Screws and nails
concepturally the worm screw developed by Archimedes in the 3rd century b.c. is one of the earliest precedents for today's wood screws. Boring augers date back to Roman antiquity and provide a closer link with screws used today. These were forged by hand long after the development of machines for cutting threads. There is iconographic evidence that the precedents for the modern lathe date back to the 1st century in the Mediterreanean Basin. These machines could be applied only to the softest of metals until the end of the 17th centuy. For the two centuries prior to this, iron screws had to be threaded by a device similar to hand dies used today. Leondard da Vinci was one of the many Renaissance inventors instrumental in the development of the lathe and thread cutting machines. In 1693, a French clergyman, Plumier, brought together the current knowledge of turning iron in one of the earliest thread cutting machines applicable to iron. The machines of Jesse Ramsden in England brought true precision to the art of machining iron in the second half of the 18th century.
Screws found their earlest widespread use in the clocks and firearms of the 16th century. It should be noted that the use of screws in building construction and cabinet work was uncommon until the late 19th century because of prohibitive cost. When screws were used, the pieces to be joined had to be bored to accept the screws. Points for true wood screws had to be forged by hand after threading, adding to their cost and providing an additional reason for not using them in construction. The development of specialized threading machines in the late 19th century made the widespread use of woodscrews possible.
There are three basic categiories of nails wrought, cut, and wire. Wrought nails of copper were used as early as 2800 b.c. in Egypt for attaching decorative foil to cabinet work. There is conclusive evidence that wrought iron nails were used in boat construction by the Vikings as early as the 3rd century. Cost prohibited the use of wrought nails for any but the most specialized of purposes. In early building construction, nails were largely limited to finish carpentry.
Prior to the 15th century in England nails were classified by thecost per hundred 100 8 penny nails cost 8 pence. During the 15th century, he basis for standardization was changed to size but the classification nomenclature remained the same. In Colonial North America the demand for nails was so great it was necessary that laws be enacted to prevent the burning of old buildings for nails. Russian and Swedish iron stock were preferred for nail maunfacture but even with local iron. nail manufacture couldn't keep up with demand in colonial America. With the start of the Revolution, Americans became more depedent on local nail manufacture. The serious development of nail cutting machines in the 1780s wasn't a moment too soon for the Americans. Due to the efforts of man among them: Jacob Perkins, J. G. Pierson, Jesse Reed, Mark and Richard Reeves large quantities of machine-cut nails were available during the first years of the 19th century. An early machine built by W. J. Folsome in 1789 was procuding 120,000 nails per week by March of that year. In spite of the advent of cut nails, wrought nailes remained in ise well into the 19th
Century for certain purposes. This was largely due to the malleability of the wrought nails which allowed clinching. The early cut nails were too brittle for clinching. Widespread acceptance of cut nails marked the end of an era where pegging was the accepted method of joining timber framing. By 1840 the trunnel (misnomer for treenail) had been replaced by the nail and spike except in wooden bridge construction, where the wooden pegs were less susceptible to dislocation by vibration.
Wire nails were the next step toward setting the stage for the building boom to come in the U.S. In the form known today as the wire brad, wire nails and machines for their production where highly developed in England, France, and Germany in the first hald of the 19th century. These small nails were used primarily in the manufacture of pocketbook frames and cigar boxes. They were introduced to the U.S. in the 1850s. The wire nails as we know it was perfected in the two decaded before the U.S. Centennial celebration. The machinery for the wire nail production was a major exhibit at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition. Wire nailes did not replace cut nails in the rapid fashion wrought nails were displaced.
Greater holding power was a major reason for this. By the 1890s lower price and great variety in wire nails overcame the opposition. The earlier wire nails were characterized by the bulbous head usually eccentric to the shank. Cut nails contunue to be used extensively for specific functions flooring, boat-making, masonry.
The newst of nails combine the best qualities of the wire nail and the screw but like all the rest will never replace wire nails for general use for the all-prevailing factor: cost.