22 October 2011

Wooden nails

After Adam Cherubini's seminar on Nailed Furniture at WIA 2011 I got some echoes through the blogosphere.

I have my own nailed furniture.  Here an example of paint-grade furniture of the twenties,  that was stripped (and survived) in the nineties to give it a second life. ... on second thought,  the nails possibly date from the nineties restoration.
A seventeenth century nailed example is harder to find,  to make the wood survive it would be most probably oak anyway, and oak is hard on nails.

Adam Cherubini is more specific about his nailed furniture: fasteners and a clever use of rabbets, dados and grooves.  That's different,  I always imagine I am here in a former panel and frame country and there is little chance to find assembled wide board

If I forget about the originals and go for the fun and fast aspect of nailed board, I hesitate as there are already alternatives with wooden fasteners: Dowels, like Krenov. Biscuits, making most of the rabbets, dados and grooves superfluous. Finger joints? And using screws:  pocket hole joinery, screws, dowel screws, ... . Most of these, although easy in realisation, present maybe an excessive modern - machine made aspect.

Wooden nails?  I was thinking thin dowels with a head to allow fixing thin panels without the nails slipping out. Ok here I have some ideas.  I grabbed some bamboo satay sticks,  measured them as being a skinny 2,5mm (0.1") and  went for a transversal load test.  I drilled, by lack of a 2,5mm drill, a 3mm hole in two boards and looked for the breaking point.  Two attempts gave me values close to 20kg.  I can probably improve that with glue and better holes to 30kg.  But it's not enough,  I am looking to something like 50kg and I expect to find it with a diameter between 3 and 4 mm.   If that succeeds I can go further: making nail heads, gluing and testing longitudinal load.
Testing further I covered the wood before gluing to test only the transversal strength of the stick and obtained a 27kg (60lb) breaking point with glue.  A second test: driving a stick in a 2mm hole with a hammer failed,  that's provably why nails are from metal.