You are here

Nail-making

<strong>“Cloutier Grossier”</strong> (large nail-making), <em>L’Encyclopédie</em> by Denis Diderot and Jean d’Alembert, 1763.To make nails by hand, young Moses Hern, like his fellow nailboys, heated iron nailrod in a hot forge and hammered one end to a point on an anvil.  Then, placing the nailrod on a metal wedge called a hardy, Hern notched the nail where he wanted to break it.  He stuck the pointed end of the notched nailrod into the header and twisted it to break off the excess metal.  With four blows, Hern made the nail head by hammering the top of the nail into the header.  To make a machine-made nail, Hern fed hoop iron into the nail-cutting machine, which cut the nailrod into short pieces.  Hern then fashioned the head of a machine-cut nail by hand. 

1783–after 1812
Charcoal-burner, Nailer, Stonecutter

Nailer, Charcoal-burner.  1783-after 1812.  Learn more about James Hubbard’s life history.

Download our new Slavery at Monticello app!

Hear unforgettable stories. See vanished buildings.  Learn how Jefferson ran his plantation.  Available for free at the App Store and Google Play »

“excepted from the whip altogether”

In a Jan. 31, 1801 postscript, Jefferson's son-in-law, Thomas Mann Randolph, Jr., describes how Jefferson’s orders are being carried out in the nailery.

Read the letter »

Participate

Login or register to participate in our online community.