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I Forge Iron

hole size in nail header

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I searched "nail making" and read a lot of threads but I did not find the answer to my question. I punched and drifted a sq. hole in my header . I started at the bottom and drove the plug from the top. I am going to use 1/4 stock, do I make the hole in the top a shade under 1/4 so the stock does not go thru when I head the nail. I saw a diagram which shows the hole should have an hourglass shape. Wont that cause the nail to jam which is the problem I am having. I need to file the edges of the hole but wonder about how close the hole size needs to be to the stock size. Sorry for raising a question on a topic so well covered. The nail maker in the video I attached in the "look into
the past" thread has me inspired.

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I make the nail size I need first, them use that to make the nail header that will produce that size nail.

The nail hole in the header is a hourglass shape so that the top 1/3 or so acts as a funnel (counter sink) to hold the nail near the top while the head is being formed. The bottom 2/3 or so of the hole is open so as not to touch the nail and cause it to stick in the header. In use, cool the header in water between nails.

If you are having problems with the nails sticking in the header, look closely at a finished nail and see where any grooves are being formed on the nail. File any rough spots and round any sharp edges. Your funnel (counter sink) on the top of the hour glass may not be angled open enough.

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I have seen two different style headers, one flat, one domed.

If you are making the domed header, after making the hourglass shape, you can dome it just a bit more and open the top funnel. This also closes the bottom funnel, so you may have to open it back up a bit so the nail does not touch the sides and stick.

Another method I have used is to dome the header using a ball peen hammer. Then use a round nose punch to thin out the area where the hole will be placed. Next drive the taper forming the hole from the top. Next adjust as needed and clean up any rough spots. This will leave a funnel going into a dome with little or no bottom funnel (hour glass).

Play with the design(s) and use what works for you. Dip the header in water between nails to keep it cool.

The top funnel shape jams the taper so you can form the head of the nail. It does not have to be an excessive angle or depth depending on the relationship of the nail size and stock size. The nail head will require about 1-1/2 times the diameter of the stock to form the head. Adjust as needed.

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I see that Glenn uses a slightly different technique than I do... which leads to slightly different header design. Glenn is using the header to trap a taper on the nail stock, whereas I shoulder the stock on two sides so that my header works better with the narrowest spot very near the top. I use the shoulders to stop and hold the nail stock where I will form the head. I am just posting this to clarify so that people don't get confused by the slight differences in our preferred header architecture. I will have to try Glenn's system now and see how I like it.

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