nails are known variously as Ring Nails, Bronze Boat Nails, Silicon
Shank Nails, gripfast and several other brand names.
These boat nails are renowned for their holding power.
But what if you need to get them out?
“I grew to judge every purchase by how many bronze screws I could buy for the boat if I didn't spend on this or made do without that.”
The main factors governing the withdrawal resistance of nails are,
The wood density,
The nail diameter,
The depth it penetrates.
The length of time the nail is in the wood.
How the nail is driven, in relation to the grain of the
driven into the end grain for instance will easily pull out.
Several methods have been tried in order to improve the holding
The most successful of these
for the wooden boat builder
must be the Silicon Bronze Ring Nail.
The silicon bronze offers a
high degree of corrosion
resistance, it is without doubt the metal of choice for wooden boats
This combined with the rings
or barbs give these nails a
tenacious holding strength.
They are often used in plywood
frame construction and for planking and decking.
Nails are sized by wire gauge,
the bigger the number the
thinner is the nail.
As these nails are somewhat
brittle the ends cannot be
And this also means that they
need to have pre-bored
holes slightly smaller than the nail gauge, especially in
Removing Ring Nails
of their superb
holding strength ring nails
will be almost impossible to remove without damaging the
There are a few techniques
which can be tried.
In softwoods it is possible to
wriggle or rock the nail,
using a tack-puller.
This effectively enlarges the
hole slightly until it
releases its grip on the nail.
If it is possible to get a
hacksaw blade between the two
fastened pieces, then the nail could be cut.
The next option is to drill
off the head and either try
prising the pieces apart, or use a punch to drive the nail further
If you are removing a damaged
or rotten plank, another
method is to use a hole-saw or plug cutter to cut around the nail.
Which brings us back to the choice of fasteners when you first
Consider whether or not you
might need to remove the
fastenings in the near future before deciding on ring nails.
One of my earlier jobs on
Mignonne was to replace both
I used gripfast nails to
fasten the new ones to the keel,
hopefully they won’t need replacing for a long tome to come.
However, I have since read of
one design where the
garboards were screwed in place.
Initially it was done because
there wasn’t enough
space to allow for riveting.
But the extra benefit is that
the garboards can be
removed easily for repairs or just to clean the bilges.
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