Saturday, August 5, 2017

Daddy, Where Do Nails Come From?

Did you ever get that question?  Got an answer?

Just a fun little story from Fine Woodworking's weekly newsletter.  The kind of story I find almost infinitely cool.
Originally located in Wareham, Massachusetts, Tremont Nail Company has been making cut nails since 1819. Gary Franklin’s great-great-grandfather started working at Tremont as a nailer in the 1850’s, and since then five generations of Franklins have worked as nailers at Tremont. It’s all part of a heritage that Tremont is very proud of.
The machines themselves haven't been in the factory since 1819, but the company web page says many of them are 125 years old, making steel nails the same way they were made in the 1890s.  The video (you've got to spend the 3-1/2 minutes to see the machines making nails) speaks of the very first nail-making machines being invented by Ezekiel Reed in the late 1700s and the company speaks about them being used at Tremont from their founding in 1819. 
Gary Franklin taking a quick inspection of a nail.  A few years after joining Tremont Nail Company in the 1850s, Gary's great-great-grandfather was drafted to go fight in the civil war.  When he got out, he went back to work there.   He says, "my dad actually worked with his grandfather and his great-grandfather for a short spell".  For his part, Gary says he started working there in 1981, so he has been making nails for over 35 years.  He has a 13 year old son, who may some day join the long lines of his family. 

I'll bet that, like me, most of you dear readers wouldn't think that nails are still made in America, and that maybe one or two people knows about Tremont nail. 


  1. I confess that I never heard of Tremont nail. I usually make a wild assumption when I get good hardware that it's made in North America. The crap - comes from Asia.

  2. That is just too cool.
    I wonder where in the hell they found another machine at?
    There can't be too many of those just laying around I wouldn't think.
    It would be awesome if the guy did a video documentary on how and where they found it, what it took to get it back there and what all they had to do to get it up and running again.
    Then at the end show it making nails on the production line.

  3. I thought they were spontaneously generated each time I hit my thumb with a hammer

  4. Thank you for posting this, it makes me think there's hope for us yet.

  5. There are still a bunch of blacksmiths who know how to make cut nails, as they were originally made by hand. A good blacksmith could produce hundreds in a day.

    1. I just downloaded their catalog, and I'm amazed at how many different styles they make. I really like these companies that make stuff for reproduction work. Thanks for posting this, SiG.

    2. It's all cool stuff. I thought it was interesting that the editors thought the highlight worth keeping was when Gary Franklin talked about the nails being used in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies.

      It was just neat to watch the machine moving. You just know the first one was made by a guy going through the motions to make a nail and figuring out ways to make the machine do it. Watching some of these machines is hypnotic.