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.
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.
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