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Finishing nails are used when you are concerned with the appearance of the object being constructed, for example, a cabinet in the kitchen or a bookshelf in the living area. You can use other nails for areas where neatness is less important, such as a shelf at the back of a storage shed. Hammering a finishing nail properly is a fairly simple task, but it does require the proper tools to prevent scratches or dents on the wood.
Place the nail, point down, where you want to drive it. Grip the hammer near the end of the handle with your dominant hand, while holding the nail in place with your other hand.
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Tap the nail with the hammer until the nail can stand in the wood without having to hold it. Hit the nail with the hammer until the head of the nail is about 1/8-inch from the wood surface.
Avoid scratches or hammer dents by using a nail set to finish driving the nail. Use a nail set that is the same diameter as the finishing nail. Center it on top of the nail and hit it with the hammer. Continue hammering until the nail is about 1/8-inch below the surface of the wood.
Driving the nail below the surface of the wood allows you to fill in the nail hole to preserve the appearance of the item you are working on.