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The process is as much part of our heritage as the products produced and it will be necessary for those involved in the restoration industry to change the mindset of trying to compare cut nail and wire nail prices, if the process is to survive.One way of changing the mindset is to think in terms of the price per nail in comparison with other old artifacts being used and indeed what can be purchased today.The cut nail was produced in large numbers and various other shapes were devised to suit different purposes.

It was not until around 1600 that the first machine for making nails appeared, but that tended really to automate much of the blacksmith's job.

The 'Oliver' - a kind of work-bench, equipped with a pair of treadle operated hammers - provided a mechanism for beating the metal into various shapes but the nails were still made one at a time.

The result is that these cut nails are often mistaken for handmade nails.

In use, the rosehead is often the only part of the nail that is left visible and this shape of head is now considered vital when a period nail is demanded.

As explained earlier, the first cut nail machines replicated the handmade nail - the square tapered nail with a rosehead.

Because the process still involves a man (or woman) presenting a strip of metal to a machine, the resulting nail is necessarily imprecise - that is each nail can look a little different to the next one.

The nails are normally made of mild steel and are often used without any further finish and can be clinched (i.e. A recent expensive project involved nails for studding on large outside doors which would be deliberately left to rust to provide greater authenticity. Glasgow Steel Nail Co has been involved in many interesting projects that have included providing nails for the Globe Theatre in London, restoration work on Stirling Castle and other castles.

The nails are generally used for doors, floors, gates, indeed anywhere a period nail has to be displayed.

While it is possible to get a blacksmith today to produce a handmade nail from wrought iron, the cost can be prohibitive and the blacksmith is not keen to devote his limited time to making such small products.

However, almost a century after their predicted demise, there are still two cut nail manufacturers worldwide in existence employing the process that is almost 200 years old and using machines that have barely changed in design in that time.

Then the nail maker would insert the hot nail into a hole in a nail header or anvil and with four glancing blows of the hammer would form the rosehead (a shallow pyramid shape).

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