Tag Archives: nails

Shop Fasteners

IMG_1468I consider myself a furniture maker; to me, that’s a sub-group of woodworkers. A furniture maker is more narrowly focused on building furniture. As a result, I have a narrow view on fasteners.

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.

IMG_1469Other screws I buy are square-drive, self-tapping screws used for jigs and other shop stuff, and I sometimes purchase other sizes of wood screws if I find the need. But that’s not often.

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, IMG_1471but 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!



Filed under Hardware, Methods of Work, Shop Tips