What Is a Double-Headed Nail and Why Should You Use One?


Nails are an ancient invention. However, the Harp Gallery has said that archaeologists have found bronze nails from as far back as 3000 BC. That means that people started making nails before they were capable of smelting iron in large quantities. After all, Anatolian Archaeological Studies state that the earliest evidence for smelting iron comes from the Proto-Hittite layers at Kaman-Kalehöyük from about 2200 to 2000 BC. Even then, the evidence is tentative.

Still, pre-modern nail-making was very different from modern nail-making. Once upon a time, nailers had to forge nails one by one. These nails had heads attached through smithing. Meanwhile, the rest of their form tended to be square-shaped but tapered towards the point. Pre-modern people were capable of incredible craftsmanship. The issue is that this would’ve been both expensive and time-consuming, which would’ve worsened the existing cost issues for the nails. For proof of the latter, look no further than the fact that pre-modern people used to reclaim nails from ruined buildings for reuse. These cost issues meant that double-headed nails and other specialty nails wouldn’t see widespread use until industrialization made it possible to mass-produce them.

What Is a Double-Headed Nail?

Double-headed nails have two heads rather than one. They are just as strong as standard nails. However, people are supposed to drive double-headed nails up to their first heads so that their second heads are still sticking out. This way, they can be pulled out with ease with the reverse end of a claw hammer.

By this point, people should have no problem guessing that double-headed nails are purpose-made for temporary structures. Even now, double-headed nails are sometimes called scaffold nails because of their use in wooden scaffolding. Nowadays, wooden scaffolding has been replaced by metal scaffolding in a lot of places. Despite that, double-headed nails still see use in wooden scaffolding here and there. Moreover, they also see a fair amount of use in both formwork and temporary braces.

Why Should You Use a Double-Headed Nail?

Hunker makes it clear that these uses aren’t coincidental. Double-headed nails are used in much the same manner as their standard counterparts. The main difference is that their second heads make it easy to pull them out. As a result, double-headed nails are useful when people want to hold a temporary structure together. They are just as strong as their standard counterparts, so they can be relied upon in that respect. Once the temporary structure is no longer needed, the ease of pulling out double-headed nails reduces the amount of effort needed to take it apart. This even makes it possible for people to reuse these nails in future projects.

Summed up, people should use double-headed nails when they are putting temporary structures. To name an example, concrete-pouring projects often involve the use of wooden frames. Double-headed nails are a great choice for holding these wooden frames together. They can be pulled out with less hassle compared to their standard counterparts once the concrete has hardened.

What Are Some Other Examples of Specialty Nails?

Double-headed nails aren’t the only specialty nails out there. There is a wide range of other specialty nails meant for a wide range of other uses. Some of these have small changes that nonetheless provide them with very different capabilities. Others can be even more interesting.

For instance, people might have seen nails with heads that are bigger than normal. Those are roofing nails. In some cases, these nails even have plastic disks placed beneath their heads to increase the surface area that they can hold in place. Similarly, people might have seen nails with rings on their shanks. Generally speaking, the rings are meant to provide them with a tighter hold. To name an example, this is very important for decking nails because they need to hold on despite the weathering that decks are expected to undergo because of their constant exposure to the elements. However, some of these nails can have other distinguishing characteristics as well.

Underlayment nails tend to be thinner than normal because that reduces the risk of them splitting the wood that they are used on. Meanwhile, there are also ringed nails that are meant for softwoods and hardwoods. The first kind of nail is called annular ring nails. Their rings are either level or very slightly slanted. Annular ring nails are supposed to push the fibers of softwoods out of the way while they are being driven in. After which, those same fibers are supposed to move back in to fill the spaces created by their rings, thus making for a tighter hold. In contrast, the second kind of nail is called spiral shank nails, which have rings that are so slanted that they look like screws. Their rings make them very good at penetrating dense hardwoods.

Why are Nails Interesting?

Moving on, other nails can be even more interesting for one reason or another. Sinker nails are strange-looking. They have rings on a small portion of their flank towards the top. Furthermore, they are strangely dirty-looking because they are coated in either cement or vinyl. Still, there are reasons for these features. When sinker nails are driven in, the friction heats the coating. That makes for a smoother entry. Moreover, the rings combine with the melted and then resolidified coating to create a stronger hold than otherwise possible. Likewise, cut nails are interesting because they are specifically made to emulate the look of older buildings. They are cut from metal sheets rather than made by drawing wire through a system of dies. Due to this, cut nails are also notable for having blunt tips.

Even the material of nails can have a huge effect on their capabilities. Amusingly, both bronze nails and iron nails are still being made, though neither are very common. Bronze nails are used in boat construction because of bronze’s corrosion resistance while iron nails are used in historical restoration. Aluminum nails are good for cedar and redwood because the metal won’t react to those woods while copper nails are good at resisting the corrosion that can be caused by emitted pollution. There are even different kinds of steel nails with different properties. Both stainless steel and galvanized steel are good at resisting corrosion. Meanwhile, carbon steel has higher carbon content, which makes it better for harder materials because it is harder.

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