PNG images: Nail

In woodworking and construction, a nail is a pin-shaped object of metal (or wood, called a treenail or "trunnel") which is used as a fastener, as a peg to hang something, or sometimes as a decoration. Generally, nails have a sharp point on one end and a flattened head on the other, but headless nails are available. Nails are made in a great variety of forms for specialised purposes. The most common is a wire nail. Other types of nails include pins, tacks, brads, and cleats.

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The first nails were made of wrought-iron. Nails date back at least to Ancient Egypt — bronze nails found in Egypt have been dated 3400 BC. The Bible provides a number of references to nails, including the story in Judges of Jael the wife of Heber, who drives a nail (or tent-peg) into the temple of a sleeping Canaanite commander; the provision of iron for nails by King David for what would become Solomon's Temple; and in connection with the crucifixion of Christ.

The Romans made extensive use of nails. The Roman army, for example, left behind seven tons of nails when it evacuated the fortress of Inchtuthil in Perthshire in the United Kingdom in 86 to 87 CE.

The term "penny", as it refers to nails, probably originated in medieval England to describe the price of a hundred nails. Nails themselves were sufficiently valuable and standardised to be used as an informal medium of exchange.

Until around 1800 artisans known as nailers or nailors made nails by hand – note the surname Naylor. (Workmen called slitters cut up iron bars to a suitable size for nailers to work on. From the late 16th century, manual slitters disappeared with the rise of the slitting mill, which cut bars of iron into rods with an even cross-section, saving much manual effort.)

At the time of the American Revolution, England was the largest manufacturer of nails in the world. Nails were expensive and difficult to obtain in the American colonies, so that abandoned houses were sometimes deliberately burned down to allow recovery of used nails from the ashes. Families often had small nail-manufacturing setups in their homes; during bad weather and at night, the entire family might work at making nails for their own use and for barter. Thomas Jefferson wrote in a letter: "In our private pursuits it is a great advantage that every honest employment is deemed honorable. I am myself a nail maker." The growth of the trade in the American colonies was theoretically held back by the prohibition of new slitting mills in America by the Iron Act of 1750, though there is no evidence that the Act was actually enforced.

The production of wrought-iron nails continued well into the 19th century, but ultimately was reduced to nails for purposes for which the softer cut nails were unsuitable, including horseshoe nails.

Nails are typically driven into the workpiece by a hammer, a pneumatic nail gun, or a small explosive charge or primer. A nail holds materials together by friction in the axial direction and shear strength laterally. The point of the nail is also sometimes bent over or clinched after driving to prevent pulling out.

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