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Nevertheless, the reduced cost factor made wire nails the standard very quickly. A reasonable date for furniture originally constructed with round wire nails is after 1880.
Here are examples of the modern straight-sided manufactured wire nail: The simple nail serves as a key to furniture dating.
This new technology was also employed by Jefferson, and the new cut nails had rectangular heads attached by another machine, one nail at a time.
This greatly accelerated the manufacture of nails, and these rectangular nails quickly became dominant by the early 1800's.
Carpenters still speak of nail sizes by the penny, abbreviated d for the Latin word for penny, denarius.In the 1900's, the round wire nail with straight sides and a round head are the standard.Nails are one of many clues to the age and authenticity of antique furniture and building construction as well.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.About 1880 in America and in Europe, the modern wire nail was developed.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. Because their sides were straight rather than tapered, they have only a fraction of the holding power of cut nails with tapered sides.For thousands of years, the traditional hand-forged nail was square and tapered, with a hammered head attached by the blacksmith.One nail at a time was heated and laboriously pounded out to shape with a hammer on an anvil.These cut nails are often called square, but they are really markedly rectangular, as are their heads, and easy to distinguish from the truly square and entirely handmade earlier variety.Very tiny nails, used especially for trim and moldings, were made with a single cut, resulting in an L-shaped nail.