‘Forged’ Forged Nails Available

A blacksmith nails from Black Bear Forge (foreground) and one of the machine-made nails.

A blacksmith nails from Black Bear Forge (foreground) and one of the machine-made nails.

This post is bound to anger some and delight others. Oh well. I just work here.

While in England earlier this month, a student came in with a curious bag of nails that his parents had bought him as a gift. They looked like blacksmith-made Roman-style nails. But they were all perfectly alike. And too smooth. Close examination revealed they were machine-made.

We experimented with them vs. cut nails and were impressed. Though these “forgeries” had smooth shanks, they held quite well. And once the nail was in, you had to be about 6” away to tell it wasn’t a genuine blacksmith nail.

The diamond-pattern head of a blacksmith nail (right) and a machine-made one.

The diamond-pattern head of a blacksmith nail (right) and a machine-made one.

Where did these nails come from? Well the student’s parents had purchased them in a shop in Oxford called Objects of Use. The nice clerks there are happy to ship to Americans for a price. I bought a bag of each of the three sizes and they were shipped out the same day. However, if you buy more than three or four bags, you’ll have to make special shipping arrangements with the company.

(By the way, the shop was running low on the nails when I placed an order, so don’t be surprised if they are out for the time being. David Savage needed a bunch for my upcoming tool chest class. Sorry – my fault.)

The price of these nails compared to a blacksmith nail is quite good. A 50mm nail is about 13 cents (before shipping). A blacksmith nail of the same size is about $1.25 to $1.35 per.

But surely these “forged” nails aren’t made in a little shop in Oxford.

The curious underside of the head of a "forgery."

The curious underside of the head of a “forgery.”

I dug into my browser’s bookmarks, which is a giant cesspool of unorganized information – thousands of bookmarks from hundreds of dead-end searches. Something about these nails looked familiar and… French.

Then I found it: diamond-head nails from Rivierre Nail, the last nail-making company in France. I am about 95 percent certain these are the same nails. The only thing that is odd is the price. If you buy the 50mm nails from Rivierre, they cost 36 cents each (before shipping). That’s a huge price difference compared to Objects of Use.

Perhaps the French company offers a good break to wholesale customers. I sure hope someone out there starts importing these nails to the United States. Here’s the contact form for the company (hint, hint). Rivierre Nail makes many forms that are difficult to get here and would look great on pieces of reproduction furniture in styles that pre-date cut nails or wire nails.

— Christopher Schwarz

About Lost Art Press

Publisher of woodworking books and videos specializing in hand tool techniques.
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14 Responses to ‘Forged’ Forged Nails Available

  1. momist says:

    Seems I got the last of the door nails, and the board nails are already out of stock. Nice find, and I do hope they re-stock soon.
    It’s also worth browsing around their shop for other stuff – there are some nice dividers and compass pairs in there – and who knew you could get a bosun’s pipe that way?


  2. toolnut says:

    …”We experimented with them vs. cut nails and were impressed. “…
    Does this mean “as good as”, “almost as good as”, or “better than” cut nails? Thanks.


    • It means none of those things. Without any real way to test them at the time, I cannot say.

      That’s the most accurate statement I can make. I’ve ordered some, which should tell you that I’m going to use them.


  3. Andy in Germany says:

    Aren’t those like theo ones sold by Dictum in Germany?


  4. I followed the link to Rivierre Nail, it says in fact that these are forged, the use of a die would make them identical, and explains the “flashing” on the underside of the head. Since they are forged, and not die cast, they would probably be quite strong indeed. Add in the fact they are tapered on all four sides, they may even be superior to cut nails which I don’t think are forged (except for the upsetting of the head) and are tapered only on 2 sides. I am no expert though, My information on cut nails and the rest come from a bit of research into the age of a building I began renovating just after college and discovered cut nails for the first time.


  5. ant11sam says:

    For US buyers:
    France (€ euro) and UK (£ pounds) have diferent currencies and very diferent code taxes (VAT)… as all EU contries and nations. That may explain some price diferences.


    • Paul Sidener says:

      Vat taxes are removed on exports from England, not sure about France. The tax is not applied to exports.


  6. mmcollins3 says:

    As for an importer, I recently heard about this guy and his family buying an old tavern in Northern Kentucky. He already has a pretty good gig pimping books to unsuspecting woodworkers. Maybe he can get into moving cut nails now that he has some extra space. Heard he’s a friendly fellow and can be easily bribed with alcohol. You might want to look him up.


  7. Paul Sidener says:

    I have used the nails from Tremont Nail Co. These look a little different. The Tremont nails hold well


  8. John Switzer says:

    Gasp! The horrors. What will they think of next, nails with glue on the shanks? 😉


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