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How To Use Nails

Nov 27, 2007
Nails may look like simple things but in fact, there are dozens of different types, each suited to a particular job. Knowing the right one to use will help to make sure your work is fixed properly - and permanently.

Nailing is quick - you do not have to make elaborate preparations to do it - and nails are still the cheapest way of joining tow pieces of wood together. Unfortunately 'hammer and nails carpentry' is often used as a derogatory term when in fact correctly used, nail provide a perfectly sound joint.

For instance, there is nothing slipshod in nailing palings to a fence. Screws would be impractical, not just they are more expensive and time-consuming to use, but because you would not get a better job - the fence certainly would not last any longer.

Nails are most frequency associated with woodwork, yet they are also the standard as well as a number of other specialist jobs. Head size and shape can be matched to the job in hand, as can the finish - although are made of a mild steel wire, they are often coated to prevent rustling, usually by galvanizing or sherardizing.

Before buying any nails, you must yourself the following questions:

What type of nail do I need?

This is governed by the materials your are fixing. For example if you are doing rought constructional wood work or outdoor jobs your would use round wire nails; for planed timber that is to be painted, finer oval wire nails would be a better choice, and so on.

What size of nail do I want?

Nail size is usually expressed as a length. The length you choose is mostly a matter of judgement, but a rule of thumb is that the nail should be three times as long as the thickness of the timber it is fixing. The thickness of the nail is generally related to its length although varying thickness is available. It is as well to check - you do not want a thin, spindly nail if you are fixing think boards; and equally, a think nail could split thin boards.

How many will I need?

This governs the way you buy the nails. If you only need a few of one type then a prepack will probably be the most convenient, but is usually the most expensive option. Otherwise nails are normally sold loose and by weight, this works out much cheaper. But if you do by nails in this way remember to label them and pack the so they are kept clean, otherwise they will soon corrode and they can be tedious to sort out the size once they have been mixed.

There are of course many different nail types such as a Clout nail, a Flooring brad and a masonry nail. Don't worry however, we will be covering them all soon in a future article.

In summary a lot of using a hammer and nail is very much common sense, not rushing and stopping to think about a job, before wading in with a big hammer. Remember the old saying of measure twice cut once.
About the Author
Johan Nickson is a bahco expert.
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