Saving Nails


Straightening a Nail

My grandfather would be proud. He taught me to save nails, to hammer them straight to use again later. The trick is to roll the nail along a smooth surface, pounding down the upward bending portion. Even nails with many bends end up useable this way.

Twenty years ago when I built our hay shed and production facility for manufacturing Transfer Toner for BlackLightning I did it using double headed nails like the one shown above. I anticipated wanting to take the structure down and that was a lot of lumber and hardware I looked forward to using in some other future project.

The future is now – Waste not, want not.

Outdoors: 70째F/41째F Sunny
Tiny Cottage: 72째F/69째F

About Walter Jeffries

Tinker, Tailor...
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14 Responses to Saving Nails

  1. Linda says:

    Yup we used to do that all the time. I still find myself doing it… I agee, waste not want not.

  2. Jesse says:

    My grandfather taught me the same thing. He had lived through the Great Depression.

  3. I wish I had ever thought of doing that. (Of course now with your help I have) I guess I figured the nail point would not be good second time round. (Also the idea that I would be tearing up something built was far from my mind when younger. (Learned that lesson in other ways.) As you say the pennies add up, but I think it is the attitude that is the big payoff. In a world where even a thousand dollar computer is considered 'unrepairable' after a few years I think straightening out a few nails could straighten out a few priorities.

  4. Gail says:

    My hubby says "that used to be a winter project on the farm. So he can relate to what you are doing!!

  5. Ares says:

    thats awesome….my mom used to reuse nails and i thought she was stupid …but now as an adult i know why : )

  6. Potential future disassembly is the reason we screw everything together. I wasn't even aware of double-headed nails, which I'm sure annoys the spirits of my ancestors.

  7. For years I used the double headed nails wherever possible and then I got a battery operated screw gun back in the early 1990's and switched to sheet rock screws where possible. We use screws a lot but sometimes the shear strength of a good 16 penny nail is needed. I did recently discover TimberLoc screws. Very nice and high shear strength but expensive.

  8. karl says:

    the local re-store usually has surplus drywall screws. when they do i stock up for just that re-purposing reason. i am especially happy when they have deck screws. they don't have nearly the shear strength but i usually over build anyway.

  9. Ryan says:

    I used to always straighten nails on a hard surface such as cement or metal anvil. On my last project I was closer to a piece of wood… I was in shock how much easier it was to straighten the nail!

    It only slightly surprises me that you are putting all the insulation under given the past projects. Any thoughts of running tubes for heating / cooling through the floor also?

  10. Nance says:

    Spent quite a few days of my youth, straightening nails.

    Oh.

    Hey.

    I'd like to be doing that again — for a living.

  11. Jerry says:

    We try to save nails and fence staples out on the farm as well…only many of our structures are up so long and see so much weather that nails often get rusted through horribly.

    I have been slowly moving the place to using screws as much as possible, since I have returned. But it blows my mind that the Robertson (square headed) screw has not caught on down there in the US. I suppose it will not matter for much longer as the age of cheap energy wanes.

    Impressive as always, Walter.

  12. Ryan, in-floor tubing is in the plan to move energy around. This winter I practiced. -WJ

  13. JoeLarry says:

    We call them 'peckerheads' here in the Canisteo Valley. Double headed for easy removal (which comes in very handy on the farm). We have coffee cans with used nails within an arms reach in every building.

  14. bonnie says:

    A good idea that I really agree with you.

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