Toolsday: Nail Set

Ah, the humble nail set. You might underestimate the amount of class this little tool can add you your woodworking projects.

Nail Set

When you're assembling something with finishing nails (those are the nails with very narrow heads on them) you have a quandary. If you try to pound the nails flat, you might leave hammer marks on the surface of the wood. If you leave the nail heads sticking up, or actually visible at all, your work will look a little shoddy. Enter the nail set. First, you drive the nails with the hammer until the nail heads are just above the surface. Then, you position the narrow tip of the nail set right in the center of the nail head, and hit the wide tail of the set with the hammer. This drives the head of the nail into the wood, without marring the surface. You can leave this little hole, or putty over the hole before finishing to disguise it.

You can get these in several tip sizes to match the common sizes of finishing nail, but I've only ever needed this one. The gnurled center provides a firm grip on the tool; having it slip off the nail head and punch into the wood is bad. The square tail keeps the set from rolling off your workbench. How clever is that?

You don't need to spend a lot of money on these, I often see a little shrink-wrapped bundle of three at the big box store for a couple of dollars.

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2012.03.06 at 12:00am EST