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Guide on Different Types of Nails
Using nails is an effective way of fixing or joining pieces of timber together. Some woods may be difficult to join with nails as they can split under the impact of the hammer. Below is a range of nails that can be used depending on the type of wood and the nature of the DIY home improvement to be under taken. There is a nail to suit every job, it always pays to use the correct type.
Masonary Nail

Made of hardened steel, this nail is used to fix wood to brick, breeze block and most types of masonry.
Round wire nail.

These large round head nails are mostly used for rough carpentry where appearance is not important but strength is essential. They are inclined to split a piece of wood. Sizes from 20- 150 mm (0.75in - 6in).
Oval wire nail.

Most suitable for joinery work where appearance is important since they can easily be punched below the surface. They are less likely to split the wood if driven in with the longer sides parallel to the grain. Sizes from 12-150 mm (0.5in - 6in)
Round or lost head nail. Stronger than oval wire nails, they can easily be punched below the surface of the wood. Sizes from 12-150 mm (0.5-6in)
Cut floor brad.

Rectangular, they have an L-shaped head and are nearly always used for nailing floorboards to joists. Sizes from 25-150 mm (1-6in).
Hardboard nail.

These have a diamond-shaped head which is virtually hidden when hammered into hardboard. Sizes from 9-38mm (3/8-1.5 in).
Panel pin.

Round lightweight nail usually used for cabinet-making and for fixing small mouldings into place.
Square twisted nail

Twists into the piece of wood. These comparatively expensive nails offer a more permanent, screw-like grip than plain nails.
Cloat

Are made of galvanized steel, with a large, flat retaining head, this nail is most suitable for soft materials such as plasterboard and roof felt.
Annular nail

Useful where very strong joints are required. The sharp ridges round the shank become embedded in the wood to give a tight grip.
Tack

A short nail with a wide, flat head, the tack is used for fixing carpets to floorboards and for stretching fabric on to wood.
Sprig

Can be best described as a small nail without a head. They are used mainly to hold glass in window frames before applying putty which covers them up. Sizes from 12-19mm (0.5-0.75in)
Upholstery nail.

Available in chrome, brass and other metallic finishes, they are used as a secondary fixing with tacks. The dome head gives a decorative finish when nailing chair coverings into place. Various head sizes are available.
Staple.

U-shaped round wire nails with two points to hold lengths of wire in position. Some staples have an insulated lining for fixing flex and electric cable.
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