When it comes to using metal fasteners in natural wood, you can either use nails or screws. The problem with screws is that they're too strong; as the wood swells or shrinks with changes in humidity, with one piece attempting to move across the surface of another, the wood can crack.
Nails have better flexibility and can bend as the wood moves. Problem solved, right? Not always: Modern-day nails, which are made from cut wire and have chisel points, can split the wood as you drive them in.
One solution is to blunt the tips of your nails. This way the nail is essentially wedging itself between the fibers of the wood, rather than cutting the fibers and introducing a split.
However, the perfectly cylindrical shape of a wire nail doesn't provide great purchase. But traditional wedge-shaped nails, which are forged or cut, will hold virtually forever.
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That's why forged or cut nails have recently become all the rage among woodworkers. They're functional, traditional and have a quaint aesthetic.
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Recently there's been a bit of excitement in the community as Maine-based Lie-Nielsen Toolworks has announced they're going to start carrying forged nails from Rivierre, a French company that has been manufacturing nails since 1888—and still operates out of their original 19th-Century factory!
As Lost Art Press reports, company director Luc Kemp "is running the factory as it was in 1888 as much as possible." Check out their antique-but-functional production machinery, some of which have names:
©-Thierry-Ewangelista ©-Clouterie-Rivierre ©-Thierry-Ewangelista We're guessing this is row "H." ©-Thierry-Ewangelista
The factory was recently visited by Lie-Nielsen instructor Deneb Puchalski, who reported something I found rather interesting:
"It was incredible to walk through the building. All the machines are where they were in the 1890s and everything is completely covered in (vegetable) oil," Deneb says.
Why vegetable oil? Because Rivierre—which is France's last nail manufacturer, by the way—got their start by making nails for cobblers and upholsterers before expanding into nails for carpentry. Turns out the chosen work habits of their original target market have influenced how the company lubricates their machines:
Deneb says Rivierre uses [vegetable oil] because their upholstery and cobbler customers hold the nails in the mouth while working. So it's for safety.
I get the feeling that vaping American Millennial cobblers would prefer the machines were lubricated with strawberry-, butterscotch- or cotton-candy-flavored oils.
Via Lost Art Press