However, many people still have a “make do” mentality and grab the first nail that comes to hand when doing a job. This is unwise, as using any old nail can affect just how sturdy your finished product will be.
Before you start randomly hammering away, remember these guidelines:
1. How thick is the object being nailed?
Using nails that are too short can affect the strength of the finished product while using ones that are too long will mean that you end up with the base of the nail poking out. Make sure you get the correct length for the job you need.
2. What is your material?
Wood, metal and masonry all require a different type of nail. Using the wrong kind of nail – for example a masonry nail on a wooden unit – can not only be aesthetically unpleasant but it can also cause damage to the item you are using it on.
3. Is the nail a permanent or temporary fixture?
If you only need to hold something together for a brief period of time, or plan on dismantling something at some point, it could be worth considering using a screw instead of a nail.
4. Will the nail be somewhere it could be seen?
There are two main categories of nails (with numerous types in each). Common nails have large flat heads and can be used when it doesn’t matter if the nail can be seen. However finishing nails have narrow heads that can be driven into the object with a nail punch making them almost invisible. For a more aesthetic finish, use the finishing nail anywhere that it might be seen. For furniture, special decorative upholstery nails are available which can be a design feature as well as having the practical job of holding the piece together.