I have removed some difficult nails during the last 20 years, including a lot of manufactured cut nails and blacksmith-made wrought nails. Both of these styles of nails always hold much better than modern wire nails, which hold about as well as hot-melt glue or nails made of spaghetti.
But today I had to pull out one of the French die-forged nails from Rivierre Nail Factory. If I had to write a song about it, I’d call it “I Fought the Nail and the Nail Won” by Nine Inch Nails.
Here’s how it began. I was attaching 1/2”-thick poplar backboards to a white oak carcase using the 40mm nails. First I drilled a 1/8”-diameter pilot hole for the nail that was about half the length of the nail. Then I hammered the nail home.
As soon as I finished, I saw my error. The backboard had shifted about 3/16” from where it was supposed to be.
First I grabbed my 3 lb. lump hammer and a beater block and tried to knock the backboard free. After all, it was just one nail holding the backboard in place.
The nail didn’t budge.
I tried to slip a thin cabinetmakers’ pry bar between the backboard and the case to lift the back board.
I tried to knock a small crowbar between the back and case with a hammer and some gentle taps so I didn’t destroy the backboards.
Then I reluctantly took my Japanese cat’s paw and dug under the nail’s head to pull the nail out by its head. This is always my last resort.
But I couldn’t pull the head up. Even with the 90° leverage of the cat’s paw.
After five minutes of digging around under the head I finally abused the poplar enough that I could lift the backboard enough to get a serious crowbar between the case and backboard.
And with a mighty groan, the nail gave up. But not without cracking the backboard and cracking the shiplap on the adjoining backboard.
I considered replacing this backboard with a new one to hide the evidence of the scuffle. But I decided that showed a lack of respect to the nail. So I fastened the backboard in place, leaving the splits (which are cosmetically minor).
If you haven’t tried these nails, do. They are awesome and inexpensive, even with the international shipping. I’m afraid I do not know of any North American supplier of these nails. If you do, speak up!
Here are two entries I wrote on their details.
— Christopher Schwarz