Brass Antique Nails for Restoration Projects

Older brass nails may be machine or handmade depending on their age. Examples that are 100 years old or older have a distinctive shape and color suitable for repairing period pieces. You can find different types of antique brass hardware in various quantities to complete small and larger projects.

How Do You Identify Old Nails?

Many times, you can date a piece of furniture by the type of nail used. These fasteners were handmade during the 1800s until the early 1900s when shanks and nailheads were machine-made.

  • Shanks were square-shaped before the 1800s and had a rectangular shape up until the 1880s. Modern common nails have round shanks.
  • Furthermore, earlier brass nails had a round head that kept materials fastened together. Crafters used T-shaped heads as finishers because they could sink the nailhead into the wood.
  • Early antique nails have hammer marks on their shanks and heads to further substantiate their age.
  • Additionally, the earliest specimens contained low amounts of carbon, which would leave a black stain on surrounding wood. Conversely, a newer nail that includes substantially more carbon leaves a red, rusty-looking residue.

What Are Some Uses for Antique Brass Nails?

  • Upholstery: Smaller decorative brass tacks from the mid-19th century are normally made from solid brass. Ones with dome-shaped heads are the appropriate shape when securing leather, canvas, and other materials to furniture frames. These brass escutcheon pins can be used to replace lost fasteners on old trunks or for installing hardware on boxes.
  • Cabinetry: Furniture from the 1800s and 1900s may have missing brass nails. Use solid brass or brass-plated fasteners to reapply a cabinet hinge or drawer pull.
  • Rustic Restorations: If you plan to make furniture out of reclaimed barn wood, use 2-inch, square shank nails recycled from a dismantled wooden boat. When restoring period furniture that has missing nails, use brass nails made within the same time period.

What Types of Antique Nails Are Available?

Most restorers keep a variety of nails on hand to complete a range of projects. A 3-inch wrought iron nail can join wooden pieces of board and batten doors or secure rough-sawed paneling to the wall. Keep a supply of handmade rosehead nails hand-forged in the 1700s or 1.5-inch examples saved from an old barn. Likewise, you may find brads with square shanks that have a tarnished copper-colored patina. When purchasing, youll find smaller 1/4-inch hardware and longer ones available in lots of 25, 50, and larger quantities.