Chapter 7.

7. The origins of nails, staples, screw fixings and bolts. 4/6.


Staples as a method of fixing are also an archaic form with the Romans forging a plethora of designs for all conceivable applications. The OED lists the earliest literary mention as being in 1295.

Staples were commonplace items used in conjunction with hasps and bolts for doors and strongboxes, ropes and chains and later for fixing iron nuts in place. In 1677 Moxon wrote " You must with square Staples, just fit to contain the Bolt with an easie play, fasten these staples, by rivetting them with the Bolt within them..to the Main-plate. "

Iron ties often are pierced to take nails and also shouldered or crimped to receive staples. Invariably these staples (Fig. 7.12) are of a square section (the type mentioned by Moxon above) and also have square shoulders. Staple is a term that can be applied to any U-shaped impact fixing but here is used uniquely to refer to the iron fixings used to secure the iron tie by passing across its width and sitting against a shoulder or in a rebate. They are driven into the timber and hence have sharp points. Undoubtedly the larger ones must have had pilot holes drilled for them in order to prevent the dry timber from splitting out or to make it possible to drive them in.

 Square section staples.

Fig 7.12. Two square-shouldered staples. The smaller is typical of those used to secure iron ties. The larger has been redeployed as a hinge.

Their form seems unchanged until the C20th when round section wire staples (Fig. 7.13) are used in place of the stronger square forged type. For creating a dating typology they are of dubious value within themselves but the form of the iron tie reflects changes in technology and availability of wrought iron.

Round section modern staple.

Fig 7.13. The Craft Barn at Cressing Temple, Essex. A modern iron tie from the 1950's is fastened with a round sectioned staple. The tie itself is of poor quality wrought iron and has corroded considerably.

7. Screws

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