Sign in to follow this  
Jamie Bacon

best steel for forging nails

Recommended Posts

Of course not knowing the size of nail header the size info above is iffy.  

 

I go the other way and make my nail headers to fit steel I can find cheap and easily: so I have them sized for election sign wire---free, 1/4" sq stock---I have a lot of short leftover pieces from the smithing class I teach at the U and finally my most recent header is for  re-heading RR spikes, (my pastor/student wanted some large spikes for Easter)

 

In general A36 will be cheaper and easier to find,  1018 will be easier to work and "softer" in use.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well I wouldn't suggest using high carbon or high alloy steels even if they were free---except for certain situations where you need heat treated nails...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just mild steel is fine in most cases.  I do use rebar or medium carbon steels on occasion, when I want a long, thin, but strong spike... like for spiking a door jamb to oak logs (best pre-drill for this as well).  Copper can be good for marine nails or decorative spikes.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Tip for nails...

 

When using nails on oak, it is best to have a dull point, like square, instead of a sharp point..  Oak doesn't part well and the blunt edge shears the wood fibers making nail entry easier.  Softer woods take a sharp pointed nail just fine.

 

Some old timer carpenters, when nailing up oak boards, would take a bunch of nails and hit the sharp points with their hammers, dulling the tip.  I've tried it and it works.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You can use a lot of your mild steel scrap bits for nails. Depends of course on the size of the header you have. I use mainly 10mm round bar, square tapered to a 75mm nail. I have used light rebar with no problems.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Tip for nails...

 

Some old timer carpenters, when nailing up oak boards, would take a bunch of nails and hit the sharp points with their hammers, dulling the tip.  I've tried it and it works.

 

 

I've seen Cabinetmakers do the same thing, ... to prevent splitting, in well seasoned hardwood.

 

 

.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks everyone. Lots of great tips on this site! The header is supposed to be here tomorrow, so I'll obviously know more when I can actually get my hands on it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Jamie, I would like to see a pic of your shop bought header. I made mine following the ideas Tubbe gave in his posting. Just wondered what a bought one looks like. Does it sit in the hardy hole or pritchel hole? Perhaps you had to order it to suit your anvil.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi ausfire. Not sure how to post a picture, but I will tell you about the nail header. First off, I obviously should've asked questions and got details before placing my bid. HaHa. This thing is massive. More a spike header than a nail header. The only measurements listed were 12 1/" long and 3 lbs. That should have been enough to tip me off, but I guess i was blinded by my want of an vintage nail header. Anyway, it's dog bone shaped, with a circular section on each end about 1/8" taller than the rest of the body of the tool. On one end, the top square hole is about 1/2" on top, 9/16" on bottom. On the other end, it's 9/16" on top and 5/8" on bottom. The ends where the square holes are punched are about 2" across and 3/4" thick. It's a nice header I suppose. Heavy duty for sure. More than I need though, so back on eBay it will go I suppose. Lesson learned.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You have fun doing this ....... I need to post some pics. I made three nail headers ... one from mild steel and two from 5160 leaf spring. I also made a couple of hot cuts that fit the pritchel hole for nicking the nail rod where it gets snapped off, and they were made from thick coil truck spring.  All three headers have been making great nails !!. The punch for the header was made from 4140 rod.  I have been making nails over the last 3 weekends. I have been using just mild 1/4 and 3/16 square stock cold rolled.

 

This weekend will be more of a historical adventure as I cut some real wrought iron into thick nail rods I can 'draw' to 1/4 and 3/16. I want to make nails from wrought like all the originals were and this weekend I get to compare wrought to mild steel. The nails will be forged over coal in a hand pumped bellows forge. The only way I can know and understand what the thousands and thousands of both men and women nailors did to make nails is to duplicate how they did it.

 

I'll post pics when I get a chance ......

 

Ohio Rusty ><>

The Ohio Frontier Forge

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

John King examined the wrought after I slit open and bent the iron to expose the fibers. He said it looked highly refined to him.  That made me feel better about what I had as my wrought knowledge is limited but growing year by year.

I just have to remember to keep the wrought at a high heat. Maybe that will break my habit of still working metal when it is at just a  red color .............

 

Carpenters would flatten the nail tip removing the sharp point as the flattened tip would go into the end grain of the wood without splitting the board.  This type of nail undertakers preferred for making and closing coffins .....

Ohio Rusty ><>

The Ohio Frontier Forge

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yup a crushing rather than a wedging action for the nail.

 

Tell John that Thomas Powers says Howdy and he should come out and visit sometime!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for posting the great info on what you used to make your different items Ohio Rusty. I also would like to make a hot cut hardie for scoring the nail rod. I'd love to see pictures of the tools youve made and of your upcoming nail making weekend. Sounds like lots of fun!!!

I haven't done a search yet to see if anyone has posted anything like this yet, but I would love to get info on what different automotive parts are good for what type things. I have a great scrap metal yard close by that has no problem with me walking the yard and browsing. I'd like to stumble across a post that says leaf springs are good for this, coil springs good for this, lawn mower blades good for this, such and such auto part is great for hot punches, etc. I'll have to do some searching and see if there's something like that out there.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

junkyard steel list.  Just remember that I haven't seen one yet that was 100% correct and *NOTHING* stops a manufacturer from changing what alloy they are using 3 times a day if they want to!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That nail header you bought sounds like a monster! More of a spike maker.
If you look up Tubbe's post in 'Tools' you will find his clear diagram of how to make a nail header and an excellent video of how he uses it. I made mine from an old bolt and it works just fine.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I took a few pics of my nail making stuff. The headers are for using 1/4 inch square or 3/16 square. The left side header has both nail sizes in one header, and I find myself using this header the most. It is made from 5160 leaf spring steel that I scavenged along the freeway. The middle header is the same spring steel and the header on the right is just carbon steel.

The two cutting hardy's shown are made from a coil truck spring almost an inch across (sitting on the anvil). Those hardy's fit the pritchel hole. Two different sizes of shaft so they will fit about any anvil or any swage block with a hole. Real handy when you are hammering at different places with different anvils.

Lastly the nails .... The one pic shows the nail being formed with the shoulder, then the nicking where the top of the nail would be. This is heated in the forge, the working nail stock stuck into the header hole, the nail snapped off then the head formed into a rosehead nail. Another picture of some of the nails I've been doing. I had some really nice looking ones but a couple were sold and some were given away. I really enjoy making these !!!   The nail making history I find fascinating......

Ohio Rusty ><>

The Ohio Frontier Forge

post-22393-0-64177200-1407592542_thumb.j

post-22393-0-07848000-1407592562_thumb.j

post-22393-0-89280300-1407592586_thumb.j

post-22393-0-62046800-1407592604_thumb.j

post-22393-0-71309600-1407592623_thumb.j

post-22393-0-10467600-1407592644_thumb.j

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This may have been answered elsewhere but I find no reference to it. Is there a way of making decorative nail heads? All mine are done in a nail header the usual way. I can facet them with light hammer blows, but perhaps a punch can be made (how??) that would impart a rose pattern or something. They would be good to use on rustic tables, boxes, chest hinges etc. I can visualise what is needed but it's difficult to see how such a thing could be made.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This may have been answered elsewhere but I find no reference to it. Is there a way of making decorative nail heads? All mine are done in a nail header the usual way. I can facet them with light hammer blows, but perhaps a punch can be made (how??) that would impart a rose pattern or something. They would be good to use on rustic tables, boxes, chest hinges etc. I can visualise what is needed but it's difficult to see how such a thing could be made.

 

Sure you can. You can chase the pattern inverted/mirror image, directly into the rivet set . Or you can chase the pattern into a rivet head and use it for a die to form your set. The set will need to be really hot to take the pattern from a soft iron rivet master pattern so it'll need annealing before hardening and tempering.

 

Of course the easy cheat appears if it just so happens a leather tooling pattern suits you. I don't know how long one would last used against hot steel but have no doubt it'll last long enough to make a master pattern so you can make sets.

 

Lastly you can use chasing tools to hand work rivet heads individually. Not too practical if you want matching rivet heads but it might be de-bomb if different hardware wants different rivet heads. Visualize bronze rivets on a jewelry box one pattern for rings, another for brooches, another for ear rings, necklaces, tongue studs, etc. etc.

 

Frosty The Lucky.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this