I'm planning to use some galvanized steel spike-nails for an outdoor project. I'd use seven inch nails and Nine Inch Nails* for the project, but I can't find them in odd sizes. So, my idea is to buy ten inch nails and saw them down to the desired lengths.

The catch is that sawing the nails would leave a large surface of steel without the galvanizing. Without the protective zinc, will that bare steel rust?

I know from chemistry that any zinc that's electrically connected to iron should protect the iron through cathodic protection, but does practical experience match the science? In other words, will the bare iron rust even though it's not supposed to?

* Capitalization intentional for comic relief.

  • 1
    Cutting a nail will only expose the end and even if you re sharpen after cutting it will be in the wood so I would not worry about a small area rusting away, I use large gutter spikes to hold down old conveyor belt on the ground. I sharpen the spikes so they cut through the belting easier and drive them in I have not had one rust off but they may be slightly shorter as the tip rusted on the few I have pulled to replace dammaged sections. some of these spikes have been in the ground for over 10 years and to tell the truth the heads show more rust from being walked on by people and horses.
    – Ed Beal
    Feb 15, 2018 at 14:39
  • will that bare steel rust? .... of course bare steel rusts
    – jsotola
    Feb 15, 2018 at 18:05
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    I would assume that the Nine Inch Nails wouldn't rust, however degrade in a more biologic decomposing way, and assume they would not be up for the task anyway. LOL, that being said, yes it will rust, but that's just the tip, and any part that the galvanizing comes off, will rust. I bet the project will be re-vamp, replaced, or removed before this rusting would really affect the stability of the project.
    – Jeff Cates
    Feb 16, 2018 at 0:44

1 Answer 1


I don’t want to give you “The Slip” so I’m doing this “With Teeth” in, but even Kurt Cobain and the Foo Fighters knows that when you strike a galvanized coated nail with a hammer, some galvanizing comes off and the head of the nail will rust quicker than the rest of the nail. So, yes, it will rust when cut off.

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