Nails and hardwood
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When driving nails in hardwood you may experience the misfortune of having a large crack appear, or even a piece of your timber break out at an edge. In addition any nail driven in hardwood will set due to high friction caused by the wood cells around the driven nail (similar to the build-up up of friction when you drive a pile in the subsoil). The resistance of the nail shank to withdrawal for a piece of hardwood is therefore very high and needs a lot of force to take out. So, you may wonder what will happen if nails are used to connect prefabricated hardwood parts which need to be taken out during the dismantling process:
           

This will happen:  

and that is the main reason that we do not use any nail in our hardwood prefab structures, though there are a few solutions, however, these are time consuming, expensive and do not guarantee an undamaged connection.
 

                            click on the picture for an enlargement
 
Remedies may be:
 
bulletDip the the nail in petroleum jelly (*), which reduces the friction of the driving process, and can decrease the probability of the wood splitting.
(*)
Some wood species will show ugly black stains after an application with petroleum.  
 
bulletPre-drill a hole slightly smaller than the nail's shaft diameter. This will reduce the pressure of the nail penetration and shafty friction without decreasing the nail's grip on the wood.
 
bulletUse the smallest diameter nail which will do the job, however, this can only be done when these ugly steel connector plates will be used and tens of nails be driven thru the plate holes.
 
bulletBlunt the point of the nail with the hammer. This is done by placing the nail on a hard surface with the point facing up, and tapping the sharp end with a hammer. The nail will then cut its way through the wood grain, rather than wedging a pathway. Though this puts all the material displacement along a single plain, rather than dispersing it all around the point of the nail.
 
bulletWhere end nailing is necessary, angle the nail so that it can be started farther away from the end, but the nail will still get a bite into the other wood part it is being nailed to.
 
bulletBack any nail out if a crack begins to appear while driving it. A tiny crack is a sure indication the wood will split if you continue.

 

However, you will certainly agree with us that it is a much better method not to use nails, but pre-drilled screws or threads as to avoid that cracks occur or parts will split or break off, which is so often the case when nails in hardwood are used.  

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Last modified: August 19, 2013
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