Restoring historic windows is a passion of mine and it can be a very DIY friendly project for anyone who owns an old house. These old windows can last almost indefinitely if taken care of and properly maintained. That means that means they’ll last centuries longer than the newer replacement windows on the market.
I’ve written extensively on all the steps I take to restore old windows in previous posts and in my two books Old Window Made Easy and Old Window In-Depth both of which will walk you through the restoration process from start to finish.
Today, I wanted to write specifically about a new technique and what I think is a game changing tool in window restoration. It’s not often that the rules change in historic preservation, but I think that this is one of those rare moments and I am really excited to share it with you.
The New Tool
Beck Fasteners has been in the business of making tools for a long time. In fact, they were one of the first companies In the stapler business. But it was their newest innovation that I believe changes the window restoration game and that is the Beck F60 LignoLoc Pneumatic nailer.
Unlike any other nailer on the market that I have found the LignoLoc nailer shoots wooden nails! That’s right, no more metal fasteners to rust or worry about! And the nails have extraordinary holding power. In my own test the nails really grab onto the pieces and don’t let go.
Let me tell you why I believe this is a game changer. The advantages of a wood to wood connection vs metal to wood connection are numerous.
Wood is More Compatible
In the old days, windows used wood pegs to hold their joinery together. This a was a great system but very time consuming and once the industrial revolution was in full bore most sash makers switched to steel pins to hold their sash together for speed and to keep costs down.
Those benefits came with issues since steel and wood are dissimilar materials and rusting steel pins can cause damage and discoloration to the surrounding wood. Also the wood moves at different rates which can slowly work metal fasteners loose over time.
No More Nail Setting
What happens when you nail something and the nail doesn’t go quite home all the way? You use a nail set to slip it below the surface and then fill the hole.
Not with these wood nails. You can plane off the excess nail and sand everything smooth. You can even use longer nails than you need to trim the excess off which means more flexibility in picking nails for certain thicknesses of wood.
I just nail it, sand the surface, and don’t have to use wood filler unless I’ve overdriven my nails which can resolved with a few adjustments on the gun.
Do Wood Nails Hold Up?
These wood nails aren’t going to be used for framing houses yet, but in this size and application to me they are the best thing to happen to restoration since wood epoxy. They fit our model of sustainability and allow me to do work closer to what the historic woodworkers of old were doing.
I’ve nailed up several wood sash in my shop with these LignoLoc nails and tried to tear them apart without success. Of course nothing stands up to a sledge hammer, but the compressed beech wood nails have held up to my torment with class.
The beech wood doesn’t have quite the rot resistance of the old-growth lumber these sash were made from, but I think a quick dip in BoraCare after the repairs are complete will provide the protection they need to last the long haul.
What do you think? Is it time for wooden nails? Would you be willing to give them a try? Beck Fasteners was nice enough to provide me with the nailer and a couple boxes of nails to test out for this project. If you want to check out the tool for yourself you can check them out right here.
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I love old houses, working with my hands, and teaching others the excitment of doing it yourself! Everything is teachable if you only give it the chance.