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How It’s Made? – Nails

How It’s Made? – Nails
By Bill Dickson January 29, 2016 6467 Views

If a hammer is one of the main tools humanity has used to construct its greatest wonders, this fastener has been by its side. This object is used to keep materials together as well as make an object more durable when joined. Whether you’re a construction worker, machinist or just some person fixing something at home, you’ve probably used a nail once or twice to get the job done. This week in How It’s Made?, the web staff at Tool Parts Direct looks how nails are created and prepped for consumer use.

What exactly are nails and where did they originate?

Photo Courtesy of Full Chisel

While there is very little about the nail’s origin, it’s believed nails go back to the dawn of civilization. There is evidence that the Egyptians used bronze nails and the Bible made numerous references to using nails in a variety of ways. At first, copper was used to create nails. Forgers eventually switched to iron in medieval times for added strength and better durability.

Also during medieval times, England became the largest manufacturer of nails in the world. Eventually, the United States would overtake England and produced more nails than any other country after the American Civil War. The US is still the leading manufacturer of nails today and all sorts of shapes and sizes are available for any kind of job.

Materials and Design

Graphic Courtesy of Encyclopedia Britannica

Most nails today are made from a variety of materials. The most common material is steel. Others include aluminum, copper, zinc and iron. Most nails have a broad, flat, circular head. However, finishing nails have a narrow, tapered head that allows them to be driven into the surface and covered to produce a smooth finish. Upholstery nails have decorative heads while double-headed nail used to fasten wood materials used in concrete pouring.

A nail actually has two heads. When a nail gets hammered down, the nail is driven to the first head…allowing the second head to stick out from the surface. The protruding head allows nails to be removed if needed. The shank itself is smooth and round. Some have different groves, spiral flutes or other enhancements to help with grip.

A most common nail point is the four-sided tapered cut which is called a diamond point. Other can have a blunter point to prevent certain woods from splitting apart. Common nails most people use include special nails for tile roofing, flooring, shingles, sheet metal and concrete.

The Manufacturing Process

Today, most nails are made from coils of metal wire. The wire is fed into a nail-making machine where they can be twisted, formed, cleaned finished and packaged. First, the wire is drawn from a coil and then fed into the nail-making machine where it is held in place by two gripper dies. While the dies clamp the wire down, the free end of the wire is hit with a mechanical hammer. This changes the form of the wire into the die cavity form the nail’s head.

Photo Courtesy of Made How

With the wire still clamped in the dies, shaped cutters strike the opposite end of the nail and form a point. This cuts the nail from the rest of the wire off of the coil. The dies open and the machine spits out the nails into a pan. The free end of the wire is fed into the main and the process begins anew. For other nails that have helical twists, serrations or other configurations are also fed into the machines that can roll, twist or stamp the wire.

Photo Courtesy of Made How

Next, comes the finishing process. The nails are cleaned in a rotating barrel filled with caustic liquid. The removes any oil from the forming machine and also cleans up any small metal scraps that could be clinging to the nails. Nail are then given a final bright finish before there ready for packaging. Nails are passed through an open flame and others are put into a rotating drum of hot sawdust to lightly polish the nail’s surface.

Once the nails are packaged, magnetic conveyers take the finished nails to a weighing machine and drop them in boxes. As they go in, a magnetic field aligns them so the nails stack neatly in the box. After they’re packed, the nails are demagnetized.

Standards and the Future

Raw materials have to meet certain standards in order to be sold on the open market. Nails must pass regulations regarding chemical composition, yield strength, hardness, corrosion resistance and other properties. Nails also have meet certain dimensions and properties as well.

Demand continues to grow for more nails all across the world. Housing booms and other construction projects are sure to call for nails in the future. Demand for mass-produced nails rely on several factors including competition, fluctuation in the housing market and need for materials. As long as people continue to build homes and construct buildings, nails will be there to hold materials together and help you get your job done.

Nov 5, 2015 9:06:47 PM

References:

http://www.madehow.com/Volume-2/Nail.html

http://www.glasgowsteelnail.com/nailmaking.htm

https://www.uvm.edu/~histpres/203/nails.html

http://www.fourshee.com/history_of_nails.htm

http://home.howstuffworks.com/nails.htm