Copyright 2002 - 2007 IFORGEIRON, All rights reserved.
by Glenn Conner
Video by Kevin Conner
Post production by Chris Conner
Nail headers come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. This one is for use with 1/4" stock.
Tapered from the bottom makes the top of the hole smaller and usually peels some sharp edges up under the head, tapered from the top helps to keep the stock from slipping thru by wedging it in place and makes the cooled nail easier to release from the header.
Take a piece of 1/4" round stock and form a square taper the length of the nail that is needed.. Using half blows while turning quarter turns working on two sides over the sharp edge of the anvil also makes a shoulder to start the head and keep it from squeezing down thru the header.
If the sharp point of the nail splits when pointing it. A few blows with the hammer, aimed at an angle on the off edge of the anvil will make a short sharp point and will stop the splitting when drawing the rest of the nail body out.
While still at a black heat, make sure the nail body is straight then use a cut off hardy and ring the stock above the taper leaving enough material to form the nail head. Cut almost but not all the way through (I try to leave maybe 1/8" diameter remaining) and take another heat . Usually I leave 1/2 - 1/3" of stock to form the head. (Note - when cutting or ringing the stock without enough heat remaining in the metal, the nail may just pop off if you are not careful.)
The metal was let cool to show the taper and the ring that will release the nail when twisted.
You want a good bit of heat in the metal to release the nail from the parent stock. Insert the tapered stock into the header and twist, the nail will twist off from the parent stock. (Note - Make sure you don't lay the hot piece you twisted off where you or an onlooker can grab the hot end.)
The stock should be rather perpendicular to the header before your first hammer blow.
Flatten the stock and form the nail head. I was taught there was no need to make a nail with a plain head, be creative and use the last 5 hammer blows at N, S, E, W, and once on the top, for a 5 flat nail head. I quench the nail in water at this point to both harden it a bit and to shrink it so it falls out of the header.
Your finished nail.
Click here to see the video of the process, About 2 megs in size and 1 minute run time.
Take a modern round large nail and look at the point very close, you will notice that two of the corners stick out and are sharp and the other two aren't , the sharp edges are to cut across the grain, also notice the serrations under the head, they are in relation to the point, so you can feel the nail is in the right position without looking at the point. All nails have this orientation. (Note - Cutting across the wood fibers helps prevent splitting of the wood.)