How to Toenail With a Framing Nailer

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Toenailing, or driving a nail in diagonally to connect two boards that meet at a 90-degree angle, is a basic technique widely used in construction. Among other applications, you may need to toenail frequently when framing a wall or roughing in a door or window. While toenailing manually with a hammer can work, it is easier and usually more accurate and effective to use a pneumatic framing nailer.

Things You'll Need

  • Pneumatic framing nailer
  • Framing nails (strip or coil)
  • Load your framing nailer with the proper nails for the job. For most residential construction framing, 2.5-inch 8d framing nails work well.

  • Place the tip of the framing nailer at the insertion spot where you want the nail to enter the first board. A good spot is usually 3/4 to 1 inch from the corner where the two boards meet.

  • Tilt the nailer to about 60 degrees so that the nail will go in at an angle.

  • Pull the trigger to drive the nail diagonally through one board and into the other.

  • Repeat steps 2 through 4 to toenail the boards from the opposite side. The force of the framing nailer may jar the board slightly out of position, but placing nails on opposite sides should correct for this and allow you to secure the boards in the proper alignment. If necessary, you can tap the board into place with a hammer before and or after driving the second nail.

Tips & Warnings

  • The owner's manual for your framing nailer may include specific tips for toenailing, troubleshooting advice or general tips on optimal use.
  • Try to adjust your framing nailer and compressors to the proper pressure and performance to avoid the need to drive in partially sunken nails with a hammer, which can increase the likelihood of split or chipped lumber.
  • Always be careful with a framing nailer. Follow the manufacturer's instructions carefully and wear appropriate protective gear, such as safety glasses and steel-toed shoes.

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