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Nail Headers

Updated: May 4, 2023

Figure 1

The following is excerpted from The Chronicle Vol. XVII no. 3, September 1964

by James Sorber

The header shown in figs. 1 and 2, fitted into the swage-block of the anvil. The heated nail-rod was pointed on the anvil; placed over ,the chisel or hardie part of the header, partially cut a,nd then placed in the head­ing hole breaking off the remainder of the rod. The head was then hammered in shape and the finished nail extracted by raising the lever of the header as shown in fig. 2.

Figure 2

A drawing of a similar nail header is in Mercer, Ancient Carpenters’ Tools [Doylestown, Pa. 1960], p240. Mr. Mercer made the drawing from a header found among old blacksmith’s relics in Berks County, Pennsylvania. A similar header was seen being used by a blacksmith, lacking the hardie, c. 1875. It was call­ed in German a nageleisen [i.e. nail iron or heading tool].

Figure 3

Fig. 3, shows a simple type nail-header, that could be used i1n two different ways. One, by holding the head­er on the anvil letting the heading hole protrude over the face of the anvil and thus heading the nail; second, by placing the heading hole over the pritchel hole of the anvil and thus heading the nail. The finished nail could be removed either by turning the header over and tapping on the anvil or ,by striking the end of the nail with the hammer.


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