How to Choose the Right Nails and Screws for Your Woodworking Project

To ensure the success of all your carpentry projects, be sure to choose the right nails and screws for the task.

Nails come in many guises for all sorts of different jobs, though some are easier to find than others. Before looking at them all, a few general points are worth considering

The first is strength Friction is what makes a nail grip, so long thick nails provide a better grip than short thin ones. Another factor is the shape of the nail’s shank; on the whole, nails with specially shaped shanks are strongest, and cut nails are stronger than wire nails.

Cut nails cause fewer splits than wire nails because, being blunt, they break the wood fibres and create their own holes, while wire nails merely force the fibres apart

Nails aren’t very attractive The standard method of hiding them is to punch their heads below the surface of the wood and fill the resulting hollows with stopping But if you’re securing such things as carpet, fabric or roofing felt, the large head found on most tacks and roofing nails is essential to hold the material in place.

scews and nails How to Choose the Right Nails and Screws for Your Woodworking Project

Finally, think about rust. In most indoor work ordinary mild steel nails are fine but outdoors, you need a nail with more rust resistance. Normally this means a galvanised nail, but other rust-resisting finishes are available – and you can also get nails made entirely from metals that don’t rust at all, such as brass, copper and even bronze. Buying nails

When buying nails, remember they re described by length rather than diameter. Also, though it may be sensible (if more expensive) to buy small amounts in packets and boxes, it’s more economical to buy loose nails sold by weight, not quantity.

General-purpose nails Round wire nails are used only for rough carpentry. They’re available plain or galvanised, in lengths from 20 to 150 mm.

Oval wire nails are used in all types of general woodwork. Lengths are as for round wire nails; galvanised types are also available.

Lost head nails are often used instead of ovals. Lengths range from 12mm to 150mm; you’ll find plain or galvanised finishes.

Cut floor brads are traditional fixings for floorboards Lengths range from 20 to 150mm; they have a plain finish.

Cut clasp nails are used for rough fixings in wood, and in masonry if it’s not too hard. Lengths range from 25mm to 100mm (1 to 4in).

Masonry Nails are specially hardened to make a reasonably strong fixing in brickwork and the like. Twisted shanks grip better than plain ones. They come in various gauges (thicknesses) and in lengths from about 12 to 100mm.

Plasterboard nails used for fixing plasterboard to ceilings and stud walls, are similar but have a jagged shank for extra grip.

Panel pins are slim versions of the lost-head nail, used in fine work for fixing mouldings and the like. Lengths range from 12 to 50mm.

Moulding pins and veneer pins are still thinner lost-head nails and are used for fixing thin lippings and mouldings. Lengths range from 12 to 25mm.

Specialised nails Hardboard pins are for fixing hardboard. Their diamond-shaped heads burrow into the surface as the pin is driven home. Most have a coppered finish; lengths are from 10 to 38mm.

Sprigs, also called cut brads, are mainly used for holding glass in window frames. Normally plain, lengths range from 12 to 19mm.

Cut tacks have large flat heads for holding fabric and carpet in place. Finishes are blued, coppered or galvanised; lengths range from 6 to 30mm.

Roofing nails are used for fixing corrugated roofing sheets. One is used with curved washers; the other has a special sprung head. Both are usually galvanised. Lengths range from 63 to 112mm.

Staples are used to fix wire fencing, upholstery springs and the like, and are either galvanised or plain Lengths range from 12 to 40mm.

Annular nails have ribs along the shank to prevent them pulling out, and are used for fixing sheet materials Lengths range between 25 and 75mm (1 to 3in); finishes are plain steel or coppered.

Clout nails have extra-large heads which make them ideal for fixing roofing felt, slates, sash window cords and so on. Lengths range from 12 to 50mm; most are galvanised.


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