How to Prevent Wood Splitting

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Wood splitting poses a serious challenge to you when trying to get your project finished with the minimum amount of monetary outlay in lumber purchases. Wood splitting is caused by sharp-tipped fasteners being driven through the lumber---acting like a chisel---splitting the wood fibers apart along the wood grain of the lumber being fastened. You may naturally want to think that the nails and screws aren't sharp enough, but the problem is very much the opposite---the fasteners are too sharp. Slightly rounded tips tend to crush the wood fibers rather than drive them apart. To ameliorate your problem, select different fasteners or slightly modify the fasteners you already have to prevent the wood from splitting.

Things You'll Need

  • Hammer
  • Flooring nails
  • Drill
  • Drill-bit set
  • Purchase flooring nails and hammer them into the wooden surfaces to be joined together. When selecting your flooring nails, pay special attention to the tips of the nails that will be going through the wooden surface, not the head end of the nail. The tips should be slightly pre-rounded if they are flooring nails. If you have no flooring nails and were unable to acquire such nails for your project, you will need to modify your standard wedge-tipped nails to blunt them.

  • Press the flat nail head onto a hard, flat surface. Lightly tap the sharp tip of the nail several times with the hammer to round the tip. You only want to slightly round the tip without flattening the entire nail tip. Once the nail tip has been lightly blunted in this fashion, hammer it into your wood as you normally would.

  • Use an electric drill to drill out pilot holes for nails that will be going into the wood near the edges, using a drill bit that is one or two sizes smaller than the diameters of the nails you will be using to fasten the piece of wood. Even the use of blunt-tipped nails won't prevent wood splitting when nailing along the edge of a piece of lumber. Drill the hole all the way through the top piece of wood, allowing the bit to enter the underlying wood by about 1/8 of an inch deep. Withdraw the drill bit from the pilot hole and set the drill off to the side. Use your hammer and tap the larger-diameter nail through the pilot hole, joining your two pieces of wood together.

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