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Hand made nails suggest the building was built before 1800.
Cut nails suggest the building was built between 1800 and the early 1900's.
The process is as much part of our heritage as the products produced and it will be necessary for those involved in the restoration industry to change the mindset of trying to compare cut nail and wire nail prices, if the process is to survive.
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.
(this page contains the substance of an article entitled 'Traditional Cut Nails - worth preserving?
' written in May 2002 at the request of, and for inclusion in, the RICS Building Conservation Journal)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. After re-heating the rod in a forge, the blacksmith would cut off a nail length and hammer all four sides of the softened end to form a point.
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.
However, almost a century after their predicted demise, there are still two cut nail manufacturers worldwide in existence employing the process that is almost 200 years old and using machines that have barely changed in design in that time.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.A recognition of the value cut nails offer is needed to ensure that the process is not lost for ever and encourage the handing on of the skills involved.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.