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September 2021
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Nail Guide for DIY’ers – Other Nails

In remodeling now that we have looked at Framing Nails and Finish Nails, we come to the other nails that may end up on your projects. Up till now we have looked at steel nails used in construction in interior and dry locations. Exterior locations, drywall, paneling and wood to concrete use speciality nails. Here is a photo of probably the most used nails in these categories.


From left to right are Galvanized, ringshank and phosphate drywall nails, and concrete nails. These are the most common types of nails most DIY’ers will need. Below we take a closer look.

Galvanized Nails
From top to bottom we have Sinkers, Roofing, and Exterior siding nails.
Galvanized nails are coated with zinc to inhibit rust and are used in exterior locations. There are three current galvanizing methods, Hot dip, mechanical and electro-plating.
Most framing nails and some finish are available galvanized for locations that are exposed to moisture, like exterior trim, siding and roofing.
The top nail is a 16d hot dip sinker, the middle nail is an electroplated roofing nail, and the bottom is a 4d mechanically galvanized siding nail for siding and or wood shingles.
Quick rule of thumb: if it is outside it needs to be galvanized.

Ringshank and Drywall Nails
Ring shank nails increase the surface area that can be gripped, increasing the friction and resistance to pull out and removal.
From top is a 2” ring-shank paneling nail, a ringshank drywall nail and a southwestern phosphate coated drywall nail.
Ring shank panel nails are used most often in attaching plywood and or particle board sub flooring.
Drywall ring shank nails perform the same function on walls and ceilings. Phosphate drywall nails were developed to minimize rusting behind taping mud, and as far as I know are one of those weird southwestern nail deals. The coating may provide some friction benefit like coated nails, but I do not know.

Concrete Nails
Concrete nails are much harder than regular nails, and eye protection really needs to be worn. You should use eyeware protection in any case in remodeling and construction, but especially when using concrete nails.
The top nail is called a Cut nail. These nails are forged rather than drawn like wire nails. Subsequently they are harder and chip easier than wire nails. These are primarily used to fasten wood to masonry or concrete. Like furring strips to the interior of brick or block houses. Despite having around 4 times more holding power than a equally sized wire nail, they have been replaced by fluted nails, sleeve and wedge anchors for attaching bottom plates to concrete floors.
The bottom one is a fluted concrete nail, doing basically the same thing.

So there you have it. Probably more than you ever wanted to know about nails.

Nail Guide for DIY'ers - Finish Nails

Having explored Framing Nails, I am jumping ahead to Finish Nails. I will deal with the nails between the wood and trim (drywall, paneling,and specialty nails) next post.

Finish Nails are the ‘headless’ nails used primarily for trim work, hence finish. They come in a variety of sizes for fastening things that will be exposed or where  materials will be finished such as window and door frames in wood, where a big headed nail may look bad.

Here is a photo of  a selection of finish nails from 16d [3 1/2”] to 4d [1 1/2”]. (Note Nails smaller than 1 1/2” are called ‘brads’ and are sold by length.)


They are called headless, but they do have a small head. They also have a diamond point on the other end. I need to take a moment to talk about how nails work.

Nails are friction holding devices. The wood surrounding the nail provides the friction that allows things to stay together and not fall apart. That is it. The little bits of friction and a bit of gravity is the only thing keeping the big bad wolf or storms from sucking your house off its foundation and sending it to Oz or someone else’s house. (Or in my case, concrete anchors, construction adhesives, nails, deck screws, strong tie hangers and brackets…) Relax, they have been doing their job well for hundreds of years.

I mentioned in the framing nail posting how various coatings are used on framing nails to increase the holding power of the nail. Vinyl, Epoxy, Cement. Not so much with finish nails. The only notable exception are galvanized nails for exterior use.

Because nails work by friction, splitting your wood  removes the friction necessary to your nails doing their job and makes your work look bad. The closer you get to the edge or end of a piece of wood,(Composites don’t count.) the greater the chances of the nail splitting it, and causing problems. All nails have points, which is good news/bad news. Good news in knowing which direction to point them, bad news for edge nailing including toe nailing which is not used much anymore.

The point of the nail literally cuts the wood fibers as you drive it in. This is a bad thing for the friction game especially if you split the wood. You can minimize this. When getting ready to drive a nail into an edge or end, flip it over and tap the point with your hammer to blunt the point of the nail before driving it.


What this  does is push the wood fibers out of the way rather than cutting them maintaining the maximum friction and holding power. I learned this from my grandfather who was a master cabinet maker from Sweden, and it hasn’t let me down yet.

With every nailing operation except for duplex nails, your goal is to drive the nail just below the surface. Occasionally you will slip and damage the lumber with a hammer mark. In rough framing this is not a real issue, as it will be covered by something and have trim.

On trim however, this is an issue. There is a tool for that. It is called a nail set. A nail set is a small tool with a semi flat point to allow you do tap the head of finish nails below the surface of your trim.


You want to take care to just drive the nail far enough so that any filler you use to hide the nail hole will be easy to finish.

For the majority of your home remodeling projects you will only need 2 sizes 8d and 4d


The 8d will cover setting door and window frames, applying 1x-3/4” trims and other areas where appearance is an issue. The 4d will handle all of your case and base work. You will only need to buy these in pound quantities. The only other optional size would be a small box of 16d’s for temporary hangers like coat racks and interior jambs on exterior doors that have 1 1/2 ” or thicker jambs.

Happy Nailing.

Nail Guide for DIY'ers - Framing Nails

One of the most basic things in building and remodeling are nails. Your entire house, except for the brick and concrete bits is built and held together with nails.  When you walk into the hardware store looking for nails, there is a huge selection of types, sizes, coatings and finishes. One of the things that stops a lot of folks from doing remodeling projects is the wide selection of just the basic stuff like nails.

This is a guide to the most useful nails that you will need for your projects. First up are Framing Nails. Framing nails are used in building walls, roofs, applying sheathing, sub-flooring, and just about everywhere construction lumber is used.

Here are a selection of nails from my   nail carry around. From left to right are a 16d Duplex, a 16d sinker, a 10d common, a 10d box, a 8d sinker, a 6d common, and a 6d box nail.
These are the most common nails that are used in building and remodeling projects

Framing nails come in three basic styles.  Sinkers, Common and Box. Nail sizes  are designated by (d) (penny) which was how much a hundred nails cost, by size back in England. More info on this at Wikipedia. Yeah I know it is weird, but let’s move on.

Sinkers and Commons are the same physical size in both thickness and length.  Sinkers have a waffle pattern on the top of the head to help drive the nails by providing a non skid surface for the hammer face and come in a number of coating styles. Sinkers sre available with vinyl, epoxy and cement coatings. They are also available with a galvanized coating for locations that may be exposed to water. These coatings improve the holding power of the nails significantly. They also make you swear a lot when you are demoing things using these nails.


Commons have no waffling or coating generally. They should not be used in high moisture or exposed area as they will rust.  Box nails are the same length as their sinker and common sisters, but have thinner shafts.

Box nails are a holdover from boxes were made from wood and the materials were thinner,(think fruit crates) and a thinner shaft minimized splitting of the slats when nailing.

Before I announce the winners, the last entrant and the nail on the left is a duplex head nail. The duplex nail has two heads to make removable easier as it is used for applications that are temporary in nature. Most notably concrete forms and temporary scaffolding. Also known as scaffolding nails, from a time when scaffolding was made from wood, before the invention of steel tubular scaffolding. Now that you probably know way too much about nails…..

The Winners Are


The 8 and 16d coated sinkers provide 95% of your needs in framing and sheathing in remodeling projects. They combine the best in holding power, resistance to bending and utility from framing to sheathing. Buying them in bulk will save you money and time. You may think 25 pounds of nails is crazy, but trust me, if you are doing a substantial amount of remodeling you will be surprised.

Gift Ideas for Home Improvement DIY’ers

Over at One Project Closer, the lads have a list of gifts for the DIY’ers and remodelers. Some nice stuff.

I would like to add to the list with a excellent plastic storage container. This is a Workforce parts container I picked up at the orange store about 3 years ago. They are around 12-15 bucks a copy. You may only think you need one, but like potato chips, that won’t fly long. These are very durable made with thick plastic.
They are 18” wide, 12 1/2” high, and 3 1/2” deep. The handle is integral, and comfortable, especially when you have it filled up with stuff.

The dividers are very well made and sit in the boxes well.  They are adjustable and come with the box. The lid holds them in place when transporting.
This is the one I use for nails.
The top from the left I have 16d sinkers, 10d brights, 8d sinkers, 2” ringshanks
Next 6d commons, 6d finish, 4d finish, and 16d duplex
Next 8d finish, 3d finish, 1 1/2 ring shank, and 4d galvanized.
the bottom spaces on either side of the handle are for misc. stuff although under the plastic bag on the right I have a number of nail sets.

My screw box.
Here I have deck screws from 1 1/4 to 3”. Drywall screws from 1” to 1 5/8”, both coarse and fine thread. I have specialty screws in 1/2”-3/4”. This is where I keep various plastic wall anchors, and all my counter sink bits.
Did I mention that they are stackable?
These are well designed and tough. A worthy addition to your remodeling arsenal.

Exterior Door Security – Hinge Side – The 3 Dollar Solution

Most residential exterior doors swing in. Some swing out and have the hinges exposed. The bad guys will take advantage of this.

Last week I was refinishing some exterior doors and needed to find some Interlocking Security Stud hinges. Ace sells them online and by catalog, but in quantities of one. At 4 bucks a pop.  You really need two per door. Most commercial doors swing out. The primary reason is floor space. You
loose a lot of square footage having a door swing in as well as needing
to open the door after you have sold your customers bags full of
stuff. Door02

The photo on the right shows one of these type of hinges. It has a hole on one side and stud stamped  out of the body on the other side.

When the door is closed, the stud locks the hinge in place so even if the hinge pin is removed, or the barrel is cut off,  the hinge is locked in place making breaking in much harder.

These used to be available in hardware stores next to regular hinges in the most popular residential sizes. Residential and Commercial hinges are different animals. I won't detail the differences as you probably have other things to do and this post would run for days if I did. Suffice to say. "I know things about Hinges".

I will mention the set screw type and the fast riveted pin types will both fail to with a guy armed with a battery powered die grinder with a grinding wheel. Cut through the hinge barrel, the set screw and fast riveted pin types are laying on the ground, and your stuff is on its way to a fence.

They still make them, but the orange and blue box stores don't carry them. Nor do the bigger chain hardware stores or commercial hardware stores here in Phoenix, the 6th or 8th largest major city in the country. They are more expensive, but so is your stuff.

The 3 Dollar Solution

I went to Clyde Hardware, a local Builders Hardware store(which is a commercial hardware supply house), which doesn't carry them either, but turned me on to these.


These are CASTLE Maximum Security Hinge Pins. 3 Dollars. One package does a door. Compare that with the Ace hinge above which will set you back 4 bucks each, really needing two, and the extra mortising you will probably need to do as the are square corners and your hinges have rounded corners.

A side note here: your hinges have rounded corners as the manufacturers of pre hung door use routers to mortise the doors and jambs. Square corners require more work.

Drop dead simple. Mark the door, drill two 1/2'' holes, tap them into place and you are done.

The exposed pin is a 1/2'' long making it almost impossible to remove the door. The bad guys will have to destroy the door entirely to get passed these. 

And did I mention cheap? It's all about saving the Benjamins.

Here is the finished detail.


An elegant solution to security on exterior door. Works on most residential steel doors also as they are clad front and back and the hinge and jamb are exposed wood.


Installation Instructions:


Drywall Screwblocks

The hardest part of drywall finishing is getting smooth butt joints. The hardest butt joints are those on your ceilings.

Drywall screwblocks can save you a lot of time and sanding.
You have to make these yourself as nobody sells them, and it is a good use for scrap wood.

Here is the typical procedure.
Hang the drywall.

Apply the tape coat and spot the nails.

Apply the second coat to fill the seams, spot the nails and apply a wide coat over the butt joints. The butt coats have to be wider to hide the fact that they are not recessed. They are also more time consuming and tiring, especially upside down.

Apply a wider coat on the butt joints, blending it into the seams, and spot the nails.

Sand the mud being careful not to expose the tape on the butt joints.

Prime the drywall and spot any defects you may have missed or appear when you paint.

Paint the primer and call it a day hopefully.

The ceiling is not strictly flat, but if you do the preceding well, you will not notice.

Now using screwblocks we will eliminate most of the taping of butt joints. We cut our sheets of drywall to meet between the ceiling joists rather than on top of them.

Here is how they work. Cut your sheet to the middle of a space between two joists. Nail or screw off the rest of the sheet. Install the screwblock above the drywall with the tar paper facing down. Attach it to the sheet with 2 drywall screws, being careful not to screw into the tarpaper. Cut and butt your next sheet, nailing or screwing it off. Screw the other end of the screwblock with 2 screws. The tarpaper acts as a shim so the drywall will bend up creating a recess that requires a lot less work to tape and get smooth.

Here is a ceiling joint with the screwblocks in place.


The Walk In Closet Project Episode 8

In our last episode we had attached the cabinets to the wall and built the bases for the closets. Concrete floors are rarely level. From bad construction to aging, over time the earth moves and affects concrete floors. In most cases you are building a base to put cabinets or other things that for the most part are square, and level. If you don’t it to move, here is one method to achieve that.

The technique to bolting down a base assembly is straightforward.

You need two levels, shims, A34 strong ties, blue screws, and drywall screws. You need to find the high spot and work out from there. You need a long level for your front edge, and the short level for front to back.

Once you have a high point, you shim away from it, and checking your levels, place your anchors. In this case I am using A34 Simpson Strong Tie anchors.

Using this anchoring system is relatively inexpensive, and quick. Place the anchor on the floor and use a couple of drywall screws to fasten it to your 2×4”. Then use the Tapcon Tool to drill the hole in the concrete, to attach the base flange to the floor with the blue screw. (You really need a hammer drill for doing this, so it doesn’t take a long time or burn out the bit)

Depending on the load, I usually place them every 32-48” apart. Being that this is a closet with rods, 48” is close enough to anchor the base.

If you are doing a lot of attachment to concrete, buying the Tapcon Condrive tool is the way to go. Has all the parts you need. You can buy replacement drill bits, and if you buy the blue screws by the hundred, they throw in a bit.

Drywall Fasteners – Screws of Our Lives – The Steel Ones

Steel Studs aka Light Guage Metal Framing is an alternative to wood framing. It has it’s place. Steel Studs use different screws.
From left to right are Trimheads, Panheads, and Self Tapping Type S screws.
Trim heads as the illustration shows have a much smaller head, (use a #1 Phillips Bit) and are made for attaching trims through drywall into steel studs.
Pan heads are the 16d fasteners of steel stud framing. These are used to screw the steel framing together.
Self Tapping Type S screws are used for attaching the drywall to the steel stud frames. Here is a comparison of head size.
When working with steel studs, you want the fastest spinning screw gun you can find. You have to get through the drywall and the steel and cinch it up tight befor the screw tries to wobble and walk on you, leaving you with a large ragged hole that won’t hold, is a PITA of fill and coat, and generally make your project a splinter in your mind rather than an endorphin buzz that you can share.

The previous posting showed Type S screws that are pointed, and are more widely available at your local home store, and perfectly acceptable for light gauge (25 ga.) steel stud framing. I showed the self tapper to illustrate the different types available. Medium Gauge (20) and Red Iron Steel Framing use self tappers exclusively, and unless you are building an entire house out of it, will probably not need to be in your hardware box.

Drywall Fasteners – Screws of Our Lives – The Wood Ones

Drywall Screws are Different. They are Black, Harder than Regular Screws, have a specific shape and different types. The are often called Bugle Head, due to the shape of the head which is radius to deform the paper and the gypsum core with out tearing the paper. as I mentioned in the post about the Screwgun The black color is an anti rust coating. The points are sharp!

These are the most common ones for home use.
Type ‘W’ or Wood Screws have a coarse thread for driving into wood.
Type ‘S’ or Steel Screws have a fine thread and although made for attaching drywall to steel studs are used interchangeably.
Given a choice, use the wood ones around the house.


The standard size you will probably use are 1 1/4″ for attaching 1/2″ drywall to studs, and 1 3/8″ for attaching 5/8″ drywall to studs. This provides 1/2″ penetration into the stud, which is the recommended code attachment. You can use a little longer screw, but it is not necessary.

They are not limited to drywall. You can use them to screw all sorts of stuff together. Temporary or permanently.

However…. There are a couple of areas where they should not be used. If you look at the photo, you will see that the thread comes up to the base of the head, and because of the thinness of the shaft,and the hardness of the screw, they do not have the strength to resist side shear like a regular wood screw.

Do not use them as hinge screws! Do not use them as Hanger Screws! When they snap, and they will, you will cry, because they will resist every attempt to remove them, short of dismantling what they broke off in, and replacing it. You will cry like a baby.