Isex cam - Dating old houses

The cut nail was produced in large numbers and various other shapes were devised to suit different purposes.By the start of the 1900's, the first coils of steel round wire were produced and quickly machines were designed to use this new raw material.

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Eventually, in the USA, towards the late 1700's and early 1800's, a nail machine was devised which helped to automate the process. Flat metal strips of around two feet (600mm) in length and the width slightly larger than the nail length was presented to the machine.

The first lever cut a triangular strip of metal giving the desired width of the nail, the second lever held the nail in place while the third lever formed the head.

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.

The fact that the nail had a round parallel shank that had up to four times less holding power didn't matter so much.

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.

The 'Oliver' - a kind of work-bench, equipped with a pair of treadle operated hammers - provided a mechanism for beating the metal into various shapes but the nails were still made one at a time.

The company is also prepared to consider special projects, for example, it produced a bronze boat nail for the building of the replica ship the 'Matthew' that in the year 2000 re-traced the 500 year old voyage of John Cabot who discovered New Foundland.

One aspect of that has been the expectation that because wire nails are cheap, the cut nail should also be cheap. Attempting to follow that line of thought, no matter how ridiculous as the processes are so different, has meant that many cut nail manufacturers have ceased business over the years because margins were so low.

Cut nails for the restoration industry can amount to just a few pence each and it only takes a moment to assess their long term value say in comparison with the can of Coca Cola or Mars Bar you might buy for lunch.

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