Difference between revisions of "Nails"

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=Construction Nails=
=Construction Nails=
==Round Wire Nails==
==Round Wire Nails==

Revision as of 09:22, 11 February 2008


Construction Nails

Round Wire Nails

Planet Earth's most popular nails.

  • Low cost
  • Quick to use
  • Blunt the point with a hammer to reduce risk of splitting when nailing near an edge.

Oval Nails

As round wire nails, but:

  • Less likely to split wood
  • More likely to bend when hammered
  • Cost a bit more

Ring Shanked Nails

  • More resistance to pullout.
  • Used for wooden flooring
  • Often used with nail guns to compensate for thinner gauge nails


Smaller nails, under 1.25"

Masonry Nails

These can be hammered into masonry, unlike most other nails. They are hardened steel.

There is one problem with these. The masonry is hard, and does not want to be nailed. The Nail is hardened, and does not want to bend. Something has to give. What usually happens is the nail flies off repeatedly at unpredictable angles and at high speed. Eye protection is a must.

Some of the time they fly away with almost no resistance, so the travelling hammer head continues onto your fingers at almost full speed. Bear in mind these nails need to be hit relatively hard to get anywhere, and you can see why masonry nails are unpopular.

The solution is easy enough. Always hold the nail in pliers, always use eyewear, and don't let anyone without eyewear in the room when you're nailing.

Using pliers gets your hands out the way, and it also impedes the flying habit of the nails. They will still fly sometimes, but the friction from the pliers makes them fly slow instead of going off like unguided missiles.

Hammering a hardened nail hard against a hard substrate is also a recipe for splintering of the hammer head, another good reason for eyewear.

The better quality cable clip nails are small masonry nails. The plastic clip stops them flying freely.

Bent Nails

One trick for fixing to masonry is to drill a pilot hole and knock in a bent nail. The more bends in the nail, the better it'll grip.

  • Very effective for loads at 90 degrees
  • Pullout load resitance is lower
  • At last a use for 1% of those bent nails


Screws can also be used as nails.

  • Damage the wood to some extent
  • Good pullout resistance compared to most nails
  • Harder to drive
  • Prime app is nailing down chipboard flooring. The soft chip makes them hammerinnable, and the pullout resistance helps avoid creaking and lifted boards.


U shaped nails and [ shaped nails

  • Used primarily for wire fencing

Cut Clasp Nails

  • Cut from sheet metal
  • Tapered sides
  • Better grip in softer materials
  • The cut end tears the fibres of the wood on entry rather than pushing them apart, so they are much less likely to split the wood when used near an edge. Hence their popularity as floor board nails.

Square Twist Nails

  • Improved pullout resistance in spingy materials such as wood
  • Usually specified for use with joist hangers

Lost Head Nails

Nails with very small heads that are designed to be hammered flush with the surface or slightly countersunk. Once inserted they are almost invisible. Ideal for fixing decorative trim on furniture, and for temporary holding of parts while glue dries.

Grooved Nail

  • Less weight per nail

Spiral Nails

Look like twist drill bits

  • High pullout resistance in soft springy materials such as wood

Collated Nails

Designed for use in nail guns, they consist of a strip of nails glued side by side such that they can be autofed into the nailer. Some strips are simply held together with glue or lacquer. Bigger framing nails may be joined with glued paper or plastic strips. The strips are designed to break away from the nail as it is fired.

There are several types:

  • Round head - similar to conventional wire nails
  • clipped head - often used with nail strips designed for use in guns with a swept magazine like framing nailers. Typically a half moon section is missing from each nail head to enable the nail to slide past the next one in the strip more easily.
  • T shaped head - like mini cut clasp nails in a strip. Used for floorboard fixing, some masonry and roofing material fixing applications.

Casing nails

  • nails with a smaller head.
  • For flooring & other apps where large nail heads are not wanted.


Nails over 4" are called spikes

Nail Plates

A metal plate with many spikes formed on one side

  • For wood, mainly used in roofing structures
  • Extremely tough grip
  • Requires a press to insert them
  • Can a portable press be used?
  • Can a sledgehammer be used?
  • Spikeless nail plates are also available. These just have holes. Nails are hammered through the holes by hand.

Roofing Nails

Copper Nails

  • Used for fixing roofing slates
  • Less prone to corrosion than steel nails
  • Large heads
  • Cost more
  • Softer metal
  • Copper prevents lichen & moss growth, reducing cleaning requirements

Clout Nails

Short wide head nails

  • Used for felt roofing

Cone Head Nails

Metal & plastic roofing

Spring Head Nails


Plastic Head Nails

  • Soft plastic head
  • For plastic roofing, and fixing uPVC facias.


Panel Pins

Headless Pins

Headless or finish nails & pins have no head, minimising their visibility in the finished workpiece.

Special Purpose Nails

Carpet Tacks

  • The thin point on carpet tacks bends over when inserted, giving pullout resistance.
  • The dark head gives minimum visibility
  • The sharp point goes through carpet easily.
  • Tacked carpet has a vertically wavy edge if the carpet is folded over, or a raw cut edge if not. Neither is ideal.
  • Tacks can pierce wires or pipes
  • Tacks are cheaper to buy than gripper rod, but fitting is slower
  • Gripper rod is normally preferred.

Upholstery Pins

Other Nail Types

  • Bullethead nail
  • Corrugated nail
  • D head nails
  • Horseshoe nail
  • Hurriquake nail
  • Plastic strip nails
  • Gutter spikes
  • Fibre cement nails
  • Box nails - thinner than standard wire nails
  • CC nails - adhesive coated nails for better grip
  • Duplex nail - has a 2nd head for easier extraction
  • Veneer Pin


  • Steel
  • Stainless steel
  • Brass
  • Copper


  • Bright or BZP (bright zinc plated) steel.
  • Galvanised
  • Sheradised
  • Brassed
  • Coloured head


Finger survival

Holding nails in pliers increases average finger life. Alternatively hold between the sides of two fingers with the knuckles facing the work. If you do strike your fingers, it hurts much less.

Toe nailing

(Also called "Tosh nailing") Used for forming perpendicular joints in joinery like roofing and stud walls. Consists of nailing into the side of one piece of wood at around 45 degrees, such that the nail exits from the end grain of the wood and penetrates the wood to which the end is abbuted. Frequently used to fix vertical studs to the horizontal header or sole plate, and for fixing one end of noggings when they need to all be inline.

Oversize Nails

If the only nails you've got to hand are too long, as long as the width isnt excessive and appearance doesnt matter, insert the nail to the required depth then knock the head over sideways.

See Also

Wiki Contents

Wiki Subject Categories

Hammer Fixings




Nailgun (power tool)

Machinery's Handbook 1924

Diydata nail types