Cut nails continued as the standard until the end of the 's, and were used in building construction, ships and furniture. These nails fairly accurately date furniture to the 's, although it is worth remembering that sometimes modern nails were added in subsequent repairs.
Machinery was developed to produce cut nails in the 's, and they are still used in flooring and concrete applications, where holding power is paramount, and power nailing tools are standard.
Machine made cut nails are also made for use in reproduction or hobbyist replica furniture, but they are so perfect and identical that it is usually easy to see that they are new. This is an example of a replica cut nail:. These continue to be used to attach small moldings and trim. About in America and in Europe, the modern wire nail was developed. Machinery was invented to cut pieces of steel wire, sharpen a point at one end, and put a flat round head onto the other end.
These nails were much cheaper to produce. Because their sides were straight rather than tapered, they have only a fraction of the holding power of cut nails with tapered sides. Nevertheless, the reduced cost factor made wire nails the standard very quickly.
A reasonable date for furniture originally constructed with round wire nails is after Here are examples of the modern straight-sided manufactured wire nail:. 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. In the 's, the round wire nail with straight sides and a round head are the standard. Nails are one of many clues to the age and authenticity of antique furniture and building construction as well. Author Ken Melchert has taught Art History for many years. Here are examples of small cut nails from the early 's: Cut nails continued as the standard until the end of the 's, and were used in building construction, ships and furniture.
Here are examples of the modern straight-sided manufactured wire nail: The simple nail serves as a key to furniture dating.
how old are square nails
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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.
Do It Together
Here at Campus Archaeology we collect a lot of nails. They come in varying sizes and shapes, and can be found across the historic campus. Often nails found from the 19th century are coated with rust after years of sitting in the ground. This can make it difficult to determine their shape or construction. Regardless of how bad they are, we collect them all. One of the questions we get is whether we can actually learn anything from a nail. Production of nails has varied throughout time, and changed drastically with industrialization. By looking at the shape of the nail and the way is was made we can determine the time period it is from. These were made one at a time by blacksmiths. A square iron rod would be heated, and the end shaped into a point on four sides.
All about nails…
Looking at antique furniture, we often seek clues for authenticity and age. There are many factors that show true historic construction, but one clue that is often overlooked is the type of nail used to hold the piece together. Nails in antique furniture are often barely noticeable, but they are another key to unlock the history of wooden pieces. The quest for the ideal nail has taken centuries of development.
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.
Dating a House Site With Nails – Dating a Building With Nails
When dating a piece of antique furniture, one of the most important clues to its history is often overlooked. A nail may not be a noticeable style feature, but looking at them carefully can help you authenticate the age of a primitive or antique furniture piece before you buy. Like restorers of historical buildings, you can identify the period by the technology used to create the nails and unlock the past of furniture.
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How to Identify the Age of Furniture by the Nails
Вскоре она едва заметно кивнула и широко улыбнулась. - Дэвид, ты превзошел самого. Люди на подиуме с недоумением переглянулись. Дэвид подмигнул крошечной Сьюзан на своем мониторе. - Шестьдесят четыре буквы. Юлий Цезарь всегда с нами.
Что ты говоришь? - Хейл невинно вздохнул. - И в качестве милого побочного развлечения читать переписку простых граждан. - Мы не шпионим за простыми гражданами, и ты это отлично знаешь.
The Humble Nail – A Key to Unlock the Past
У Халохота был компьютер Монокль, мы и его проверили. Похоже, он не передал ничего хотя бы отдаленно похожего на набор букв и цифр - только список тех, кого ликвидировал. - Черт возьми! - не сдержался Фонтейн, теряя самообладание. - Он должен там .
Я… я… прошу прощения, - заикаясь, сказал Беккер и застегнул молнию на брюках. Повернувшись, он увидел вошедшую в туалет девушку. Молоденькая, изысканной внешности, ну прямо сошла со страниц журнала Севентин.
Джабба тяжко вздохнул. Он знал, что Фонтейн прав: у них нет иного выбора.
Он поймал себя на том, что непроизвольно пятится от незнакомцев. Тот, что был пониже ростом, смерил его холодным взглядом. - Сюда, мистер Беккер. Быстрее. Беккер повернулся и побежал, но успел сделать только один шаг.
Она снова прошлась по кнопкам. Они не реагировали. - Выключите ТРАНСТЕКСТ! - потребовала. Остановка поисков ключа Цифровой крепости высвободила бы достаточно энергии для срабатывания дверных замков. - Успокойся, Сьюзан, - сказал Стратмор, положив руку ей на плечо.
Такси все еще продолжало крутиться, и в ожидании столкновения он сжался в комок. Раздался оглушающий треск гофрированного металла. Но Беккер не ощутил боли.