Nail chronology aid dating old buildings
Nails themselves were sufficiently valuable and standardized to be used as an informal medium of exchange.
Until around 1800 artisans known as nailers or nailors made nails by hand – note the surname Naylor.
Today almost all nails are manufactured from wire, but the term "wire nail" has come to refer to smaller nails, often available in a wider, more precise range of gauges than is typical for larger common and finish nails.
Nails were formerly made of bronze or wrought iron and were crafted by blacksmiths and nailors.
The Birmingham industry expanded in the following decades, and reached its greatest extent in the 1860s, after which it declined due to competition from wire nails, but continued until the outbreak of World War I. Usually coils of wire are drawn through a series of dies to reach a specific diameter, then cut into short rods that are then formed into nails.
The nail tip is usually cut by a blade; the head is formed by reshaping the other end of the rod under high pressure. Wire nails were also known as "French nails" for their country of origin.
(Workmen called slitters cut up iron bars to a suitable size for nailers to work on.
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The production of wrought-iron nails continued well into the 19th century, but ultimately was reduced to nails for purposes for which the softer cut nails were unsuitable, including horseshoe nails.
The slitting mill, introduced to England in 1590, simplified the production of nail rods, but the real first efforts to mechanise the nail-making process itself occurred between 17, initially in the United States and England, when various machines were invented to automate and speed up the process of making nails from bars of wrought iron.
In 1913, 90% of manufactured nails were wire nails.
Nails went from being rare and precious to being a cheap mass-produced commodity.