My aunt found a bucket of these things while cleaning out the house. Neither she, my father nor I have any idea what they would be used for. The best way I can describe them is that they look like a cross between a zip tie and a nail.

They are semi-round, with one side being flat but having ridges like a zip tie. The head is slightly rounded and the point is more like a flat-head screw driver tip. The nail is 3 inches in length total. It looks a bit shorter in the image due to camera angle.

The only idea we had for their use would be like some kind of interlocking fastener. One from each side with the ridged edges lining up could create a fairly strong connection.

Zip tie like nail image

  • 1
    I am guessing a specialty upholstery nail. May 10, 2016 at 2:01
  • It is 3 inches long in total. I will try and get some better photos
    – kicken
    May 10, 2016 at 4:18
  • It looks like you could drive them in on opposite sides of the same hole and they would lock together very tightly. These are interesting.
    – JPhi1618
    May 10, 2016 at 14:26
  • What type of work did your uncle do? That might give a clue as to what they are. Can you post a clear photo of the head?
    – Tester101
    May 10, 2016 at 14:29
  • 1
    Maybe they are/were a utility-pole nail, used for signs or other brackets on telephone or utility poles. 3 inches = 10d. Looks like it's galvanized. Galvanized nails suggests outdoor use. May 10, 2016 at 16:22

1 Answer 1


This is a ring shank nail they have very good pullout strength , Added for those that don't have 35+ years experience. The Ring shank nails I used in the 70's were 100% except for the tip. No matter how many groves are on the nail it is a Ring Shank nail!. We used them on sub flooring to reduce squeaking and on some kinds of siding where there were big temperature changes that allowed glued sinkers and galvanized to pull out. Added 5/16/16- I did double check with my step dad (retired contractor) and he said they were called ring shank or step shank and there were 2 types but both had the head pulling off issue because of the way they were made. Both of the types 1/2 and double were not legal for long because of the head failure. This is probably why there is not much information on these nails. I remember them because they were so hard to drive straight even with a waffle hammer.

  • They are somewhat harder to drive, and a pain in the neck to pull deliberately, never mind accidentally.
    – keshlam
    May 10, 2016 at 1:40
  • Looking at images for ring shank nails show the ridges going around the entire nail, where as on these they are only on one half, the other half is smooth.
    – kicken
    May 10, 2016 at 1:58
  • 1
    @EdBeal Just because it was anecdotally called a 'ring shank' does not mean it actually is one, at least unless it said it on the box. May 10, 2016 at 10:29
  • 1
    @EdBeal Let's keep this conversation civil. There's no need for name calling or insults.
    – Tester101
    May 10, 2016 at 13:23
  • 1
    jagged or barbed shank. ring is close enough. Or just shanked.
    – Mazura
    May 10, 2016 at 14:02

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