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 In Shop Blog, Techniques

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Traditional cut nails can be made from pretty soft steel, especially the useful cut headless brads. As a result, you have to be careful when installing them. Here are some of the things that can go wrong and how I deal with them.

1. Your pilot hole is too shallow. One early book on woodworking advises you to drill a pilot hole that is one-half the length of your nail. This advice works in softwoods, but it can be a disaster in hardwoods. When a soft nail reaches the end of the pilot hole it can bend. This is a sudden failure: tap, tap, doink. The best solution is to pull the nail with nippers (is this a racist term? I hope not) and drill the pilot deeper.

2. Your hammer skills stink. When working inside casework, it can be tough to get the hammerhead right where you want it , particularly when driving nails at an angle for toenailing or simply angling them to help wedge your components together.


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