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The alpha nail
November 28, 2006 9:15 AM   Subscribe

"This is a major innovation...and in places that are affected by high winds and earthquakes, it looks like it's going to make a big difference." And it only adds about $15 to the cost of an average 2000 sq. ft. house - the Bostich HurriQuake nail.
posted by jaimev (42 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
Dammit. I just saw this too and you beat me too it. I thought it was fascinating how much different a nail makes.
posted by GuyZero at 9:19 AM on November 28, 2006


This is actually really interesting stuff. The things you learn. And also makes me greatful that I don't have to deal with earthquakes or hurricanes...
posted by slimepuppy at 9:32 AM on November 28, 2006


That is a serious nail. Cool post.
posted by blacklite at 9:38 AM on November 28, 2006


Top-notch technology. Cheap, effective, keeps people in their houses, environmentally smart, just great.

If, however, you want to avoid earthquakes and tornados you could come live in Scotland instead.
posted by imperium at 9:39 AM on November 28, 2006


Link to the main nail page with an actual picture and all that. I have to repeat myself: that is a serious nail.
posted by blacklite at 9:40 AM on November 28, 2006


This should stop all those pesky vampires.

"Make the last nail in your coffin a HurriQuake®, and you'll never rise again!"
posted by CynicalKnight at 9:49 AM on November 28, 2006


Well that's Global Warming effectively countered.
posted by Artw at 9:52 AM on November 28, 2006


If, however, you want to avoid earthquakes and tornados you could come live in Scotland instead.

ALL of us? (We'll be right over.)
posted by Devils Rancher at 10:00 AM on November 28, 2006


So if you drive one of these nails it, it's not coming out. So what happens if you make a mistake?

The initial cost is cheap, but mistakes become much more costly when using this thing.
posted by ruthsarian at 10:12 AM on November 28, 2006


So what happens if you make a mistake?

With great nails comes great responsibility, ruthsarian.
posted by maryh at 10:26 AM on November 28, 2006 [1 favorite]


Yes, we should avoid making life- and property-saving improvements in case they fall into the hands of incompetent construction workers.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 10:29 AM on November 28, 2006


Time magazine named the horridly named HurriQuake nail as one of the top inventions 0f 2006.
posted by bz at 10:29 AM on November 28, 2006


We needed a way to lock the top of the shank into the sheathing,” says Sutt, who attacked the problem in a series of brainstorming sessions with his engineers. Their solution: a screw-shank,

So there you have it folks; the ultimate nail is, in fact, a screw.

I kid. This is really neat
posted by quin at 10:34 AM on November 28, 2006


I've never been so excited about a nail in my life! And yes, you can quote that, viral marketing people.
posted by XMLicious at 10:36 AM on November 28, 2006


imperium, Scotland's Europe's windiest country, and it sits on several fault lines.
posted by scruss at 10:39 AM on November 28, 2006


for further reading on recent innovations in fastener technology try here (PDF)
posted by Dr. Twist at 10:40 AM on November 28, 2006


I'd hit it.
posted by NationalKato at 10:41 AM on November 28, 2006 [1 favorite]


I'll be darned. It's... a better nail. It will prevent houses from falling down, and it will add a negligible amount to the costs of construction. This is a really cool thing, and I have nothing snarky to say about it.
posted by Faint of Butt at 10:41 AM on November 28, 2006


Uh, galvanized twist shank nails have been around since forever.
posted by scheptech at 10:49 AM on November 28, 2006


But this one is also ribbed for your pleasure.
posted by GuyZero at 10:54 AM on November 28, 2006


What a great story--- the inventor's biography, and the thought that went into the engineering of this nail.

I lived in the Virgin Islands for a bit, and the damage from a bad hurricane like Marilyn or Hugo is visible for decades. What a difference this invention might make.

Of course, contractor incompetence is probably a big problem there too, so maybe they just won't build anything anymore. Still, this seems like a good thing.
posted by ibmcginty at 10:58 AM on November 28, 2006


Not surprisingly, very unimpressive. You can't patent square cut nails, so no sense using them to protect yourself from a hurricane..
posted by Chuckles at 11:00 AM on November 28, 2006


That nail is awesome.
posted by graventy at 11:08 AM on November 28, 2006


Part of the problem is the wood used today is very soft, our old farm house is framed with oak, you can't pull a regular nail out with a crowbar (the head pulls off first). When ever I build stuff I just use drywall (or deck) screws (and those you can remove).
posted by 445supermag at 11:14 AM on November 28, 2006


Well that's Global Warming effectively countered.

Wait 20 years, we'll see a HurriQuake 2.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:15 AM on November 28, 2006


Okay, I'm wrong, it is perfectly impressive, just nothing at all like a revolution. Nice, you combined three pre-existing ideas into one product. Good show old chap!

It is just that I couldn't care less about the astonishing tenacity and rugged individualism of the sole inventor. Lets talk about the technical aspects of how this fastener compares to the three component designs, or why it is a better choice than screws.
posted by Chuckles at 11:29 AM on November 28, 2006


Great product! I am still making repairs b/c of Kunt-rina. This would have prolly been cheaper than the fancy screws that I used to put my fence back together. The 1st time, I used ring-shank nails and they held up really good. What killed the fence and laid it down nicely was, the bolts that go through the poles sheared and a majority of the galvanized poles snaped at the concrete base from all of the flexing and bending. I would gladly add these to my arsenal of fasteners.
posted by winks007 at 11:31 AM on November 28, 2006


... our old farm house is framed with oak, you can't pull a regular nail out with a crowbar."
I always thought that you couldn't use iron nails in oak because the tannic acid in the wood will corrode nails; you have to use dowels as fasteners.I read it in one of those mid-20th-century "things a boy should know" books (I was a boy in the middle of the 20th c. at the time). Those books where they describe "mumblety-peg" and that tool to remove stones from horses' hooves. Did they lie to this impressionable young mind?
posted by phliar at 11:50 AM on November 28, 2006


Chuckles-

First, it's a nail, not a screw, so the differences between nails and screws still apply. Most home construction is done with a pneumatic hammer or nailgun, not with a traditional hammer. So square nails aren't efficient because they take up too much time to drive in, and that increase co-nstruction cost substantially.

Screws are great, but suffer the same problem - too long to drive in, even with a drill, compared to a nailgun. A nail can be driven in to beam in an instant. A screw takes several seconds. Multiply that over the number of screws you'd need, and you can see the benefits of improving nails rather than switching to screws.
posted by Pastabagel at 11:54 AM on November 28, 2006


Chuckles: I can see how a square nail (with which I'm quite familiar, working on 19th century buildings) can resist shear better than modern nails, but I don't see how it holds up to the withdrawal or even the pop-through problem. I know that when I'm ripping off sheathing held in place with square nails, it's easier to pull the material past the nail than it is to dig in and grab the nailhead.

So what happens if you make a mistake?

The article addresses that -- they know that construction workers will hate them for this reason. Contractors might have to indulge in a little better training, too, which can't be a bad thing. From where I sit the construction industry has really regressed toward the mean in terms of individual trades skills -- try getting a brick wall properly tuckpointed these days. You can't. You get mortar that oozes out like it's the inside of a firewall, even if it's an historic and attractive front porch or the interior of a loft.

our old farm house is framed with oak, you can't pull a regular nail out with a crowbar

Even 19th century pine is concrete-hard compared with modern fast-growth construction pine. The soft wood is lighter, cheaper, and easier to work with, but obviously lacks comparative strength. 19th century structures don't usually get their roofs peeled off like canned anchovies.

Wait 20 years, we'll see a HurriQuake 2.

There already is. RTFA.

As for the maps, the obvious combined risk isn't highest in the Gulf Coast but in the center of Tornado Alley, near the New Madrid fault -- i.e. Memphis-Cairo. That would seem to be an appropriate second market to open up.


For want of a nail the shoe was lost.
For want of a shoe the horse was lost.
For want of a horse the rider was lost.
For want of a rider the battle was lost.
For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.

posted by dhartung at 12:28 PM on November 28, 2006


This is really cool - you get the best of all worlds in one nail. Ring shanks or screw shanks are great for resisting pullout , but the indentations make the shear (side-to-side) strength less because they make the nail diameter smaller. They've figured out a way to leave a full smooth shank at the sheathing level.

The large full head (not clipped) in a gun nail is cool, too. I'll be curious to see how that works. Maybe they're just collated farther apart?
posted by Benny Andajetz at 12:38 PM on November 28, 2006


Even 19th century pine is concrete-hard compared with modern fast-growth construction pine. The soft wood is lighter, cheaper, and easier to work with, but obviously lacks comparative strength.

Old heart pine ( Eastern Longleaf - once abundant, now extinct for all practical purposes) is concrete-hard compared to oak.

The problem with modern farmed wood is the trees are allowed to grow too fast. If you look at a piece of wood, you'll see alternating light and dark layers. In old growth trees the rings are thin, and in farmed trees they are wide-especially the light rings. Farmed trees don't have to compete for resources, and can grow at much faster rates than "wild" trees.The dark rings are winter wood, and the light rings are summer wood. The summer wood is much less dense and strong as the winter wood because the tree is growing faster and the individual wood cells are bigger. Ergo, lumber from farmedd trees is much weaker. As and added bonus, pests generally only eat summer wood, so farmed wood is also much more susceptible to critters.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 12:49 PM on November 28, 2006


I have heard it said that houses built by amateur labor (like Habitat for Humanity projects) weather hurricaines much better than comparable pro-built houses, because the amateurs tend to use "too many" nails.

Conventional nails are awfully cheap. Wouldn't it be possible to get about the same effect - without the complications - by doubling or tripling the number of conventional nails used?
posted by Western Infidels at 2:04 PM on November 28, 2006


The article addresses that -- they know that construction workers will hate them for this reason. Contractors might have to indulge in a little better training, too, which can't be a bad thing.

Even with better training, mistakes will happen. For one thing, even if these nails do become the industry standard for wood construction, there are a lot of elements that framers will build that aren't permanent--temporary falsework, braces, and things like that. So they'll have to have more than one kind of nail on the jobsite for different types of work, which just adds to the fuck-up-ability with people being able to use the wrong nail for the job. Also, I used to work in custom residential construction, and with the amount of changes owners make to their houses during construction, I don't think most of our framers would use those nails if you paid them to. If you're on a blow-n-go job doing a major housing development, that might be a different matter, but there are always construction changes.
posted by LionIndex at 2:10 PM on November 28, 2006


Kunt-rina

Take that!
posted by sonofsamiam at 2:17 PM on November 28, 2006


Who the hell uses nails for roofing these days, in high wind areas? That is so not cyclone compliant!
posted by wilful at 2:40 PM on November 28, 2006


SOS, with her attitude - can you blame me? We calls em' as we sees em'. BTW, I DO NOT live in New Orleans. A bit west of her 6 miles or so. Still had 16k in damages to a 100k structure. Enough work for a do-it-yourselfer to last lets see....14 months so far. Property is 50' x 169.11 that is a lot of cedar fencing. She also claimed some shingles, a couple of windows and a ton of drought resistant gardening. A tree, some cyclone (hurricane) fencing. My whirly-bird. NO WATER DAMAGE THOUGH!
posted by winks007 at 2:49 PM on November 28, 2006


Wilful, what would you use for sealtab shingles that you MUST nail or you void your warranty. Staples = no warranty.
posted by winks007 at 2:57 PM on November 28, 2006


So they'll have to have more than one kind of nail on the jobsite for different types of work, which just adds to the fuck-up-ability with people being able to use the wrong nail for the job.

Sawzall?

Really, I'm serious. There are nearly limitless construction actions which are irreversible and potentially difficult or expensive to undo. As a homeowner, I'm not really concerned with that, as I expect the job to be done right the first time, so that I have a house that will outlast the next Katrina.

I don't think most of our framers would use those nails if you paid them to

There's always work further down the coast, right? Do it right or walk, for fuck's sake. I see the problem, but I wouldn't be sympathetic if I were paying for it.

Kunt-rina

Miszephyrist.
posted by dhartung at 3:29 PM on November 28, 2006


dhartung, I think you're misunderstanding me--construction changes in my experience are mostly driven by the owner making changes to the plans (like, moving a bathroom or something after it's already been built and then having to tear up framing and retrench plumbing lines; or something similar) rather than the contractor screwing up. Which means that if they're using these kinds of nails, that'll just end up increasing labor and material costs by having to sawzall everything out; since the changes are owner-driven, the cost will get passed directly to the owner, plus a 15% markup.

If they end up using the wrong nail or building something wrong, it'll just add to construction time. If stuff like that happens over and over again, it'll seriously eat into a contractor's bottom line. If complications with the nails become a consistent cost issue, contractors will just start raising their bids for framing, since they know they'll eventually have additional labor and material costs.
posted by LionIndex at 3:38 PM on November 28, 2006


It seems like the product already exists under the name of Anular Nail. Reinventing the wheel (Patent Pending) ? Hot water (Patent Granted) ?
posted by elpapacito at 5:23 PM on November 28, 2006


LionIndex, I'm a contractor and carpenter, and my initial reaction was the same as yours. But I'm reading that this is a specialty fastener for roof decking and structural sheathing only - it's an 8d nail and not a 16d framer. On my jobs, we already use different nails for sheathing than for framing, still others nails for lap siding, and of couse, there's the finish work, too. Anytime I need more than one type of nail handy, I just load up a second gun to keep close by.

So after thinking, these probably aren't going to be a pain in the ass after all. We're using different fasteners for different applications anyway; these would just replace the sheathing nails we've been using. (But yeah, I definitely don't want to use 'em to temp anything.)
posted by lost_cause at 8:56 PM on November 28, 2006


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