It’s Time to Buy Rivierre Nails


Lie-Nielsen’s shipment of Rivierre die-forged nails have arrived in Maine and the company has started to sell the nails on its website here.

I ordered one box of each size and style to take a look at the blued finish and the hammered-head variants. (Previously all the Rivierre nails I’ve used were black and had the diamond heads.) Yes, I paid full retail. All the nails are very nice. The blue is nice and dark – almost black. The difference is subtle and is something most casual observers would overlook (in other words: either is fine).

If you are looking for a good assortment to begin with, here are some guidelines:

30mm nails: Fastening 3/8”-thick stuff.
35mm to 40mm nails: Fastening 1/2”-thick stuff.
50mm to 55mm nails: Fastening 3/4”-thick stuff.


You’ll probably use 35mm and 40mm nails more than the other sizes. That’s because they are ideal for cabinet backs and bottoms. And once you reduce the thickness of a 3/4” cabinet side to 1/2” for a dado or rabbet, you’ll grab a 35mm or 40mm nail for that joint as well.

In general, the longer the nail, the more fastening power it provides, but the extra length also makes the fastener more likely to split the work or bend to follow the grain. The good news is that these nails are robust and don’t tend to follow the grain much (I have yet to have one wander, which is a significant concern with softer cut nails).

It took a long time for Lie-Nielsen to get these nails, so if you order I would err on the side of ordering a few extra boxes (nails don’t go bad – like chicken).

Here again is the link to the Lie-Nielsen part of the site for nails.

— Christopher Schwarz

P.S. For our Aussie readers, watch the Henry Eckert website. They are working on getting Rivierre nails below the Equator.

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Publisher of woodworking books and videos specializing in hand tool techniques.
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8 Responses to It’s Time to Buy Rivierre Nails

  1. These are extremely beautiful and effective nails and I endorse Chris recommendation. They are also available direct from the suppliers in a wider range of form and length:

    Shipping to Europe is cheap but elsewhere in the world may be expensive and slow so a local stockist will be your best bet.


  2. Oh wise one….with your enthusiasm in The Design Book and your post here – I am ready to buy some real nails, but the Lie-Nielsen website…..confuses me with all those options – what the heck are they? I understand what you said by 35mm to 40mm and etc….but there are 8 different versions. What’s a good starter set for a person nailing a 1/2 inch board into something…..Thanks!


    • Mark,

      Ignore the XL nails for now. They aren’t relevant to backs.

      Choose a finish (blue or black) and a head style (diamond or hammered). Those decisions are purely aesthetic. I’ve been using the black diamond-head nails.

      Then choose a length: 35mm or 40mm. Either will work fine. My personal take on it is I’d choose the 35mm if hard woods are involved in the joint (say nailing pine onto oak). The oak will hold the nail like crazy so a shorter nail is easier to drive and more than strong enough. Use the 40mm nails if you are nailing soft woods to soft woods. The extra length will help here.

      Hope this helps.


  3. mdhenninger says:

    I not have any tapered drill bits, what do I need for the common sizes you mention above(30, 35, 50mm)?


    • You don’t have to use tapered bits. They just make it easier.

      Your regular twist bits will to the job: 5/64″, 3/32″, 7/64″ and 1/8″ are about all you need for most nails.

      There are no absolute rules about pilot hole sizes, except that the pilot should be a depth of 2/3s the length of the nail or less. The diameter of the pilot depends on the woods being nailed, the size of the nail and how close you are to the end of the board.

      An experiment or two will teach you what you need to know better than any blog entry.


  4. tsstahl says:

    Thank you for the picture with your hand; that gave me the perspective I was looking for.

    I JUST finished a project where I wanted nail heads smaller than a clavos, yet bigger than the Tremont rose heads.


  5. Ed Clarke says:

    I may have ordered the wrong nails: 2-CR-H-N40. They are absolutely beautiful but I think they’re too big for half inch stock… True/False? They also look too nice to hit with a hammer.


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