Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Cut Nail Sample Boards

Based on the comments (here, on other blogs, and on social networking sites) that followed Adam Cherubini's presentation on nailed furniture, it sounds like many of us are interested in working with period fasteners.

If you're looking for cut nails but are confused by all the varieties, Tremont Nail Company offers two sample boards* (one is card stock and the other is wood) which can be hung on the wall in your shop.

Each board comes with an actual sample of each the 20 different kinds of cut nails that the company sells. So you'll be able to decide exactly what you need for your projects.


 *I do not benefit in any way from the sale of these sample boards. I ordered one today and thought you guys might be interested. 


Badger Woodworks said...

I picked up some nails from them recently, and they are first rate reproductions. I posted some thoughts on nails on my blog recently in response to the sudden interest inspired by Adam's panel (Boy, do I wishI could have made it to WIA!)

I hadn't thought of the nail sample board for the shop though, so thanks for the reminder. It would go well on the wall with the Roubo print, and the Studley print as inspiration.


Stephen Shepherd said...

Great manufactory and quality products. I have ordered their nails in larger quantities, they ship them in nice, but crude wooden barrels, at least they use to.

Their fine cut headless brads, available in two lengths have a nice blued finish are period correct and I have used pounds and pounds of them.

And cut nails are another item to be timed or clocked. The Wedge must go with the grain, otherwise it splits the wood.

Use a brad awl to make a hole for the nails. The awl doesn't remove wood, so it swells back and holds the nail even tighter.

Cut nails hold 77% better than the modern French wire nails.


Marilyn in Seattle said...

Wow! So cool!

Matt Sinclair said...

I have been ordering they nail for years and they are nice. I also semi make my own by taking masonry nails or wire nails(8d common) heat up the heads with a torch, drop them in a hole and peen the heads to look more "period". the 8d commons do bend more when hammering them in to place. the cut nails I semi make are great but you can't clinch them unless you anneal them. but for the money you are better off buying them.

John Cashman said...

I'm interested in hearing more comments like Stephen's, in regards to which nails to use for particular situations. What would you use for moldings, or trim? How about shiplapped carcase backs? I'm afraid I've learned how to use modern nails, but not the variety and lengths of these period fasteners.

Nick said...

Followed your link, and lo and behold...they're less than 2 minutes from my house...never knew they were there. I guess I have homework!

Robin Wood said...

fantastic. I love the internet, where else could folk who are into nice nails get together? They look lovely sample boards Kari I would happily hang one on my wall

For folk in the UK this is the best source of cut nails

I used to get lovely copper boat nails from J Reynolds in Birmingham, you phoned up and they would make up a 10 kilo batch for you of whatever size you wanted but their website seems to have gone I hope they are still in business

Stephen Shepherd said...

The fine cut headless brads are great for small mouldings and trim work. I like the box nails for making boxes and holding on back boards, they have a larger head. The small one inch brad has a big rounded head that is great for hanging stuff on the wall and also where a more decorative head is used. Fine finish nails are narrow and have a small head. A pilot hole made with a brad awl is necessary for all cut nails and it is important to line the wedge up with the grain. The penny numbering system is the same for all nails.

A.J. Hamler said...

I'll chime in as another satisfied (and frequent) customer of Tremont Nail Co. And I'll echo what Stephen said about those headless brads; they're great for a lot of purposes.

Not sure if any here are aware of it, but some of the machines Tremont uses are originals from the late 19th century that Acorn Mfg. bought from previous owners. Food for thought: Should we really consider nails produced on those machines to be reproductions?

Anonymous said...


Great blog post! Topical and poignant, clear and succinct.

You really nailed it!

John Cashman said...

Thanks for the benefit of your experience, Stephen.

Megan Fitzpatrick said...

I should have posted this on your earlier post about Adam's talk ... But regarding nailed furniture: PopWood has been promoting it for years in the "I Can Do That" column -- if only I'd been as clever as Adam in marketing it as such!

Kari Hultman said...

Badger, I can't wait to see the book on Studley's tool chest that Lost Art Press is coming out with. *drool*

Stephen, thanks for the tips. For those who would like to read more about cut nails and how to use them, go to Stephen's blog and click on Alburnams Archive on the left column. Then scroll down and click on Nails.

Marilyn, they had one of the sample boards at Hearne Hardwoods when I was there for the LN hand tool event. It's pretty nifty.

Matt, thanks for the tips on altering modern nails. I had heard that people did that but wasn't sure how.

John, thanks for asking Stephen the questions!

Nick, you're a lucky dude. That would be a cool place to visit to see the machinery.

Robin, thank you for posting the link for folks across the pond. :o)

A.J. that's very cool that they're using original machinery and that's a really cool, mind-blowing, thought-provoking question. What's your take on that?

Ethan---> bwahahaha!!

Megan, you should have been wearing period attire. ; )

Mama C said...

Tremont makes the best nails. Because they are made in the USofA the old way.
Always use these nails. Would never use wire nails again if I can help it.

Adam Cherubini said...

The wrought rose head nails from Tremont have three facets on the heads where almost all 18th c nails have 4. I know guys who rework Tremont nails into the 4 facet config (I may have it backwards, which tells you how little I care about this issue). My tae is that they are close enough.

Standard small headed nails aren't really available from Tremont. The 1" headed brad is an amazingly useful nail and one of my "must haves". But as Stephen points out, it has a domed head which makes it all but impossible to use for many of the applications 18th c cabinetmakers used nails.

My nailed together drawer I brought to WIA used these nails and I often nail drawer bottoms on with them. But their rounded heads are a problem. I file off their heads as a matter of course. Only takes a few seconds. But a metal vise is helpful. I have 2 old post vises in my shop which are great. I've also used a hand vise chucked in my ww bench vise.

18th c small headed nails are typically quite thin and have thin irregularly shaped heads. Upholstery tacks may be closer than Tremonts offerings, but I've yet to find a 1" tack. I have 5/8" tacks, which are helpful but their heads get a little large. Guys in the museums maker their own heads for nails they need.

Shannon said...

Kari, I got my cardstock version of the sample yesterday. I like the look and think it will be a cool thing to hang on my shop wall. I have been looking for the right small piece to frame with this moulding I stuck in Mahogany 4 or 5 months ago and this looks about right. One thing to note is the cardstock version comes folded up so there are several creases to deal with for those looking to display it.