Lee Valley Tools Woodworking Newsletter
Vol. 2, Issue 5
May 2008
From the Collection

Cobbler's Nail Cups

Cobbler's nail cup

In construction of the earliest footwear, the maker used a wooden peg to affix the sole and the heel to the body of the shoe or boot. Each generally fabricated his own stock of pegs. With the appearance of better manufacturing processes, small nails, tacks and brads could be made in a consistent manner. They came in a myriad of sizes, necessitating a coherent storage system that allowed for easy access.

The nail cups shown in these pictures are from two manufacturers—the larger is marked with "Universal Shoe Machinery", the smaller with "C.S.L. Nail Cup"—yet they are essentially the same. Another popular brand was the Star nail cup. Made of cast iron, the six to eight compartments sit on a rotating base. They were produced in many forms, including a two-tier model. A patent search has turned up only patent #551,997 by J.N. Parker. It appears that the cup portion became public domain and was manufactured by many sources.

Universal Shoe Machinery   C.S.L. Nail Cup

Now collectables, these items have been included in the woodworking newsletter because, similar to clamps where you cannot have too many, a sensible storage system is always needed in the workshop and this method still seems pertinent today.

D.S. Orr

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