What are Clavos Nails

What are Clavos Nails: Unveiling Their Origins, Tracing Their History, and Defining Their Purpose



What is a Clavos Nail?

A Clavos nail, commonly known simply as 'Clavos', is a decorative nail used to adorn wooden furniture, doors, and shutters. Available in various shapes and sizes, each Clavos consists of a slender nail attached, usually by brazing or soldering, to a decorative head. Predominantly made from mild steel, Clavos can also be fashioned from non-ferrous materials such as brass or stainless steel.


The Origin and Meaning of 'Clavos'

'Clavos' derives from Spanish, meaning 'nails' or 'spikes'. Although mainly ornamental, with limited structural capability, Clavos may fasten fabric or leather to furniture. They are prominent in Spain, Latin America, and particularly in Mexico, reflecting a rich cultural heritage.


The Various Types of Clavos Nails

Clavos nails vary widely in design, often influenced by local customs. Artisans are free to impart their distinct styles to each creation.


Round Clavos

Often the most traditional design, they come in different head sizes and may feature smooth, dimpled, or etched surfaces.


Square Clavos

Square-headed for a contemporary look, these can appear diamond-shaped when affixed at an angle.


Pyramid Clavos

Characterised by a square base tapering to a point, they offer a striking pyramid effect.

Hammered Clavos

The hammered texture on these nail heads provides a naturally weathered appearance that contributes to their character.


Fleur-de-lis Clavos

With a name meaning 'lily flower' in French, this intricate design is typically cast, denoting its historical significance in heraldry and decorative arts.


Decorative Uses for Clavos Nails

Primarily ornamental, Clavos nails add character, style, and uniqueness to various items. They are frequently found enhancing doors, shutters, gates, and fences, and are used to secure fabric and leather in furniture, contributing to a rustic aesthetic.


Clavos on Garage Doors and Shutters

Clavos transform ordinary wooden surfaces into visually engaging features. Their designs often echo local cultural traditions. 

Frequently Asked Questions About Clavos

  • What are Clavos nails? They are primarily decorative nails, originating from Spain and widely used in Latin America, particularly Mexico.
  • What materials are Clavos nails typically made from? Commonly crafted from mild steel, they can also be created using brass, cast iron, stainless steel, and zinc.
  • How are Clavos nails installed? Installation typically involves hammering them into place. To prevent damage, it is advisable to drill a pilot hole and use a hammer with a soft striking surface, like a copper hide hammer.
  • What are the different styles or designs of Clavos nails available? Styles range widely, with popular designs including Round, Square, Pyramid, Hammered, Star, Flower, and Fleur-de-Lis.
  • Where are Clavos nails commonly used in home décor? Most often used on front doors, shutters, and garden gates, they also secure upholstered leather and fabric on furniture.
  • Are there specific considerations for using Clavos nails outdoors? Material compatibility is crucial; for example, a mild steel nail in an oak door may react with the wood's tannins, causing streaks. However, mild steel nails may develop a patina that enhances their rustic charm.
  • Are Clavos nails suitable for DIY projects, or should they be installed by professionals? As decorative elements, Clavos can be installed with basic tools. However, consider the nail length to prevent it from protruding through the other side of the item it is affixed to.




Clavos nails are a small yet significant decorative feature with a rich history rooted in Spanish and Latin American culture. These ornamental elements are more than just embellishments; they are storytellers, carrying the weight of tradition and artistry from past to present. Whether utilised in DIY projects or professional installations, Clavos nails provide an aesthetic link to a storied past while adding beauty and uniqueness to modern design.


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