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Whenever I teach at a woodworking school, I’m always fascinated by what happens when I open my tackle box full of cut nails. Usually, the students react as if I’d opened a case of ticked-off scorpions.

At The Center for Furniture Craftsmanship, one of the students asked: “Are those allowed here?”

That was on Monday. By Friday, the 11 students were stuffing the extra nails into their pockets and banging merrily away on their projects – driving the 4d clinch rosehead nails and cut headless brads into their small dovetailed chests.

Many of them now see cut nails like I see nails: as an important piece of hardware on a traditional project. Cut nails hold like crazy and look quite nice in traditional work. And we are not the first people to think this.

In 1810, nails were 0.4 percent of our nation’s gross national product, according to a July 2011 report on the prices of nails and screws since 1700 that was prepared by Daniel Sichel of the Federal Reserve Board.


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