Dating furniture square nails, the history of nail making

How to Date Antique Furniture

October 2019

Ezekiel Reed from Bridgewater Massachusetts developed the first machine that could cut a nail including its head in one operation. We've found nails of every size around here, but this was a first. Cut nails leave a more rectangular hole and around or rectangular head. Nails can also be produced in copper and bronze. The interesting hand-wrought spike shown here, contributed by InspectApedia.

Cut nails were one of the important factors in the increase in balloon framing beginning in the s and thus the decline of timber framing with wooden joints. Just above are details of the hand-wrought iron spike-nail that we retrieved from a post and beam structure framed before in New York's Hudson Valley. This could be that it's a type of wood they don't like.

The shaft of each exhibits cutting marks where the nail is stamped out of a sheet of iron in much the same manner as a cookie cutter. Other brass hardware can be an indicator of age as well. That might help us or other readers make a suggestion of what the nail was for.

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. Imagine the limited aspirations of the first pre-bronze age constructor to join two pieces of wood with a sharp implement. Cut nails are still made today, however, with the type B method.

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. Tremont supplies restoration contractors and others working on historic buildings and for historians, Tremont offers a reference set of modern reproductions of old nails fasteners, shown above. Glasgow Steel Nail Co has been involved in many interesting projects that have included providing nails for the Globe Theatre in London, restoration work on Stirling Castle and other castles. Below you can see the Treenail joining two rafters at the ridge of this home near Poughkeepsie New York.

Nails made by this method are known as type B nails. Here are some close-up details of the hand wrought spike we introduced earlier. Then the nail maker would insert the hot nail into a hole in a nail header or anvil and with four glancing blows of the hammer would form the rosehead a shallow pyramid shape.

  1. But because of their smooth shape, modern nails have less holding power than hand-forged or cut nails.
  2. The simple nail serves as a key to furniture dating.
  3. The first screws were crafted in the s by blacksmiths using square nail stock that was heated and pounded until it was somewhat round.
  4. How to Identify the Age of Furniture by the Nails.
  5. Until the last decade of the s and the early s, hand-wrought nails typically fastened the sheathing and roof boards on building frames.

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The quest for the ideal nail has taken centuries of development. Photo courtesy Tremont Nail Company. This kind of evidence can be used to establish the approximate period of construction or alteration of a building. By nail making machinery had advanced to produce cut nails at high volume and low cost and at improved reliability.

Dating furniture square nails

The history of nail making

How to Determine the Age of Antique Furniture
The Humble Nail - A Key to Unlock the Past - The Harp Gallery

Above are nails used to secure accordion lath - a plaster base found in a rural U. The nail shown above in the photo and detailed further below was hand-made in the Northeastern U. Silk, wool, and cotton have been spun and woven into a variety of damasks, satins, dating manama and brocades with many different patterns.

Look for differences in nail styles within a piece of furniture if you suspect two or more pieces from different sources have been joined into a composite piece. As you examine the piece, sleuth for clues that support your initial theory that you have a piece of authentic period furniture. Looking at the bottom or back of a piece, or inside its doors and drawers, can provide important clues about whether or not a piece of old furniture was machine cut or crafted by hand.

One nail at a time was heated and laboriously pounded out to shape with a hammer on an anvil. The nail has a tapered rectangular shaft but straight on two sides, and the shaft is smoother than that of the hand-hammered nail. Most local blacksmiths made nails. Association for Preservation Technology International. These continue to be used to attach small moldings and trim.

Tips for Dating Old Pieces Made in America

Dating a House Site With Nails Dating a Building With Nails

The first automatically produced wire nails with no human intervention other than to set up the machine immediately showed that this was the way to produce a cheaper nail. Also on some boats or ships the level of carpentry was more-skilled than and finished wood surfaces smoother than timbers used in barn and building construction. Quite so, though I don't see obvious hand-hewn marks there are a few very faint ones. Probably securing or nailed into a Timber. It will be interesting to see photos of the Timber itself.

Aware of the brisk trade in iron, later explorers such as Captain James Cook brought supplies of nails and hoop iron with them to barter for freshwater, fish, pork, and vegetables. These nails are known as cut nails. With the rapid development of the Bessemer process for producing inexpensive soft steel during the s, however, online dating tips for the popularity of using iron for nail making quickly waned. Generally timber that has been floating on the water for a long time has been eaten by ship worms and is full of holes. Because of the Gulf Stream it is possible it crossed the Atlantic.

The Humble Nail A Key to Unlock the Past

  • Do you know what it's called, and what it was used for?
  • When dating a piece of antique furniture, one of the most important clues to its history is often overlooked.
  • James, Thank you for a very interesting nail photo.
  • Later timber frame beams were sawn in mills using circular saws.
  • One way of changing the mindset is to think in terms of the price per nail in comparison with other old artifacts being used and indeed what can be purchased today.
How to Identify the Age of Furniture by the Nails

Wooden nails - Tree Nails or Treenails Post & Beam Construction

Screws made from about through the mids were partially machine made giving the threading a more even appearance, according to Taylor. The restorer is looking to use similar nails to ensure the authenticity of the restored building. The tips were blunt in these oldest screws, and each one was unique. This machine had essentially three parts. When hand planes were used to smooth woods, they more often than not left some sort of uneven surface.

One aspect of that has been the expectation that because wire nails are cheap, the cut nail should also be cheap. Within six years, more steel-wire nails were being produced than iron-cut nails. Nevertheless, the reduced cost factor made wire nails the standard very quickly.

Honing your wood identification skills can really pay off in this area. Whether the project involves restoration or the building of a replica, a genuine cut nail made using a process that has not changed in years lends a degree of authenticity to the project. It's possible that it did cross the Atlantic of course not by swimming or floating but buoyed by wood. Later, machine did the cutting, but nails were still made one at a time. In addition to nails, building material, wood saw cut marks, and other hardware details can further assist in determining building age.

Click here to watch a movie of the process. The presence of brass hardware at all also tells a tale. Timber frame construction initially used hand hewn beams, a free site for dating later manually or mechanically sawn beams cut by a pit saw.

His first invention was a tack making machine which he invented at age eighteen and perfected over the next six years. Flat metal strips of around two feet mm in length and the width slightly larger than the nail length was presented to the machine. Compare these details to the machine made nail photographs throughout this article. Tremont further explains that in North America nails were made by hand, often as a winter activity. What's interesting and unusual are those regularly spaced ribs which may have been made deliberately to avoid withdrawal that is to create withdrawal resistance.

The Mansfield, Massachusetts Tremont Nail company's historical notes cited below indicate that nails have been made by hand dating back to B. Hand-hammered nails, dating from the s or earlier, leave a square hole with an irregular impression at the top from a hammered head. But like I said I have items dating back to while metal detecting.

University of Vermont

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. These nails were made one by one by a blacksmith or nailor from square iron rod. As explained earlier, british guys dating american girls the first cut nail machines replicated the handmade nail - the square tapered nail with a rosehead. Early wire nails were made first in smaller sizes.

How to Date Antique Furniture

Dating furniture square nails
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