Some facts about nails (fasteners)

  • A nail is a stick of stout metal which is broadened into a head at one end and tapered at the other. 
  • Nails are usually driven into the workpiece by a hammer, a pneumatic nail gun, or a small explosive charge or primer. 
  • Before 1786 all nails were made by hand. In 1786 a nail-making machine was invented.
  • Wire is fed into modern machines. It is cut into pieces of the right length for the nails to be made. The pieces are heated. When hot, the head end of each piece is struck a hard blow to flatten it. The other end is tapered. The nails are then polished. They roll out of the machines into kegs.
  • Handmade nails were made mostly of wrought iron. Machine-made nails are made mostly of steel, but there are iron, copper, brass, and aluminum nails, too.
  • There are nails of many different shapes and sizes. Some are tiny and have very small heads. Others are several inches long. For every use of nails there is one kind of nail that is best.
  • The most common is a wire nail. Other types of nails include pins, tacks, brads, and spikes.
  • The word "penny" is used in telling the size of some nails. A 3-penny nail is 1¼ inches long. A 4-penny nail is 1½ inches long. A 60-penny nail is six inches long.
  • All nails longer than that are called spikes. Tacks and brads are less than an inch.
  • Nails are usually sold by weight. The smaller ones are more expensive per pound than the big ones. It is easy to see why. There are more to the pound if the nails are small, and it is as much work to make a one-inch nail as a six-inch one.