In my shop, I do not have the need for a drawer full of various-sized screws and nails. Throughout my shop life, I’ve found that I use one size slot-head screw for most every furniture-building need. That size is a #8 x 1-1/4″ flat-head wood screw. That length allows me to join, even if I countersink the screw, two pieces of 3/4″ thick material – the thickness most commonly associated with furniture – without the worry of the the pointed end of the screw making an appearance on the show side of my project. (My hardware, whether brasses from a specialty hardware supplier or low-end hinges from my local hardware store, comes with the screws needed to use the pieces purchased. I do replace Phillips-head screws with slot-head screws)
I buy these screws by the gross. When I use them, for the most part, I strip off the zinc plating using gun bluing purchased from a sporting goods store – at least that’s where I easily find the solution.
I have a similar philosophy when it comes to nails. I keep 1-1/4″ and 1-1/2″ fine finish (reproduction) nails on hand. And I have 1-1/4″ shingle nails (the headed ones in the above photo). The finish nails are used on show faces of nailed-together furniture, and the shingle nails are used mainly for backboards, and for interior work where the nails seldom show.
I’ve had a box of headless brads gathering dust in the shop for nearly 20 years. I discovered that these nails were a pain to install and set, but more importantly, I discovered that the small rectangular depression left by the #18-gauge nails driven by my air-powered nail guns look almost identical to hand-driven brads. The only difference is that on occasion, hand-driven brads need to be pulled, and that messes up the surface. And before you write that air-driven brads can shoot out the sides of your projects, remember that you need to accurately size the brads for the task, and pay attention to grain direction. I have a couple of lengths of #18-gauge brads – 1″ and 1-1/4″.
I also use a #23-gauge fastener. These fasteners disappear, and are perfect on small moldings.
You can call me nail and screw deficient, but I’ve made it 22 years and built a few more than 500 pieces of furniture using just the fasteners. I think that’s all I need.
Build Something Great!