Yeah, I keep practicing nail making mostly at public demos as well. I can
do a one-heat nail (sometimes) but I can't get that consistency needed.
Lots more practice needed. I've probably only made about 50 nails total in
my life at this point.
The idea of keeping it part the shank parallel and not tapered is an
interesting point I had not heard.
And the idea of always putting it in the header the same way (relative to
the the two shoulders) was something I thought up as being useful, but
never really pay enough attention to to implement in practice yet. I also
thought it might be useful to score cross-hair like center lines on the top
of the nail header to help identify the center of the nail so it's easier
to know exactly which way you have to hammer the head to center it. Trying
to guess based on the shape of the nail header doesn't seem to be accurate
enough for me. Often I think I've got it centered only to find out once I
pop it out I was way off.
Also, the idea of nicking on only two sides to make a point to help give
the required material in the right side to make it center better is an
To do a one heat nail, I keep the cutoff hardy in the anvil as I work.
This makes many fellow smiths very nervous. They keep telling me to take
it out! I too get nervous watching other smiths work on an anvil with the
cut-off hardy in place so I can understand their concern. But when trying
to do one-heat nails, stopping to put in the hardy doesn't work for me. Do
you leave the cutoff tool in as you are making nails, or do you find you
can pull it in and out while working? Or do use some other approach like
using a sharp anvil edge for making nicks instead of a cutoff tool?
My understanding was that for nail production back in the day, they made
special nail-making stations that had a number of features to automate and
speed up the process - but I don't fully understand how that was done.
I usually put the cutoff hardy into my vise and leave it there when I am
making nails. I don't usually bring a post vise with me when I have to
take a whole blacksmith setup. Instead, I have a steel topped table that
supports a mid sized machinists type vise. The vise is at the corner
closest to the forge, so I only need to turn slightly from the anvil to
Good point! Go back to the webpage and look again.
I just added a couple of pix of an Austrian Nail Maker's setup.
Yeah, that sounds safer than working around the hardy on the anvil as long
as the vise is set up near enough to the anvil.
Not exactly sure what I'm seeing in that picture. Seems to be an odd high
and narrow anvil piece in the middle for drawing out the nail, with the
nail header located on the edge. Does the header move at all once it's
wedged in? It looks like it doesn't so I guess you stick the nail in from
the top and twist it off? Then when it cools, tap it out from the bottom?
One setup I heard described seemed to have a spring (or maybe a lever?)
that somehow made it easy to pop out the previous nail. So I think you
would notch and taper a nail, put it in the header and finish it. Then
start on the next nail, and when it was time to put it in the header, you
would tap the spring (or lever) which would pop out the (now cooled)
previous nail before inserting the next one. Or maybe the cutoff hardy was
someone associated with the lever so as you notch the nail head, it pops
out the previous nail from the header at the same time?
I've heard described a notched cutoff hardy that was dull on the top edge
but sharp in the notch. This eliminates the need to carefully notch the
head - you place it there and give it one good blow to notch it. You can't
hit it too hard because the notch limits how much of the head you can cut.
I've also heard described a stepped anvil surface for shouldering the nail.
Again, the step is just the right offset to help correctly establish the
shoulder depth so you don't need to be as careful and accurate with your
hammer blows as you would be when you shoulder on the edge of the anvil. I
would think another step to act as a depth gauge stop would be useful there
to make sure you were placing the shoulder in exactly the same place for
every nail as well.
Do you prefer to make nails from round or square stock? I've just always
used square because that's what I was first shown.
It looks like it doesn't so I guess you stick the nail in from
Yes, and Yes.
We used to head nails and bolts this way:
I usually use 1/4" square stock. I used to have to buy it in cold
rolled form because suppliers didn't
stock it hot rolled. Of course, cold rolled is twice as expensive.
So, to keep the cost down, I went to my favorite fab shop/local
stock supplier and asked them to shear 6 foot wide sheets of 1/4" A36 to
1/4" wide. That worked out real well. I did not care that there's a
little twist in the pieces, or that there was a "shear" edge. I do't
remember the cost, but I think they only charged me the going rate for
selling steel at the time, 50 cents per pound!
But, some years ago, one of our local professional blacksmiths bought
a ton or two of hot rolled (what he THOUGHT) was 1/4" square. He needed
it to go into one of those German twisting/embossing machines to make
baskets. Unfortunately for him, it was 6mm, not 1/4". The dies he had
for making 1/2" square basket sets wouldn't handle the 10 thou undersize
stock. To make a long story even longer, he decided to sell the stock
for $2.00 per twelve foot piece, and guess who now has a lifetime supply.
If I even needed any 1/4" square again, I'd go for the sheared stock.
At one point, I proudly told a club member who has done significant
research on early American blacksmithing, as he said "that's the way
they did it back in the early 1800's or so"! "The old is forever new",
I have seen others use round stock. I think you'd save a couple of
blows per nail in a production environment, but other than that, I
don't see a real reason not to use it. I just don't do it that way,
either. I always have the square stock around for other things,
anyway. And, I once heard that one of the blacksmith apprentice's jobs
was to make "nail rod" from whatever scrap there was out back, so it
would be faster to make it to square and not have to waste heat and
labor to round it up.
I'm sorry Charles. We had 2 Australian visitors today, and 22 for the
month, so I don't know what to suggest. You might try just going to
www.spaco.org , clicking the blacksmithing link, then the Nail Making
link at the lower right.
Were you able to see the German link to the modern nail headers?
I can see the German site (I have no idea why I included it in my post???).
You site even the index page, I just can't get through. I eve put your
address in my host file... still no good :-(
I did a tracert and it craps out at step 11
Do you have the naem of the guy in Australia making nails?
Maybe you could find out more by going to these guys (you probably know
about them, anyway):
AUSTRALIAN BLACKSMITHS ASSOCIATION (VICTORIA)
Pres: Stephen Nicoll
PO Box 408
Heidelberg, Victoria 3084, Australia
Ed: Paul Mills
PO Box 542
Hurstbridge, Victoria 3099
BLACKSMITHS ASSOCIATION of WESTERN AUSTRALIA
President / Editor: Brian Keenan
12 Padstow St.
Karrinyup, Western Australia, 6018
(08) 9447 9135
Public Relations: Jo Mazzarol
38 Imperial Circuit
Madeley, Western Australia, 6065
ph / fax: (08) 9302 6445
Last month's visitors were from:
Sydney, Perth, Nerang,Melbourne and Adelaide
Doesnt appear to be your end Charles as I get the same result from
Adelaide Bigpond - crosses the Pacific around jump 10 but dies at jump
17 at a provider which appears to be Airstream-Communications.
I'm also Ok to the German link though.
root@Home-desktop:/home/mike# traceroute www.spaco.org
traceroute to www.spaco.org (18.104.22.168), 30 hops max, 60 byte packets
(22.214.171.124) 19.022 ms 13.184 ms 13.424 ms
7 Pos0-4-1-0.win-core1.Melbourne.telstra.net (126.96.36.199)
31.779 ms 31.991 ms 32.206 ms
8 Bundle-Pos1.ken-core4.Sydney.telstra.net (188.8.131.52)
49.915 ms 50.127 ms 50.316 ms
9 Bundle-Ether1.pad-gw2.Sydney.telstra.net (184.108.40.206)
49.103 ms 49.315 ms 49.525 ms
10 220.127.116.11 (18.104.22.168) 48.169 ms 48.525 ms 48.737 ms
11 i-14-0-0.wil-core02.bx.reach.com (22.214.171.124) 230.680
ms 230.941 ms 231.094 ms
12 i-1-1.tlot03.bi.reach.com (126.96.36.199) 203.264 ms
187.868 ms 188.073 ms
13 * **
14 10gigabitethernet2-1.core1.lax1.he.net (188.8.131.52) 198.624 ms
10gigabitethernet1-2.core1.dal1.he.net (184.108.40.206) 222.755 ms 223.062 ms
15 10gigabitethernet1-2.core1.dal1.he.net (220.127.116.11) 222.583 ms
213.785 ms 10gigabitethernet1-4.core1.chi1.he.net (18.104.22.168) 279.548 ms
(22.214.171.124) 292.915 ms 10gigabitethernet1-4.core1.chi1.he.net
(126.96.36.199) 276.035 ms 276.251 ms
(188.8.131.52) 282.082 ms 282.328 ms
air-camp-sw-cisc-1-2.airstreamcomm.net (184.108.40.206) 282.783 ms
18 * air-camp-sw-cisc-1-2.airstreamcomm.net (220.127.116.11) 282.452 ms *
19 ** *
For the other Ozzies.
It seems that Airstream own a server between Australia and Pete's site.
After a little investigation it appears that Airstream have blocked all
traffic coming from ".au", due to a lot of spam coming out of the country.
I suspect that the spam is actually faked email addresses, as sending
unsolicited spam is an offense in Australia. A smart host would collect
names and forward them to the senders ISP, or to the relevant Australian
I guess I'm a little grumpy.
Options for Pete if the problem is not resolved :-
* Move to another hosting provider.
* Mirror www.spaco.org on an Australian server.
* Have no further Australian audience.
Hopefully Airstream will grow a brain, and the problem will be sorted out.
Seriously cutting off a whole country is ludicrous, and is bad business,
for internet users, customers, and for Airstream itself.
P.S. I need a nice relaxing tea.
The traceroute dies at Airstream for me as well. But that's Pete's web
server provider which probably just means they have a firewall blocking the
traceroute packets. I can access the web site with no problem even though
the traceroute stops there.
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