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.