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Seeking source for very small nails or pins

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I am seeking sources for very small nails or pins.  I am modelling a lapstrake hull at 1:24.

The nail heads @1:1 are 10 mm and the roves on the interior of the hull 19 mm (~0.75" / ~3/8").

At 1:24 these would be 0.79 mm and 0.42 mm, respectively (0.031" / 0.016").


My intention is to use a nail or pin head to simulate the rove and cut/sand the shank flush with the hull to simulate the nail head.  I'm confident the simulated roves will add proper detail to the interior of the model.  On the outside surface of the hull, I hope that with paint applied lightly enough, the simulated nail heads will still be barely visible - a slight texture variation, not out-of-scale, and more realistic than a perfectly smooth surface. [edit 16 Feb 2022 - I've noticed that on two extent vessels, Viktoria and Dan, the nail heads appear rounded and flush, respectively.  Either more or less visible nail heads are equally appropriate.]


I have some small pins that came in a box of stuff bought at an auction.  The head diameter is 0.028" and the shank 0.014".  This would be a scale error of -10% and -15%, respectively.  Reasonable. But I do not have enough to complete the model.



I found a source of scale rivets where the head diameter is 0.034" and the shank 0.016" - scale errors of +7% and -4%, respectively.  Closer to scale than the pins I have on hand




a) The heads are more spherical, and roves are shallow cones.  These might appear to rise above the surface too much.  I could chuck each pin into a rotary tool and sand the hemispheres into cones, but I'd have to do that 1200 times.  I might be crazy enough to do it, but I won't mind avoiding it. [edit 16 Feb 2022 - using Michael Bezverhny's technique (YouTube video mentioned below) the nail heads sometimes appear too rounded.  I found that just lightly sanding the tops after installation gives the proper impression, and that even with magnification it is difficult to tell the surfaces are flat and not shallow spherical sections]

b) They are $8 for a pack of 50 and $10 for shipping.  The total for what I need would be $210.  I'd prefer a less expensive option.





To make use of what I have on hand, or to reduce the cost of the rivets, I could only model the roves where they would be visible on the final model - the boat is not completely open.  Where the roves are not visible, I can simulate the nail heads with simple 26ga brass wire.  However, I like to take detailed photos of the entire process, and though it might sound foolish to you, I'd like each stage to look as realistic as possible.  I'm also thinking of future models.  I am very likely to build another lapstrake hull to the same scale, and will eventually need more.


So far I have found lots of nails, but none with a shank less than 0.7mm and heads over 1mm.  If you know of a source, I'd be grateful for the information.


Thanks for reading!

Edited by gkharrin
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Not sure this will help but check out the New England Stonington Dragger build log by Fried Clams  which has a lot of small parts including nuts and bolts.

Model railroad parts suppliers should also be a help.  


PLEASE take 30 SECONDS and sign up for the epic Nelson/Trafalgar project if you would like to see it made into a TV series.   Click on http://trafalgar.tv   There is no cost other than the 30 seconds of your time.  THANK YOU

Current Builds - HMS Litchfield 1695 - Scratch 1:64 HMS Boston 1762 -Scratch 1:196


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14 minutes ago, allanyed said:

Model railroad parts suppliers should also be a help

Thanks, Allan.  I saw railroad track pins suggested elsewhere, but what I found was too large and made of steel.  I'd prefer brass.  I appreciate the suggestion all the same, and I'll check the dragger build.

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13 minutes ago, vaddoc said:

I presume the shank is 0.6 mm, and I need 0.4 mm, but thank you anyway.

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I possible but time consuming answer:

Most any size brass or copper wire and a draw plate.

If you can get it to work, any diameter is obtainable.

A punch type devise can shape the nail heads.

I am imagining that copper might make for interesting hull planking trunnels.


Once, I was able to take a piece of thicker copper wire and draw it into a long piece of thin.  It did not take a lot of force.

Recently, I tried it and the wire fought back.

I think copper/brass react in a strange way. 

Heating it makes it softer?

Working it makes it stiffer?

Once a wire is drawn to the gauge that is desired, is there a way to make it hard enough to drive?

How did they make the now apparently extinct "brass lills" that MS sold in the '70's rigid enough to drive?


Amazon sells copper and brass beadsmith head pins 21 and 24 gauge. 

I measure the 24 gauge as needing a #76 wire gauge bit.

I have #12 brass sequin pins 0.75"  that gauge for a #73 wire bit.  The head is flat.  (Darice Craft Designer - www.darice.com - China - seems to be out of stock at present on a quick look.)

NRG member 45 years



HMS Centurion 1732 - 60-gun 4th rate - Navall Timber framing

HMS Beagle 1831 refiit  10-gun brig with a small mizzen - Navall (ish) Timber framing

The U.S. Ex. Ex. 1838-1842
Flying Fish 1838  pilot schooner -  framed - ready for stern timbers
Porpose II  1836  brigantine/brig - framed - ready for hawse and stern timbers
Vincennes  1825  Sloop-of-War  -  timbers assembled, need shaping
Peacock  1828  Sloop-of -War  -  timbers ready for assembly
Sea Gull  1838  pilot schooner -  timbers ready for assembly
Relief  1835  ship - timbers ready for assembly


Portsmouth  1843  Sloop-of-War  -  timbers ready for assembly
Le Commerce de Marseilles  1788   118 cannons - framed

La Renommee 1744 Frigate - framed - ready for hawse and stern timbers


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You can also make pins from brass rod then round one or both ends with a cup burr.  The shank will be  the same diameter as the head, but will be inside the part so unseen.   



PLEASE take 30 SECONDS and sign up for the epic Nelson/Trafalgar project if you would like to see it made into a TV series.   Click on http://trafalgar.tv   There is no cost other than the 30 seconds of your time.  THANK YOU

Current Builds - HMS Litchfield 1695 - Scratch 1:64 HMS Boston 1762 -Scratch 1:196


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@allanyed, @RobinB87

Thanks for the replies.  I could use a cup burr or Alexey's method if I were to use two pieces, one to simulate the rove on the inside, and another to simulate the nail head on the outside.  These are different diameters (at scale, 0.8 mm and 0.4 mm). The head on the outside will be flush with the planking, so I can simply stick the end of a wire half-way and snip it off.  On the inside, I'd have to drill a larger hole just part way through and cut the wire with the rounded end to the final length (~1 mm) before fitting it.  That would be pretty tedious.


If I can find the proper sized nail or pin, it will be much easier.  As noted above, I have found a proper sized pin, but I'm looking for a less expensive option.  I'll need over 1200 pins.  At $8 per 50, the ones from Model Motorcars will add up quickly.  If I must, I must...

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How about mixing epoxy with brass dust (sold on ebay) and then just touching the outer end of the 0.4 mm wire to leave a blob of 0.8 mm. 

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From an old pc processor.



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  • 11 months later...
On 2/20/2021 at 1:02 PM, RobinB87 said:

You can always make them by yourself, i think its a good workout to test you're patience 😅

Its only a suggestion 😉




Thank you for the excellent suggestion, @RobinB87.   I've settled on this solution and it is working well.  To get the proper diameters, I am doing this separately for both the roves (inside the hull) and nail heads (outside the hull).  For easier installation, I am adding them before affixing the planks to the model.  I have 2 planks (out of 10) installed on each side.  I'll add a build log sometime soon.

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A metalworkers trick to form a round head:  With a pair of pliers hold a straight piece of brass wire vertically in a flame.  Just before the wire melts it will form a spherical knob on the heated end.  The wire can then be inserted into a hole in a block of metal and lightly hammered to cold form the knob into a nail head.



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  • 5 months later...

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