Author Topic: Brass tacks  (Read 278 times)

Offline LongWalker

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Brass tacks
« on: November 03, 2019, 09:41:00 pm »
Does anyone have a source for brass tacks--not the brass-plated tacks that are seemingly everywhere, but tacks with a solid brass head and steel shank (or better yet, cast as one piece of solid brass)?  Can't seem to find any, and the plated tacks are less than worthless for my purposes. 

thanks,
Jim
In my book a pioneer is a man who turned all the grass upside down, strung bob-wire over the dust that was left, poisoned the water, cut down the trees, killed the Indian who owned the land and called it progress.  Charles M. Russell


Offline wildman1

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Re: Brass tacks
« Reply #2 on: November 04, 2019, 08:27:04 am »
I usually find them in hobby shops or stores. They are real brass not plated.
wM1
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Offline Tascosa Joe

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Re: Brass tacks
« Reply #3 on: November 07, 2019, 11:53:58 am »
Several years back there was a store on Broadway in Denver that catered to American Indian Crafts and Mountain man items.  Beads etc.  I wish I could remember the name of the place, and they may no longer be in business.  As a few years back has grown into 30+ years.  Time flies when you get old.
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Offline Kent Shootwell

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Re: Brass tacks
« Reply #4 on: November 07, 2019, 01:01:18 pm »
Having seen brass tacks used on scabbards and such now I wonder how? The front side is shown but not the back, I can?t believe they?re just bent over. Anyone have a good picture of how they are used.
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Re: Brass tacks
« Reply #5 on: November 07, 2019, 05:30:29 pm »
Several years back there was a store on Broadway in Denver that catered to American Indian Crafts and Mountain man items.  Beads etc.  I wish I could remember the name of the place, and they may no longer be in business.  As a few years back has grown into 30+ years.  Time flies when you get old.

Ah My Dear Joe -

That would be
Orr's Trading Company,
3422 South Broadway
Englewood, CO 80113
303.722.6466

http://www.orrs.com/?viewfullsite=1

still in business and going strong! We always stop by when we are in Denver,
I really like their selection of hides, beeds, sweetgrass, & etc. 

I am  especially entranced by the smaller pieces of hair-on buffalo.

I haven't seen solid brass tacks for some time...

yhs
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Offline Coal Creek Griff

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Re: Brass tacks
« Reply #6 on: November 08, 2019, 05:17:10 pm »
Having seen brass tacks used on scabbards and such now I wonder how? The front side is shown but not the back, I can?t believe they?re just bent over. Anyone have a good picture of how they are used.

I was hoping that someone who knew what they were talking about would jump in and answer.  Alas, you have me instead, although maybe this will prompt someone to give a correct answer.

I believe that the brass spots used in leather working are different from the brass tacks that may be hammered into wood.  They have tabs on the back that are indeed bent over, but they aren't long and sharp like a tack would be.  They may look like brass tacks on the outside, but are actually different items.  Below is a photo off of the internet.

Am I correct in my understanding?

CC Griff
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Offline Tsalagidave

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Re: Brass tacks
« Reply #7 on: November 08, 2019, 09:01:20 pm »
Look for square-shanked brass furniture tacks, identical to those used in the construction of seating and travel trunks. It should be a single square shank that you seat with your thumb and can easily drive home with a small wood mallet.

It's possible that the dual shank brass studs from leatherworking may have been used but I have only seen single square shank tacks on original pieces, but not studs. I would use antique furniture tacks.

-Dave
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Offline LongWalker

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Re: Brass tacks
« Reply #8 on: November 08, 2019, 09:22:36 pm »
I was hoping that someone who knew what they were talking about would jump in and answer.  Alas, you have me instead, although maybe this will prompt someone to give a correct answer.

I believe that the brass spots used in leather working are different from the brass tacks that may be hammered into wood.  They have tabs on the back that are indeed bent over, but they aren't long and sharp like a tack would be.  They may look like brass tacks on the outside, but are actually different items.  Below is a photo off of the internet.

Am I correct in my understanding?

CC Griff
Griff, I've seen "harness spots" like those in catalogs shortly before 1900, but not in any of the few pre-1890 catalogs I've paged through.  Chuck Burrows said they came into use on a limited basis in the 1860s, but I don't know his source for that.  I've not seen them prior to sometime in the 1880s.

Historic use of brass tacks for scabbards and belts appears to have depended on the tacks and the thickness of the leather.  The tacks were just re-purposed upholstery tacks of the period.

Old-style cast brass tacks (one piece head-and-shank, with usually square or rectangular shanks) were hammered through the leather and folded over, or clipped and hammered flat.  If the leather was thin enough/shank long enough, they were sometimes clinched: the tip bent, then the nail bent and the tip hammered in, like a doornail.  Most of the Indian stuff I've seen them used on, the shanks were clipped and bent over, then hammered flat.

When the steel shank tacks came in (1860 or so, IIRC), they were clipped and bent over.  I've only seen one (pre-1890) piece on which they were clenched.  Post 1900, clenching seems more common. 

When I use steel-shank tacks, I tend to clinch them if the shank is long enough (if not, I bend them over).  In order to do this, you sometimes have to anneal the shanks.  I set the heads in wet sand, then hit the shanks with a torch til they are red hot.  When they cool, you have dead soft shanks on tacks that need to be polished. 

If you use plated tacks, they tend to discolor the leather or wood over time. 

There used to be a source of cast tacks, but they've stopped carrying them and were unable to suggest a source.  Back in '86 I bought >10,000 steel-shank brass tacks.  I traded off a couple thousand, and in the years since have used up my stash.  Past 18 months have found me buying supposed "brass" tacks, only to learn that the tacks were plated.  As soon as the order arrives, I'll give a report on the tacks from the source Abilene found (thanks, BTW--I'd not seen that one!).
In my book a pioneer is a man who turned all the grass upside down, strung bob-wire over the dust that was left, poisoned the water, cut down the trees, killed the Indian who owned the land and called it progress.  Charles M. Russell

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Re: Brass tacks
« Reply #9 on: November 09, 2019, 01:09:27 am »
The method is called "clinching." steel shank is annealed, tack nailed thru leather, then bent over and driven back flush.

Same as a doornail. Once clinched, a nail is nearly impossible to remove.
Thus the expression "dead as a doornail".

Opps Longwalker already posted everything you need!

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Offline Mogorilla

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Re: Brass tacks
« Reply #10 on: November 09, 2019, 08:53:47 am »
Crazy Crow has an instruction pdf on making a rawhide sheath with brass tacks.  If you need pictures try there.  Otherwise Longwalker is spot on.   Sorry could not resist
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Offline Coal Creek Griff

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Re: Brass tacks
« Reply #11 on: November 09, 2019, 10:53:04 am »
See? I knew that others with more knowledge would set me straight. Thanks, fellas!

CC Griff
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Offline Kent Shootwell

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Re: Brass tacks
« Reply #12 on: November 09, 2019, 01:23:19 pm »
Well thanks to all. I?m a bit smarter today. Mogorilla, the Crazy Crow tip was most helpful.
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Offline Tascosa Joe

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Re: Brass tacks
« Reply #13 on: November 09, 2019, 02:44:31 pm »
I always bent mine over in a slight arc and clinched the point of the tack back into the leather.  Also you might try Jas Townsend and Son.
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Offline absolom grimes

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Re: Brass tacks
« Reply #14 on: November 11, 2019, 02:50:12 pm »
Some years ago. I had the chance to clear an old horse tack room out on a local farm. The leather and woodwork were well beyond redemption, but I managed to salvage a not inconsiderable quantity of the original tacks holding the leather work onto the wooden shafts etc. A possibility if you ask around or put out a want add.