University of Vermont
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. Little Flask was one of the wrought ones; made to clinch tight and last long.
Dating a House Site With Nails – Dating a Building With Nails
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Artifacts found in a date last decade of date from the nails. Epstien, square nails range online dating old buildings the early 20th century through 19th century.
Nails as clues to age. 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 Dating a building with Nails. The scarcity of nails in colonial Virginia was reflected in a statute enacted in to prohibit settlers from burning down old buildings for their nails.
The Humble Nail – A Key to Unlock the Past
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.
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I own a house in Richmond whose walls contains a mix of square-nails and “modern” nails. It was built in Its main wooden frame has only modern nails. The internal trim baseboards and etc has the square-nails. Paleopilotclovis97 and Rogue Relic Hunter like this.
Dating a building with Nails. Before Hand-Wrought Nails; Early Machine Cut Nails (Crude); Early Machine Headed Cut Nails; Modern Machine.
The collection of cut nails that you see above were used in its construction. The house was renovated in , and carpenters Jim and Hank Carder saved the nails and made the above display. The woodwork in the Victorian-style [A] house was intricate. The house is wood-framed with wood flooring and sub-flooring throughout. The original roof was covered with slate tiles. The interior stairway is curved with wood paneling. The largest nails were used for framing. At the time, dimension lumber 2 x 4, 2 x 6, etc.
An estimated 15, nails were used in building this house. Photo: Persimmon Hill, ca.
All about nails…
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Nails provide one of the best clues to help determine the age of historic buildings, especially those constructed during the nineteenth century, when nail-making technology advanced rapidly. Until the last decade of the s and the early s, hand-wrought nails typically fastened the sheathing and roof boards on building frames. These nails were made one by one by a blacksmith or nailor from square iron rod.
After heating the rod in a forge, the nailor would hammer all four sides of the softened end to form a point. The pointed nail rod was reheated and cut off. Then the nail maker would insert the hot nail into a hole in a nail header or anvil and form a head with several glancing blows of the hammer. The most common shape was the rosehead; however, broad “butterfly” heads and narrow L-heads also were crafted.
L-head nails were popular for finish work, trim boards, and flooring. Between the s and the early s, various machines were invented in the United States for making nails from bars of iron. The earliest machines sheared nails off the iron bar like a guillotine. The taper of the shank was produced by wiggling the bar from side to side with every stroke. These are known as type A cut nails.
At first, the heads were typically made by hand as before, but soon separate mechanical nail heading machines were developed that pounded a head on the end of each nail.
Do It Together
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.
The dominating nail types have given archaeologists a tool to date old buildings , some parts of Norway and Finland, square nails have been common.
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.
Until the 18th century, nail production methods had not changed for hundreds of years. Iron ore and carbon heated together and then cooled created wrought iron, from which a nail length piece was cut and hammered on four sides to create a point. Hand-wrought nails have tapered but irregular and crooked square shafts. These nails have heads known as rose heads, a faceted and shallow pyramid-shaped design created from four blows of an ironsmith’s hammer. Between the end of the 18th and the end of the 19th centuries, nails were cut into shape.
In the early part of the period, nail-makers cut them by hand from a sheet of iron. Later, machine did the cutting, but nails were still made one at a time.