1Ernesto
1Ernesto

Weathered Wood & Some Square Nails un-edited

Square nails, the kind made by shearing tapered strips from a sheet of steel, were common in buildings until about 1910, so anything still standing that has the...
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Square nails, the kind made by shearing tapered strips from a sheet of steel, were common in buildings until about 1910, so anything still standing that has them most likely was built more than a century ago. The wood siding of the building in this photo is located in Bodie, California’s Ghost Town and has the age and the weathering to prove its century long exposure to the elements. Not all the nails are square which would indicate some restoration or as they say in Bodie today preserved in a state of "arrested decay."
Square-cut nails are fundamentally superior to modern wire nails because of their superior holding power. If you’ve ever attempted to extract a square-cut nail from a board, you know what I’m talking about. They hold so tenaciously that you’ll often break the board or the nail itself before removing it. The reason for this is the shape of the shank, which usually tapers on two opposite sides from head to tip, resulting in a point that is chisel-shaped. The four edges of the shank also tend to be very sharp. When driven with the correct orientation (non-tapered sides parallel to the grain), the tip and edges shear the wood fibers rather than push them apart as wire nails do, and the shank finally wedges itself tightly into the wood. Because of their shearing ability, square-cut nails tend not to split wood, and can be used closer to the edge or end of a board than a wire nail. So, the next time you’re touring an historic home or ghost town, keep in mind the old adage that a wooden structure is only as strong as its fasteners, and you may more fully understand just why some of these old buildings are still standing. The construction techniques of our forebears were not necessarily inferior to our own. Some were actually better, only succumbing in the end to the practice of trading utility off in favor of reducing costs.

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2 Comments | Report
valeriemurchie-stolpe
 
valeriemurchie-stolpe July 30, 2015
I love the look of old, weathered wood. It is beautiful.
1Ernesto
1Ernesto July 30, 2015
Yes I also love it and that is what was inviting me to take the photo. Only after closer examination did I notice the square nails and the newer round ones...........
yourlily
 
yourlily July 31, 2015
Me too...wood is a 'must touch' surface and old wood particularly so...this is lovely..