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Toe-Nailing Lumber with Hammer and Nails

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When you need to nail two pieces of wood at a 90 degree angle, you often have no other way of attaching the wood than by toe-nailing. Toe-nailing means to drive a nail at a 45-60 degree angle from one board to another.

Toe-nailing isn’t the ideal method of joining wood. Home renovators and carpenters will choose most other methods of joining wood before they consider toe-nailing. Still, the toe-nailing method does come up, so it’s good to have a few tips about it.

  • Use longer nails than you might first imagine. Remember, you are driving the nail a longer distance than with conventional methods of nailing. An 8d nail should do.
  • Fix in place the board you are nailing into. Toe-nailing will move your board with the first blow of the hammer, and it is impossible to hold this board in place by hand. Use a scrap piece of 2”x4” as a temporary “block” to keep the board you are nailing into from shifting.
  • Realize that the nail head will probably be sticking out a good quarter of an inch. It is exceedingly difficult to pound the nail in all the way. With that in mind, try to toe-nail only in places that will not be expose (i.e., between wall studs).
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