How to Drive a Nail into Thin Wood Without Splitting it

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Working with very thin pieces of wood can be particularly difficult. They bend, break and warp easily, and they tend to split and crack when being nailed or stapled. If you're going through lumber like crazy because you keep splitting your boards while nailing them, follow these steps to save yourself some trouble.

Things You'll Need

  • Small nails
  • Hammer
  • Thin pieces of wood
  • Vegetable oil
  • Cup or glass
  • Power drill
  • Very fine drill bit
  • Pencil
  • Locate the area of the thin wood you need to drive a nail into. If necessary, mark the spot with a pencil.

  • Pour a small amount of vegetable oil into a shallow cup or glass.

  • Dip the tip of a nail into the vegetable oil. Position the oiled nail in its place on the thin piece of wood.

  • Hammer away as you normally would. The oil may provide enough lubrication to ensure that the nail drives through the fibers without causing a split. If the wood splits anyway, proceed to the next step.

  • Take another piece of thin wood and mark the spot where it needs to be nailed. Use a power drill and a fine drill bit to drill a pilot hole through the spot. Make sure you drill the hole completely through.

  • Remove the split piece of wood and put the new piece in its place.

  • Dip the tip of another nail into the vegetable oil. Drive this nail through the pilot hole and secure the thin board in place. It's almost sure not to split.

Tips & Warnings

  • You can substitute virtually any type of oil for vegetable oil. You can also lubricate the nails with liquid hand soap instead.
  • Using smaller, finer nails will reduce the chances that you'll split your boards.

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