Reply by Mainiac Matt

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Posted on Square Cut Nails

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Mainiac Matt

7948 posts in 2297 days

#1 posted 03-16-2012 12:42 AM

I put down ~250 s.f. of red oak flooring that I harvested and had milled on site with a woodmizer and face nailed the boards with box nails….

As Is it here and stare at the floor I’m reminded of some things…..

1. I pre-drilled a hole that was just large enough to encompasses the small square section at the tip.
2. Stay at least 1/2” in from the side edges of the boards
3. Stay 2” to 3” back from the end grain
4. Make sure the long axis of the rectangular head is parallel to the grain. This is not as easy as it sounds, as many of my nails rotated while being driven.
5. Watch the grain very carefully…. If the grain angles towards the edge of the board, the nail will likely cause a split along the grain lines that will blow out the edge
6. I took an old cold chisel and ground the head to the exact shape of the nail head and used it to set the nails.
7. Stay well clear of knots and the curved grain going around the knots.
8. Use a heavy hammer and stout controlled blows. No tap, tap, tap stuff. You want the sharp edges of the nail to cut the grain fibers. The nail needs to move more than a nanometer with each blow to do this
9. Don’t get so hung up on your nailing pattern that you put a nail in anything other than straight grain.
10. Drive the nails sub flush with you punch, so you don’t trash your sander.
11. Make sure you test your nail length on identical thicknesses of the same materials…. These nails tend to blow out the back side quite dramatically…even if the nail is shorter than the total thickness.

BUT THEY LOOK GREAT! and are worth the extra effort.

I have a small stash of hand wrought box nails salvaged from a 1780 house that I’m saving for something special.

-- It’s the knowledge in your head, skill in your hands and motivation to create in you heart that makes you a woodworker. - Mainiac Matt

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