Country furniture does have its styles based predominately on religion and region.The catholic French and the Irish built cupboards with bold moldings, cut out feet, raised panels and they painted their cupboards in bright colors.It was not until around 1600 that the first machine for making nails appeared, but that tended really to automate much of the blacksmith's job.The 'Oliver' - a kind of work-bench, equipped with a pair of treadle operated hammers - provided a mechanism for beating the metal into various shapes but the nails were still made one at a time.Iron ore and carbon heated together and then cooled created wrought iron, from which a nail length piece was cut and hammered on four sides to create a point.Hand-wrought nails have tapered but irregular and crooked square shafts.
Screws are relative newcomers to the production of furniture primarily because they are so hard to make by hand.
The handmade nails of the period derived much of their holding power from the ability to drive the nail through two surfaces and bend it over on the backside, i.e. But that solution would not work for securing the top on a chest of drawers or table top without either driving a nail through the top from above or clinching it on the top to hold it fast.
The same problem arose while trying to affix a lock to the backside of a drawer.
(this page contains the substance of an article entitled 'Traditional Cut Nails - worth preserving?
' written in May 2002 at the request of, and for inclusion in, the RICS Building Conservation Journal)For nail making, iron ore was heated with carbon to form a dense spongy mass of metal which was then fashioned into the shape of square rods and left to cool. After re-heating the rod in a forge, the blacksmith would cut off a nail length and hammer all four sides of the softened end to form a point.