Chris Schwarz's Blog

Anarchist’s 2015 Gift Guide, Day 7: Forged Roman-style Nails


Good nails have been used in fine furniture for centuries. But during the last 100 years, nails have earned a bad reputation among furniture makers. That’s because good nails (cut nails and forged Roman-style nails) disappeared and were replaced by wire nails.

Wire nails are cheap, don’t need a pilot hole and don’t hold for crap – and that’s the nicest thing I can say about them.

You can still buy cut nails from Tremont Nail Co. But if you wanted forged Roman-style nails, you had to go to a blacksmith and pay $1.35 per nail (that is a fair price, by the way).

This year I discovered machine-forged nails that are sold by Dictum in Germany. These nails look a lot like Roman nails, hold very well and cost pennies per nail. I’ve been using them for six months now and couldn’t be happier with the way they hold and look.


Dictum carries a variety of sizes. Start with the 50mm plank nail, which is the same as a 6d nail, which is good for fastening 3/4”-thick material. And get some 40mm door nails for attaching 1/2″-thick backs and bottoms to casework.

Buy a lot to save on shipping. You won’t regret it.

— Christopher Schwarz

For Day 1 of this year’s gift guide, click here.
Day 2 is here.
Day 3 is here.
Day 4 is here.
Day 5 is here.
Day 6 is here.
For my gift guides from 2013 and 2014, click here.

3 thoughts on “Anarchist’s 2015 Gift Guide, Day 7: Forged Roman-style Nails

  1. MCamaleri37

    Any idea of the clinchability of these? Dictum doesn’t say if they’re hardened; wondering if they’d need to be annealed to avoid snapping them. Thanks for all you do!

  2. Eric


    These look pretty cool. How do they compare to the wrought head and clout standard nails Lee Valley sells?


  3. mshacklady

    Hi Chris,

    Are there benefits in the machine forged nails over the cut nails from Tremont? Or is it just a stylistic thing?

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