NAILS. Slender pieces of metal, tapering to ward and sometimes pointed at one end, and with flattened or rounded heads. Nails are made of many different materials, as copper, zinc, brass, iron, or steel, but the bulk of the nails in ordinary use are made of steel wire. Iron nails, in turn, may be either wrought, cut, or east, or made from wire.
I'ntil almost the close of the eighteenth century all nails were hand-made. In France for nearly a century light nails for carpenter work have been made of wire, but until 1850 they were made by hand with a hammer. The hand-mado nail was pinched in a vise, with a portion projecting. A few blows of a hammer flattened one end into a head. The head was beaten into a counter sunk in the vise, thus regulating its size and shape. In Northern Europe. Britain, and America nails were made, at first, by forging on an anvil. The iron used for hand nail-mak ing was first formed into nail-rods, which were sold in bundles. The nail-rods were prepared either by rolling the malleable iron into small bars of the required thickness or by the much more common practice of (-titling plate iron into strips by means of rolling-shears. In colonial days the making of nails from these rods was a household industry among the New England farmers.
To America belongs the distinction of having first made cut nails by machinery, and with the advent of machine-cut nails the household in dustry of nail making rapidly declined. Of these early inventions. the only one that has survived is that patented in 1786 by Ezekiel Reed. of Bridgewater. Mass. At the close of the eighteenth century twenty-three patents for nail machines, or improvements thereto, had been granted in the United Status, and their use had been gen erally introdneed into England. where they were received with enthusiasm. In l883 cut nails were first made of steel.
The manufacture of tacks was also a house hold industry in New England till well into the nineteenth century. The wire was pointed on a small anvil; it was then placed in a vise, worked by the foot, which clutched it between jaws furnished with a gauge to regulate the length. A certain portion was left projecting.
which was beaten by a hammer into a flat head. New England, and particularly the city of Taun ton, Mass., is now the centre of the tack-making industry in the United States.
Wire nails were first made in the United States by William Hersel, of New York. in 1851 or 1852. In 1875 Father Goebel, a Catholic priest. came to Covington, Ky., from Germany, where the art of making wire nails was practiced. Goebel began the manufacture of wire nails at Covington. and in 1876 the American Wire and Screw Nail Company was established under his leadership. At first the nails were made by hand, but soon a French machine was imported. In this machine the nails were held in dies to form the head. The blow of the which produced the head was caused by a board or single leaf spring suspended from a ceiling, against %Odell the machine, in rotating, pushed a cam. The release of the latter produced the blow.
For a time the wire nails were made will' barbs. that they might hold more securely, and the new industry grew but slowly. In 1876. at the Centennial Exhibition, the company received a silver medal over French and German com petitors. This called the attention of the trade to the article, and two other firms at once took up its manufacture. By 1885 there were twenty six: firms in the business, and the wire nail had been adopted by many manufacturers. Since then their use has rapidly increased.
Two types of wire-nail machines are described in Smith's Treatise Wire. (See Bibliography at end of article.) In one type wire is automatically straightened from the coil and fed into the machine, where dies grip it, while a pair of nippers cuts the wire off in suitable lengths, it is automatically pointed and headed. The latter operation is effected by means of the spring-holt operated by a cant id' the main shaft and remaining inoperative until a suflieient length of wire has been fed to the machine for the next nail. The cutting and pointing arc performed in one operation." In the second type, the heads are formed by steady pressure instead of intermittent striking.