When you started dabbling in woodworking, you didn’t expect to use the humble nail did you?

The screw is a much more sophisticated fixture, but nails are ideal for projects where intense grip isn’t necessary.

Did you know there are several different types of woodworking nails?

It’s true: each type serves a distinct purpose.

How do you choose between nails or screws for the job? And which type or types of nails should you use?

It’s very important to pick the right metal fixture when designing and building your project to ensure proper strength and aesthetics.

What Are the Different Types of Nails and What Are They Used For?

This list doesn’t even begin to all the nail types on the market – that list would be just about infinite.

It does, however, cover most of the common different types of nails you’ll see throughout your woodworking ventures.

As for materials, most types of nails are made with either iron or steel and sold by weight rather than amount. Many nails also have a galvanized coating to improve their resistance to rust.

1. Round Head Nail

B&C Eagle A238X113/22 Round Head 2-3/8-Inch x .113 x 22 Degree Bright...
  • Compatible with a variety of nail guns
  • Full round head
  • Available in a 500 count

As the name implies, these nails have a round head which makes them very easy to hit with a hammer. Unfortunately, they may also split the piece of wood if you drive them in too far.

These types of nails are excellent for any general purpose where structure is key, and aesthetics aren’t too important.

2. Oval Head

These are almost identical to round head nails except they are less likely to split the wood. They’re also a little flatter than round heads and sit snuggly in the wood’s surface.

3. Masonry

Pack of 70 Hardened Ribbed Steel Masonry Nails 2.5x40mm (1x1"-9/16")...
  • 70-PACK OF 2.5x40MM (1x1"-9/16") HARDENED STEEL MASONRY NAILS - This great-value pack of steel masonry nails are a...
  • TAPERED HEAD DESIGN - Featuring a tapered head design which ensures the nails can be hammered fully into the target...
  • RIBBED FOR BETTER HOLD - The shaft of these hardened steel masonry nails includes a ribbed section near the head of the...

Masonry nails are ideal for, well, masonry applications like attaching stone and wood together.

These nails are made of zinc for added strength and resistance to corrosion. The zinc gives masonry nails their ability to penetrate tough surfaces like stone.

4. Finish

DEWALT DCS16150 1-1/2-Inch by 16 Gauge Finish Nail (2,500 per Box)
  • Consistent drivability for applications
  • Box contains 2,500 durable and reliable nails
  • Made of cold-worked carbon steel and galvanized in a hot-dip

These nails are perfect for visually pleasing jobs because they can either sit flush with the wood’s surface or be pushed into the wood at a slight recess.

The finish variety is very similar to the round head, but the size of the head is much smaller.

5. Roofing

Roofing nails are ideal for outdoor applications because they are galvanized to prevent rust or corrosion.

These nails are typically used for securing asphalt and other items to roof surfaces. They have a flat head and come in many sizes.

6. Drywall

Drywall Nails, Diamond Point, Annular Threaded, 1-5/8"
  • Ringed shanked for greater holding power
  • Diamond point ring shank tip to help ease drivability and holding power
  • Used for attaching gypsum wallboard, sheetrock to wood studs

Drywall nails are specially designed to penetrate plaster without tearing the paper that covers the drywall itself.

They have a round – yet relatively flat – head and penetrate about one inch into the wall’s frame. It’s not a good idea to use drywall screws or nails for any woodworking projects.

7. Siding Nail

Siding nails are also great for outdoor projects because they are galvanized and available in a variety of shapes and sizes.

8. Annular Ring Shank

Simpson Strong Tie C310ARN1 Annular Ring Shank Hand Drive Roofing Nail...
  • Approximately 147 nails per pound
  • Large, flat head provides extra bearing surface to firmly secure roofing material
  • Smooth Head

These nail types often look like a misplaced screw – or even earthworm – due to the rings around their shaft.

Annular ring shank nails are one of the best woodworking nails because their rings provide added grip and strength to ensure a secure attachment.

9. Corrugated

These certainly don’t look like nails, but they serve the same purpose as a nail and are driven into place with a hammer.

Corrugated fixtures are wavy and look very similar to a rigid potato chip made of metal. These nail types are ideal for securing cross sections with an invisible result such as window or picture frames.

10. Cut Clasp

More and more people are renovating historic homes. These folks want an updated house with an authentic feel from the past.

As a result, you see cut clasp nails making a comeback. These nails have a very crude appearance but are extremely sturdy and work great in several types of large projects.

11. Cut Floor

The cut floor is very similar to the cut clasp: it has an angular shape and somewhat crude design.

Where it differs is the head. The cut floor has a flat head which makes it perfect for floorboards.

Woodworking Nails Vs. Screws

These are just a few of the dozens and dozens of nail types available.

Which types of nails should you use? It all depends on the project.

When constructing a deck, for example, you’ll utilize both nails and screws in different places.

Screws have a more durable tensile strength while nails hold up well to twisting and turning.

Take your item’s purpose, type of wood, and joint into consideration when deciding which woodworking nails to use for the job.

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