How to Choose the Right Type of Nails For Your Woodworking Projects

Primarily, a nail is in the shape of a pin that is very useful in holding things together especially wood. Using a nail gun or a hammer, you can fasten objects together using nails. A nail is a very basic and essential tool in the process of construction. Most of the things that need putting together utilize nails. They may seem plausible, but when you need nails, it becomes a hassle because they are not just plainly nails. They too have styles, different uses, prices, and availability.

Picking out the right type of nails for the kind of construction that you are carrying out is not as easy as it may sound because there are factors to consider. Getting the wrong nails could mean that the project fails and is not very efficient.

Basic information about nails

When you set out to buy nails, you need to know the basics so that you get exactly what you need for your project.  Nails come in different sizes, weights, thickness, length and even functions. Familiarize yourself with the following terms that help in the process:


It is important to know the wire that the nail is made from. When the number is low, the wire is heavy, that is the principle that they work. Gauge is used to describe nails and determine the kind of function that they are best for.

Tenpenny nail

In the 15th century, this nail was referred by its price, and the name stuck over the centuries. It is a three inch long nail. It is abbreviated using “10d”. “d” being the roman abbreviation for Denarius.

Galvanized nails

A protective coating of zinc on nails is what makes them galvanized nails. The coating is to protect the nail from rust which makes it a longer lasting nail. A galvanized nail is perfect for outdoor framing. The coating can through electroplating or hot dipping.

Finish nails

It is a nail that is made up of 15 or 16 gauge wire with strong holding power that can hold heavy finishes and moldings.

Brad nails

Brad nails have small round heads. They are 18 gauge nails making them perfect for fastening. The head of the brad nail flattens on the surface of the wood leaving no need for any extra filling.

Angled nails

The specific design put into these nails is so that they can fit in the nail guns. They are perfect for corners and can easily fasten two objects perpendicular to each other.

Features of nails

Understanding the features of a nail is essential in helping you when you want to buy nails. There are three main features of a nail which are the head, the shank, and the point. Each of these parts in a nail contributes to the characteristics of the nail depending on their size and make.

Nail point

Here you will find a variety of nail points all of which determine how easy the hammering process will be for you. These types include diamond, long diamond and blunt. When you choose to work with a blunt point nail, you significantly reduce the chances of splitting wood. The blunt end, however, makes it hard to drive the nail. Diamond point nails are the most known point nail for any use. The long diamond on the other hand works well with drywall and hard surfaces.

Nail head

The head of a nail is the most unmistakable feature of a nail. It is where you strike when hammering and also in some cases defines the type of nails that you are choosing. There is a long list of types of heads that give nails different capabilities and functions. These are:

Flat head

It is the widest known of nail head that provides you with a large surface to hammer and drive it into wood. Insulation and sheathing are perfect for this type of nails.

Checkered Flat head

For all your framing needs, do well to choose the checkered flat head with texture on the head that prevents slipping of the hammer.

Countersunk head

Perfect for finishing jobs, the countersunk conical shape design allows for the nail to be driven below the surface. The head of the nail is hidden and therefore you need not do any extra filling to finish.

Cupped head

With a concave head, this nail head provides the best way to conceal itself. Cupped head nails are mainly for drywall.

Nail shank

The middle part of the nail does most of the holding together once the hammering is complete. There are different nail shanks that serve different purposes and make it possible to have different types of nails for different functions. They include:

Smooth shark

It is suitable for everyday use and is the primary nail shank.

Barbed shank

It has a herringbone design that boosts its holding power. Though this feature gives them quite a hold, their hold is not as strong as the screw shank hold

Screw shank

It is the perfect type of nails to use with hard woods; it has an incredible hold that is very durable. Any dense material should have a screw shank driven into them.

Ringed shank

The hold on this type of nail is perfect when it comes to soft woods and objects of medium density.

Fluted shank

A very strong hold on cinder blocks and masonry. They help with preventing cracks through their design that includes a vertical thread.

How to choose type of nails for your projects

There is nothing more important than having your project go off without a hitch. You can accomplish this very easily; you just need to be sure what type of nails you need for what project. Knowing all this information makes it easy for you to purchase the right nails with no struggles.

The different types of projects and the kind of nails you need for these projects are in the list below that gives you comprehensive information on the project, best nails and why those nails are the best pick.

type of nails

1. Roofing project

You do not want your roof falling off or blown away by the wind. Roofing requires strong hold nails, and the best nails for Roofing are roofing nails. They are 1 to 2.5 inches long and galvanized to prevent rusting since they come into contact with all weather. They will hold your roof together for a considerable amount of time.

Roofing nails have asphalt shingles for strength and the heads are broad. It is a fairly short nail with amazing power to hold together your roof. They attach the roofing felt.

2. Framing project

Your framing needs just require you to get common nails; they will do just fine. These are 2.5 to 4 inches long with shanks that are long and large flat heads.

3. Framing basement

For this task, get the masonry nails that are 0.5 to 1 inch long. They are heavy gauge nails with spiral shanks that help to make the hold on these nails stronger.

The masonry nail is hard and made of hard zinc which will enable it to penetrate concrete surfaces. They are small and very thick which gives them the strength to drill into bricks.

4. Siding project

Use annular ring nails and siding nails for this task. Annular ring nails are stainless, ring shanks for maximum holding power and differ for wood, aluminum and vinyl sidings. They are also gaunt and resistant to rust

Siding nails on the other hand are galvanized to prevent rusting. They are aluminum and strong enough to hold together the siding.

5. Decks and porches

Stainless nails to withstand different weathers will be perfect. In simple terms, all you need for your porch is common nails.

6. Moldings project

Finish or brad nails are ideal for the job. You can also use casing nails. A 16 to 18 gauge nail will do the job depending on how thick the molding is.

Finish nails are ideal because it gives very neat nail work and also prevents splits. Once it’s driven in, it’s hardly visible. Brad nails on the other hand are small, angular and tapered that makes them very useful for cabinetry or plywood paneling. Casing nails mainly suit small moldings as windows and doors due to their stature. They have smooth heads and allow for easy removal if need be.

7. Flooring project

Without hardwood floor cleats then finish nails are the best choice for the job. To install flooring nails, you will need a nail gun or a pneumatic nailer. There are two more options available for flooring, cut flooring nails and spiral flooring nails.

Cut flooring nails are very strong and hard. They require the use of a machine to wedge them through. They are not as popular now. Spiral flooring nails are your best bet for an excellent subflooring job.

8. Doors and windows

2.5-inch finish nails will do the trick, or you can also use 1.5-inch roofing nails. When you have any of the two nail types, then your doors and windows will have safe fastening. Casing nails are also an option for doors and windows.

9. Paneling project

Here you need special paneling nails or finish nails that are made of aluminum and colored to match the kind of panels you have.

10. Wallboard project

Drywall nails are the best tools for the job because they have large heads, ring shanks and phosphate coating that helps to prevent any corrosion.

11. Upholstery project

Upholstery requires the use of upholstery nails that are large with decorative heads that make them perform a great job. And staple guns are built for installing upholstery easily.

12. Hanging curtains and pictures

Small brad or finish nails are good for this job. When you get a curtain fixture package, they mostly have the nails that you need to put them up.

13. Mirrors project

Hanging up a mirror requires a certain style and decorative feel which is exactly what the mirror nails provide. These nails have a stylish top that you can fix after you have put up the mirror.

14. Cables project

Cables in the house use cable nail clips to anchor them to walls and boards.

15. Duplex nails

A duplex nail is important in temporary construction. It has two heads that make is very easy to pull out the nail once it has served its purpose. It has a smooth shank. They are mainly used with forming concrete.

16. Box nails

A box nail may not have the strength to hold together your building but it has its unique uses. It is a thin nail available in one to three inches. It prevents splits and has a small head.

Top 3 Best Nail Guns

These are top 3 best nail guns comparison table which will help you to make the best choice for your woodworking projects easily:

Nail GunImagePower SourceMagazine CapacityShippingEditor's RatingPrice
BOSTITCH F21PL Round Head 1-1/2-Inch to 3-1/2-Inch Framing NailerCordless-Electric60 NailsFREE Shipping4.4 out of 5 stars (4.4 / 5)See on Amazon
Hitachi NT65MA4 1-1/4 Inch to 2-1/2 Inch 15-Gauge Angled Finish NailerPneumatic100 NailsFREE Shipping4.6 out of 5 stars (4.6 / 5)See on Amazon
Hitachi NT50AE2 18-Gauge 5/8-Inch to 2-Inch Brad NailerPneumatic100 NailsFREE Shipping4.4 out of 5 stars (4.4 / 5)See on Amazon

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What size of nails you need for framing

size of nails you need for framing

Common nails are more suitable for framing. The size of the nails is however dependent on the lumber that you want to join together. Common nails are thicker than box nails which provide a stronger hold. The lengths of common nails use the penny system that is abbreviates to “d.” For a framing job, use either the 16d, 10d or 8d common nails.

16d nails are 3.5 inches long and are very useful for right angles for example when joining floor frames. 10d nails translate to 3 inches and are great at joining flat surface boards. They are useful in windows and door headers. The 2.5 inches, 8d nail is perfect for toenailing.

How many nails are in a Pound?

Nails can be expensive when you are working on a large project. That is why it is important that you know how many nails you need so that you can buy the nails in bulk. The weight of nails is what determines the pricing when you buy in bulk. It would be tedious and impossible to count the nails one by one.

Different nails have different weights depending on their design, thickness and size. The number of nails in a pound of common nails will differ from roofing nails. The lowest number of nails in a pound is 30 nails and can go up to 530 nails because of all the differences with the different types of nails.

How will nails be installed?

When it comes to installation, you have two options. You can use a hammer or you can buy a nail gun. Hammers are the oldest way of hammering nails in. It is a generational tool that still serves great. You have to put in the manual strength to hit the nails and drive them into the wood however.

There are different types of hammers ranging from lightweight tack hammers. The tack hammer is best for fine wire nails which include finish and brad nails. Then there is the claw hammer that is amazing at general hammering nails into wood.

When you have small repairs, then you can use a hammer. For larger projects however, nail guns come in handy because they save you the exhaustion of using your strength and force to nail in the nails. There are pneumatic nail guns that with just one squeeze they will punch the nail into the wood just as you want it. Nail guns are efficient but also require that you take care of your equipment, so it has a long lifespan.

What length of the nail is needed?

The length of the nail that you need depends on the size, the thickness of the wood that you are hammering into. The general rule that is used to determine length is that the nail should be at least three times the length of the object you intend to hammer. This is called the rule of thumb.

When you have a 1 inch thick piece of wood, a 3 inch nail is appropriate and the best fit for this kind of nailing. Selecting the length that will work well for what you are nailing needs for you to be observant and calculate. It will also prevent the risk of wood splitting while hammering.

How to buy nails

Once you have all the information that you need on nails, you are ready to actually purchase the nails that will best suit your project. Depending on what you want the nails for, you will be able to select the sizes, shanks, heads and points that will suit your project. It will also help you plan a budget and spend wisely.

If you have more than one projects running and need different types of nails, you can opt to buy an assortment of nails that will serve you and help you complete your project in good time. An assortment is also great to have at home because you never know when you will need to do a few repairs or hangings in the house.

Nails are available in stores, hardware stores, discount stores and many other stores and you can get a discount on nails too. Nails do not expire so however long you have them, they will still serve their purpose.

You can also buy nails in an online store and it just requires that you know exactly what you want and ask for it. When you are shopping for any product it is important that you identify quality and legit sellers to prevent being duped, ensure that you specify exactly what you want so that your order is not mistaken.

Identifying legit online sellers is easy, the reviews may fool you but you should look for the top rated sites so that you get quality merchandise.


Buying the right nails is not rocket science but is the difference between a nicely finished piece of woodwork or a split rough and unfiled project. The success of your project depends on how informed you are on the nails that work for the project.

All factors above are crucial to the success of any project and even if you do not have a project at the moment, it doesn’t hurt to have the information to help you in the future. The first time may be hard but after that, all the power kicks in, and you can hold your own in a nail discussion.

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