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Wire nails will be found in a building put up in the period from then to date.For the restorer, it is vital that the correct raw materials are used in any attempt to preserve an old building. The restorer is looking to use similar nails to ensure the authenticity of the restored building.(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.Then the nail maker would insert the hot nail into a hole in a nail header or anvil and with four glancing blows of the hammer would form the rosehead (a shallow pyramid shape).
The nails are generally used for doors, floors, gates, indeed anywhere a period nail has to be displayed.
Thinner timbers were being used in construction and other forms of fastening were becoming available if a strong fixing was needed.
In the 21st century, the nail making process through the ages is now being used by the restoration industry to help to establish when a building was built.
One such company is Glasgow Steel Nail Co which can trace its business roots back to 1870.
In addition to working with these old machines, the process also involves preserving the blacksmith's skills to form cutting and heading tools.