Why are the nails manufactured today are too soft

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Forum topic by Shahidan posted 08-25-2015 07:06 AM 1420 views 0 times favorited 16 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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28 posts in 1545 days

08-25-2015 07:06 AM

The quality of nail manufactured today is bad. A single missed hammering will cause it to bend and it also rusts very fast

I am referring to nails manufactured here,in Malaysia.

16 replies so far

View Tenfingers58's profile


96 posts in 2702 days

#1 posted 08-26-2015 04:15 AM

Quality is bad in my opinion because people buy them. I live in the U.S. and people are always complaining about the quality of tools made in Chna (for example) yet they still buy them. If people quit buying low quality the market would put the “cheap” manufacturers out of business.

Something to think about, You’re buying a tool that is going to last in your shop for 20 or more years. Isn’t it better to save up another year and get a tool that will make you happy with each use.

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Jim Finn

2657 posts in 2946 days

#2 posted 08-26-2015 12:58 PM

............. If people quit buying low quality the market would put the “cheap” manufacturers out of business…...”.

I am not sure there are any nails made in the U S A any more. I heard a story , well over twenty years ago, about a roofing contractor having a hard time finding domestic roofing nails to use on a government building as required at the time. Kinda’ like looking for a made in U S A Television.

-- Website is No PHD just a DD214 and a GED

View Nubsnstubs's profile


1296 posts in 1754 days

#3 posted 08-26-2015 01:45 PM

To make hardened nails, the wire used must go through heat treating. That’s another added cost.

If 98% of the nails are successfully driven into a couple pieces of wood, why would the manufacturer care about a few bent nails. After all, the nails are usually covered by either paint of another piece of wood.

I have never been able to drive nails with 50% success, starting way back in the mid 1900’s when they were American made. I have nail guns do do my nail driving. Even then, one out of 5000 will bend.

What I should have said above, nails are expected to bend. Why would you want to change that trait? Ya know, hammer marks with the bent nail option. Distressed furniture, anyone? hehehe.. Jerry (in Tucson)

-- Jerry (in Tucson)

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1250 posts in 3004 days

#4 posted 08-26-2015 02:18 PM

I think it may also be to do with their tolerance and resistence to trauma. In the US, particularly in zones where quakes and tornados are a regular occurence the the buildings (in the main wooden structured) tend to flex. A maluable nail is less likely to sheer when forces are applied to the structure, more so than other hardened fixings such as screws for example.

I believe screws are not permitted in building regs in parts of the US?


-- No one plans to fail, they just, just fail to plan

View Ghidrah's profile


667 posts in 1246 days

#5 posted 08-26-2015 04:18 PM

Much of the nail deterioration regardless of manufacture is due to the material it is fastening. PT lumber eats brights, anodized, Galvy the only metal not affected by it is SST. Cedar is also acidic. 100 yrs ago everything was cut nails and they aged different than todays nails. Also the looks of an anodized nail discoloring cedar clap or shingles wasn’t as big an issue as it is today

-- I meant to do that!

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4793 posts in 3267 days

#6 posted 08-26-2015 05:32 PM

Nails will bend mainly because of the wood being driven into. Hard woods can easily bend a nail; wood grain can cause a nail to follow the grain; hidden knots , etc. Even a poorly designed/made hammer will have an effect on nail driving. Driving a nail with a hammer may seem like a simple thing to do, but like everything, there is a learning curve. If you are driving common nails, you use a framing hammer. That same hammer should not be used for finish nails. Don’t try to drive a nail with a ball peen hammer. It can be done, but you will bend more nails than drive them.

View davidcarp's profile


15 posts in 1285 days

#7 posted 08-26-2015 08:36 PM

I would add the following to anyone interested enough to wade through the commentary.

Nails can be made and sold by anyone so what properties you might get with a nail of unknown provenance is, well anything.

In the US most local building codes refer to the NDS (National Design Specification) for strength values of dowel type fasteners. In the NDS nails and spikes must meet the requirements of ASTM F1667. In my written specifications I also require that nails meet Federal Specifications FF_N—1-1. With the proliferation of gun nailing in US construction the nail mfgs must have a current ESR certificate. This is document that certifies the product, in this case the gun nail, meets testing criteria.

There are thousands of carbon steel alloys commonly in use. These alloys may have very different properties including strength. It is commonly accepted that very high strength steels do sacrifice malleability when compared to mild steels though it is not necessary to heat treat steels to get steel strengths several times that of the most malleable steels. Failures of nailed connections in wood are determined by a specified amount of slipping in the connection; nails rarely, if ever, fail before the max allowed joint slipage. While a very very brittle nail might present a problem during installation it would not be reason for failure of the connection.

The common failure when driving a nail is buckling. Buckling is a function of the material property, the length of the column (nail) and the moment of inertia of the column ( MOE iis proportional to the nail wire diameter). A longer thinner nail will buckle before a shorter thicker one.

When driving a nail the hammer head surface should be perfectly perpendicular to the nail shaft. If not perpendicular a bending moment is introduced into the nail (or it squirts it off to wherever) and bending forces increase the chance of buckling. Peen hammers have a crown on the impact surface making it much more difficult to achieve a perfect perpendicular impact.

All this is intuitively understood by everyone on this site and anyone that has ever driven a nail. The above just puts some specifics to observed phenomena.

To respond to the OP, What nail you might purchase in your local hardware store could be a nail with any variety of properties. The nail might have a smaller wire diameter or it might be made of a weak alloy. If the nail is not perfectly straight, a slight bend in the wire was introduced during mfg, it will tend to buckle vary easily. I have personally purchased a small box of nails in which every single nail buckled.

The NDS does provide structural values for wood screws and it is acceptable to most codes to use any type of fastener that provides the required connection strength. The reasons screws are not commonly used is that with a nail gun the total cost of the connection is far far less with nails than with screws and nail gun installed nails rarely buckle.

On my home projects I use screws almost exclusively. When someone asks me why I explain that I have one hammer and (truthfully) 10 nail pulling devices, and I don’t have enough, nail pullers.

View Shahidan's profile


28 posts in 1545 days

#8 posted 08-26-2015 10:48 PM

Long ago nails did not buckle as easily as nails manufactured today even when the hammer head was not totally flat .Formerly the nails were imported from UK and the quality was good.
Well,as one of us commented people wanted cheap products. Quality is no issue. “Skil’ power tools were once a US product.Now the tools were made in China. I found that most Chinese made tools did not last and I think that is why one chain store give only one week guarantee for the tools bought from them. Ridiculous, isn’t it Even when a tool is broken after one week or one month no spare part is available.

The cordless drill made in China is very cheap but if you were to buy a new battery it will cost more than a new. drill.I have a few of these drills given to me and I made 12vDc or 14Vdc power supply to run them but then they are no longer portable.Come to think of it not all tools made in China are bad and they are cheap compared to those with Japanese or German trade marks. I am confused…..

View REO's profile


928 posts in 2098 days

#9 posted 08-27-2015 04:15 AM

There is a reason the face of a hammer is domed. It provides a better chance of the nail being driven to be perpendicular to the tangent point of impact. It also allows the force of the hammer to be delivered properly without precise perpendicularity of the handle or head. Ball peen hammers traditionally were manufactured with a flat face that was parallel with the handle that is why it is most difficult to drive a nail with them. Better nailing hammers have a precisely formed face while cheap hammers vary widely. even the checker faced hammers are domed.

View Redoak49's profile (online now)


3283 posts in 2012 days

#10 posted 08-27-2015 11:44 AM

This is an interesting thread. The ASTM nail specs have a ductility requirement and not generally a strength/hardness requirement. Davidcarps post is very good.

We want nails to bend before they break to prevent spalling and pieces flying off the nail. A harder nail could also damage the hammer face.

In this day it is much easier to control the steel chemistry and properties. It is the choice of the mfg as to the properties of the nails. It is not needed to heat treat the nails to get higher hardness as there are grades of steel that will harden during the process of making the nail. BUT, it does cost more…..

It would be interesting to know how the relative number of nails driven by hand versus with nail runs.

View dhazelton's profile


2771 posts in 2321 days

#11 posted 08-27-2015 11:46 AM

I prefer bending a nail to having it break and fly off toward my face.

View ohtimberwolf's profile


813 posts in 2376 days

#12 posted 08-28-2015 12:58 AM

I was once told that hitting the nail too hard can cause it to bend. I have found that when driving long thin brads if you actually drive the nail instead of pile driving it they can be driven quite well. I pay attention to this especially when I am using a nail set. It may take three times the amount of taps on the set but the head goes in straight, the nail doesn’t bend and it doesn’t slip off the nail head. Sort of like the old “spudders” used to drill oil wells theory.

Just my experience. larry

-- Just a barn cat, now gone to cat heaven.

View Ghidrah's profile


667 posts in 1246 days

#13 posted 08-30-2015 02:13 AM

I began framing just before pneumatics became popular enough to be wide spread. I also found that gun nailing was considerably faster than hand nailing and preferred working for the progressive crews; I didn’t feel the need to look like a lopsided Popeye. Proper framing hammers do not have rounded heads by any means; however they can become rounded with improper use. I have both types; a 28 oz wooden handled thumb mashing waffle iron and a bunch of 22 oz Rockets. I tried pretty much every brand on the market and most of them got flying lessons, the Cape is littered with my hammers.

Miss the nail and hit concrete or steel too many times and the head will chip and round. Many old timers would take a new waffle and scrape it over concrete to slightly flatten the waffle points. In the late 70s early 80s most of the experienced guys I knew carried 32 oz waffles and could sink a 3 1/2” 16p in 2, 1 to set, the 2nd to sink and do it repeatedly without bending nails. Muscle memory allowed them to maintain proper wrist and forearm angles. Rarely did one see 2 framers facing each other while banging nails (sheathing) when one did miss you did not want to be within 45° left or right.

Nails are manufactured for their shear strength. If one pairs nails and counters them, (doubling rafts or joists) this action locks the 2 pieces together, straight nailing will not hold them together and the boards will begin to separate as they dry. No matter which way the board tries to flex nails are forcing them together.

-- I meant to do that!

View ohtimberwolf's profile


813 posts in 2376 days

#14 posted 08-30-2015 12:02 PM

There are tricks to every trade and this is a good place to learn if we are teachable. No one knows them all but each has their years of experience to help fill in the gaps. LJ is a great place for this.

-- Just a barn cat, now gone to cat heaven.

View Pezking7p's profile


3217 posts in 1675 days

#15 posted 08-30-2015 12:32 PM

Generally, a harder nail is a weaker nail. That is why nails are soft.

It’s possible the wood in your area is very hard, or that the nails are dull.

-- -Dan

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