Nails come in an amazing variety of size and application range. They range in size from tiny panel pins needing gentle tapping with a small hammer to enormous ones used to affix railway lines to sleepers, which are driven home with sledge hammers. They are used extensively in industry, agriculture, construction, manufacturing, and home use. The common variety is found everywhere from supermarkets to hardware stores and are mostly made of mild steel wire, flattened on the one end and sharpened at the other – you know those objects that cause blue swollen thumbs and foul language? It is however the non-common variety that is so interesting. They can be made of hardened steel, brass or copper and may have decorative heads and grooved or ringed shanks and they are used from furniture upholstery to roof trussing to fixing horse shoes. Some are even – maybe inadvertently – used to flatten car tires or fixing iron rims to wooden wheels. Yes, they are common and sometimes even lowly, but they are also exalted.
They also have some amazing names. Consider: Cut clasp, slate, upholstery, clout, ring shank and bright ones among others. They can be driven home by a hammer or a pneumatic tool. Brad nails are more often than not applied with such a tool. The nails are clued together in a string and inserted into the pneumatic tool. The nails are then shot into board or other material using the tool. The heads of brad nails are designed to slightly counter sink and the ensuing hole is later filled with wood putty to conceal the nail. Specialist hardened steel nails used to penetrate concrete is often shot into a wall or roof using a special gun that fires nails rather than bullets. The gun fires blank.22 cartridges which propels the nail into the wall.
Clout nails are long, thin ones with a flat large head and are used to fix ceilings to the roof or thin metal to wood. The large head avoids the nail to pull through the material and act as a fastener. Upholstery nails are used for decorative purposes, particularly in the use of leather as a means of upholstery. These nail have large rounded heads which are either copper or brass plated. They are used close to one another so as to create a special luxurious and rustic effect. Clavos nails on the other hand are crafted from iron, are decorative and used mainly as a decorative fixture to rustic doors – think Henry the 8th and the doors to his castle.
Roofing nails used to fix corrugated iron to wooden trusses are long shank ones with a large head and fluted shaft, designed to have a lead washer attached. The fluted shaft prevents the nail from loosening in the wind and the washer acts as water proofing. The ones used for fixing asphalt tiles or shingles are also specially designed for the purpose, both with large flat heads. Drywall installation requires special skills and tools. Nails designed for dry walling have rings along the shaft that prevents the nail from pulling out of a dry wall. The heads of such nails are also indented. Picture nails or masonry nails are made of hardened steel and designed to penetrate brick and concrete. These nails are not intended to support heavy weights but pictures etc.
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