In Shop Blog, Techniques

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There is a lot to know about nails. Don’t laugh or scoff. I’ve been digging deep into my library this week and have come up with some stuff that is wild and weird from the world of nails. Here’s a taste of stuff I bet you didn’t know from Paul N. Hasluck’s “Handyman’s Book”:

– The surface of a nail should be slightly rough , but not barbed. Rough surfaces, such as those you’ll find on Tremont cut nails, are ideal. And the rough surface is intentional, not just crude manufacturing. Smooth nails have less holding power, as do barbed nails (which surprised the snot out of me).

– The optimal length of a nail for a joint should be three times the thickness of the thinnest piece. So when nailing 1/2″ stock, you need a 1-1/2″ nail. This seems long to me, but perhaps we’re used to 1-1/4″ screws.

– Nails driven across the grain hold 50 percent better than nails driven along the grain (such as into end grain, for example).

– Nails are not well-suited for any joints that are subjected to shock (use screws there instead). When nails are subjected to sudden shock they will hold only one-twelth as well as nails that have had the same pressure applied to them gradually.

– There were lots of kinds of nails that don’t exist anymore. Ever seen a double-pointed nail? These were used to secure edge-to-edge joints. I can’t find them at my hardware store.

Christopher Schwarz

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