How to toenail wood

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Toenailing a wooden board is an essential skill for any carpenter. It should also be learned by anyone who does repairs around their home, as it can make many jobs easier. Toenailing wood not only strengthens the joint where two boards come together, but it can also be an effective way to reposition stubborn or warped boards that are not on their mark. As simple as the toenail may seem, this can often be a frustrating skill to acquire. Use these tips to practice how to toenail wood.

Things You'll Need

  • Hammer
  • Nails
  • Boards to toenail
  • Begin by carefully measuring your boards to determine where the two pieces of wood should be joined together. After measuring, mark the spot with a pencil so that you will know where to toenail the board.

  • After making your initial measurements, bring the two boards together and hold them in place by hand.

  • With both boards held on the mark, use your free hand to hold the nail on the outside of the boards. This allows you to clearly visualize how the nail will go through the boards, and also tells you where to begin nailing. Hold the nail at an angle slightly steeper than 45 degrees, with the point of the nail being at least an inch below the surface of the second board. Where the head of the nail rests should give you an indication of what height to begin nailing into the first board.

  • After using the method in Step 3 to gauge how high you should start your nail, you are now ready to begin nailing. It is important to note that you do not begin by nailing at an angle. This often causes the nail to slip and enter the board in the wrong position. It is better to begin by hammering the nail straight into the board.

  • After the nail has been hammered into the board about ¼ inch, raise the head of the nail so that the nail gets repositioned at about a 50-degree angle. Continue hammering the nail into the board, going in the new, downward motion. As the nail sinks deeper into the board, you may have to strike on the outer edge of the nail head in order to push the nail the rest of the way in.

  • Repeat the process as many times as necessary to secure the joint between the two boards. In standard 2 x 4 framing construction, it is generally a good idea to toenail two nails on each side of the board. This balance may be adjusted if you are using a toenail in order to get a warped or stubborn board to pull into proper position.

Tips & Warnings

  • Toenailing can sometimes be a difficult art to master. Try to practice on some scrap lumber until you find your groove.

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  • Photo Credit PPDIGITAL, Flickr.com Creative Commons License
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