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Revision as of 07:08, 4 January 2007 by NT (talk | contribs) (lots more)
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Construction Nails

Round Wire Nails

Planet Earth's most popular nails.

  • Low cost
  • Quick to use

Oval Nails

As round wire nails, but:

  • Less likely to split wood
  • Cost a bit more

Ring Shanked Nails

  • More resistance to pullout.
  • Used for wooden flooring


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.

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

Square Twist Nails

  • Improved pullout resistance in spingy materials such as wood

Lost Head Nails

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

For nailguns

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?

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


Panel Pins

Headless Pins

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.
  • 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


  • Most nails are BZP steel.
  • Stainless steel
  • Brass
  • Copper


  • Galvanised
  • Sheradised
  • Brassed
  • Coloured head


Finger survival

Holding nails in pliers increases the mean life for fingers

Toe nailing

Used for wooden uprights in stud walls

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

Hammer Fixings




Nailer (power tool)