Nails -

There is no date in history fixing the first use of Nails, but it is of curious interest that up to only a century ago they were still exclusively hand-made, and even as late as 1850 it was the general custom in this country for the nail maker with his forge and anvil to come with the carpenter to make the Nails needed in the erection of a building. Iron has been the material chiefly employed for many hundreds of years, but bronze, brass and copper Nails have been found in very ancient work.

The terms "4d," "6d," "10d," etc. - a mystery to many people! - originated when Nails were sold by the hundred. When 100 Nails Nails weighed 2 pennyweights they were called 2d; when 100 weighed 20 pennyweights they were called 20d, etc., and the names have been retained although the comparative weights of the various sizes have changed greatly.

The first nail-making machinery was originated in Massachusetts in 1810 to make "cut Nails" from steel or iron plates. Cut-nail machinery is to-day very similar to that first used, except that the plate, which must be reversed as each nail is cut, is now turned automatically instead of by boys as originally. The use of cut Nails has been greatly reduced in late years by the introduction of Wire Nails, the first machinery for their manufacture reaching the United States from Germany in 1875. Wire Nails are in many ways superior to the square Cut Nail - they are easier to drive and cheaper to make - but it was discovered shortly after their introduction that they did not possess as great holding power. This defect was overcome in 1882 by Ira Copeland, of Whitman, Mass., who conceived the idea of coating them with vegetable gum, the result being to give them even greater holding power than the cut Nails. Coated Nails are to-day much used where exceptional strength is required, as in packing-boxes and other styles of shipping packages.

The word Nail is applied specifically to those of moderate length and weight, with flat heads of considerable diameter. Very small Nails are known as Tacks. Those longer than six inches, or of exceptionally heavy shank, are called Spikes. Those with heads so small that they can be sunk beneath the surface of the wood in order to conceal the nailing, are classed as Brads - sub-divided into Flooring Brads, Finishing Nails and Casing Nails.

Arround Nails in The Grocer's Encyclopedia


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