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The wire nails at the home center stink for making furniture. Don’t even think of them as nails. They are more like greased straws than they are fasteners. Once you try Rivierre forged nails, I think you’ll develop a deep respect for the nail that has Roman DNA.

Nails built this country. At one point in the 19th century, the sale of nails was a significant amount of the country’s gross domestic product (what we call the GDP). They were used widely in building houses, installing trim and making furniture. And they were respected much more than they are today.

Rivierre nails are a fascinating hybrid of the forged Roman nail, which has four tapered facets, and the cut nail, which is produced en masse by machine. I’ve driven hundreds and hundreds of cut nails and forged nails and – in my opinion – the Rivierre nails are the best thing out there for the money.

They are made in a small factory in France (read about that here). They hold incredibly well. And they are inexpensive and widely available. In Europe you can get them from Dictum. In the United States and Canada, you can buy them from Lie-Nielsen Toolworks and Lee Valley Tools.

I wrote a short guide to how to pick the sizes for your work here.

But if you are new to nails, try a pack of the 40mm diamond-head nails (blued or black). They are great for fastening on backboards or the bottoms of chests. Once you give them a try, I think you’ll be hooked for life.

— Christopher Schwarz

  • To read past entries from this guide (and from former years), click here.

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Showing 6 comments
  • MCamaleri37

    How are these nails for clinching purposes? The square profile makes me think they’d snap for some reason, but if they’re cold rolled, maybe they’re soft enough anyway. Has anyone had any experience clinching these?

  • oltexasboy

    I have to admit I am a little disappointed in your choice of nails. Tremont nail co makes really good nails and they are an American manufacturer that needs the support of the woodworking community. I use their nails and have been quite satisfied with the product. If it is a different style that you are looking for, maybe you could contact them and see if they might produce what it is exactly that you want. You have enough of a “following” that I feel reasonably sure they could sell enough of a specialty nail to offset the potential cost, with a bit of your help and a few lines of praise on your part. Thanks Keep up the good work .

  • Tool_Man_Dan

    Chris, perfect timing on this post. Was just looking at your dutch tool box and thinking the back should be made of plywood. Do you have any thoughts on using cut nails into the end of plywood sheets?
    Thanks and have a great day.

  • degennarod

    When someone says, “You nailed it!” were they referring to cut nails? I recall many years spent pounding nails into whatever boards I could scrounge, then briefly making a living as a carpenter building structures with “greased straws.” I’ve had fun using cut nails to make throwback tool chests. All nails have led me to good expeiiences. Except the one that went through my foot…

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Cyber Monday 2017