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Everything you ever wanted to know about the other kind of nails

May 19, 2010

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About the Other Kind of Nails

Of course, YOU know I’m not talking about the nails at the ends of your fingers.  No, we women already know more than enough about those kind of nails. Don’t get me wrong, I love my French manicure, but this article is all about how to choose the correct fastening device for the job – or everything you ever wanted to know about the other kind of nails.

Just as there are fun facts about fingernails (e.g. how much they grow in a single day), there are also fun facts about the other kind of nails. For instance, galvanized nails should be used outside to avoid rust. Or, the fact that one half of the nail should end up in a receiving piece of hard wood, and two thirds of the nail should end up in the receiving piece of soft wood. Then, of course, there are my two all-time-favorite-cocktail-party-fun-nail-facts: 1) Coated nails heat up from the friction caused by hammering. The coating is designed to harden when it cools and, thus, bond to the wood; and 2) Nail length is indicated by the old customary measure for nails in England, “penny size,” (abbreviated d). This is a whole story in itself with many theories about what “penny size” actually meant back in the day, but suffice it to say, the larger the penny size the longer and thicker the nail.

Now, let’s move on to basic types of nails – and this is by no means comprehensive:
1. The common nail has a flat head and barbed shank (ouch). The nail is used for construction framing and has great holding strength. Makes sense. We don’t want our houses falling apart.
2. A finishing nail is used when you don’t want the head of the nail to show.  You use a “nail set” to drive the nail under the surface.
3. Cut nails are used for flooring. They are square with a blunt tip that prevents wood from splitting. Pay attention to how close to the edge of the wood you hammer in the nail.
4. Casing nails are for cabinets and trim work.
5. Brad nails are shorter, thinner and smaller than finishing nails and are used to attach molding (they hide very well).
6. Panel nails are used to attach paneling and actually come in colors that match the color of the panel.

As you can see, both a fingernail and the other kind of nail have color considerations, length considerations, visibility and sharpness considerations. I just love it when two worlds collide.

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