Traditional hand-forged nails feature a gently tapering shank with four sharp edges. When driven into timber they part the fibres without splitting them, allowing the fibres to close back around the nail, producing a very fast fixing, four edges allowing a much greater grip through increased friction. Additionally, as hand forged iron is very ductile, the nail will often follow the grain through the wood, sometimes bending round to form an arced clench inside the timber, making the fixing extremely tight. Modern wire nails will often split the grain, especially if they are round rather than oval, offering less holding power.
Due to its low carbon content, wrought iron does not corrode easily but the beating it undergoes during the forging process increases its density thereby making it more water resistant and even less prone to corrosion. Traditional wrought iron is now difficult to obtain so modern day blacksmiths use mild steel, which has a higher carbon content. However there is a wide variety of coatings and finishes available providing not only a pleasing visual alternative to traditional iron nails but also allows them to be used in a wide range of applications both inside and more importantly, outside in the elements.
Hand-forged rosehead nails provide a decorative yet, because of the superior holding power they afford, totally functional alternative to mass-produced wire nails. In many cases they are better than the modern alternative as hand-forging allows a limitless number of bespoke designs to be produced so there’s no need to restrict their use to restoration work or architectural decoration.