Dating handmade nails

It was not until around 1600 that the first machine for making nails appeared, but that tended really to automate much of the blacksmith's job.

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' written in May 2002 at the request of, and for inclusion in, the RICS Building Conservation Journal)For 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. 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. The shank of this nail has opposite side cutting burrs because the stock this nail was cut from was rotated 180∞ between each cut. This deformation was caused by the heading machine clamp pinching the shaft at this point to hold it securely so that the head could be formed. The cutting burrs are on the same side of the nail shaft.Same side burrs are evidence of an improvement in nail technology implemented in 1835. It was no longer necessary to rotate the stock between each cut.These nails represent American nail technology from the early 1700s until 1900.These nails look different because they are different.The house was renovated in 1995, and carpenters Jim and Hank Carder saved the nails and made the above display.The woodwork in the Victorian-style [A] house was intricate.Each type was made by a slightly different process using new technology as it advanced.The ability to identify nails and the period in which they where made makes it possible to date accurately the construction period of anything fastened together with nails.This process works for a chest of drawers, a cupboard, or for a house. Edwards and Tom Wells, researchers from Louisiana State University, have published a working paper on historical nail technology.Their work chronicles the development of nail technology from 1720 to 1900.

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