Cut vs Wire Nails: What’s the Difference?

Characterized by a long and slender body and a flattened head, nails are used to fasten multiple objects together. As the nail is driven through the objects, the flattened head creates pressure that holds the objects together. Even if you’re familiar with the basic mechanics of nails, though, you might be surprised to learn that there are different types of nails, including cut and wire. Based on appearance alone, cut and wire nails look the same, but they are manufactured in completely different ways.

What Are Cut Nails?

Originating during the late 18th century, cut nails are metal fasteners that are characterized by a wedge-like shape. American engineer Jacob Perkins patented the cut nail production process in 1795. Cut nails are made by shearing stock metal with a machine. The machine cuts and deforms the stock metal into the appropriate size and shape for the cut nails.

Cut nails aren’t just ordinary nails, however. Also known as square nails, they feature a blunt tip. They are called “cut nails” because they are cut on all four sides, resulting in the formation of a blunt tip.

What Are Wire Nails

Wire nails, on the other hand, are made by drawing coils through multiple dies. They originated about a half-century ago cut nails. In the mid-1800s, wire nails emerged as a popular alternative to cut nails.

To produce wire nails, coils of metal wire are drawn through a system of multiple dies. As the coil passes through each die, it’s reshaped until the appropriate diameter is achieved. Next, the deformed coil are cut, typically by machine, and then formed into wire nails.

How Cut and Wire Nails Differ

Aside from their production nuances, cut nails and wire nails differ in several ways. Cut nails have a blunt tip, whereas wire nails have a sharp tip. Cut nails are also larger than wire nails. The unique wedge-like shape of cut nails makes them ideal for construction applications involving masonry. For example, they are often used to secure wood panels or boards to brick structures. Cut nails are able to dig into brick, thanks to its wedge-like shape, to create a stronger hold than that of wire nails.

In terms of popularity, wire nails come out on top. Statistics show over 90% of all nails manufactured globally consist of wire nails, meaning fewer than one in 10 of all manufactured nails are cut nails.

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