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WORKING with Cut nails

Health & safety

Manufacture of cut nails involves a guillotine action on mild steel which means that cut nails have sharp edges on all four sides of the shank so care should be taken when handling the nails.

The point of a cut nail is blunt. Very occasionally, a malformed nail with a sharp point might get through our stringent checking process. If such a nail is found, it should be disposed of immediately in such a way that will avoid injury.


Normally, cut nails are used in conjunction with wood.

You will notice that cut nails all have a flat rectangular point. This allows the nail to punch its way through the timber fibres rather than causing the wood to split which often happens with diamond pointed round wire nails for example.

It is important also to place the nail across the grain of the wood to avoid splitting.

For larger nails, we recommend that holes are pre-drilled in the timber slightly undersize from the width of the nail.

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Floor brad can be used with tongued and grooved flooring in such a way as to hide the nails.

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Driving (Hammering)

When driving a nail through wood, it is better to begin by using short tapping strokes until the nail has a secure feel as it travels through the wood before applying heavier blows to drive it home.  This should reduce the chances of bending the nail. 

If the nail is bent backwards and forwards several times because the nail has gone squint, the metal will be weakened and the nail may split leaving a broken point in the wood which may be difficult to extract.

This issue is more relevant when 'hard' as a opposed to 'soft' wood is being used and in increasingly dense autoclaved aerated concrete block. Where a problem occurs, pre-drilling as described above may be the answer.


Clinching a nail means that the shank is bent over by 90 after the nail has passed through the timber to anchor the nail in place. This is possible when the nail is cut hot.

Clinching is common in boat building and restoration work.

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Please ensure that you mention that the nail must be clinched when ordering if it is important.


Where a mild steel nail is being used in a damp or marine environment, we can offer a hot dip galvanised finish. In this process, the zinc and the steel bind together to give a protective coating that should last around 40 years.

It should be noted that, in restoration work, a galvanised nail can stain wood due to the chemical reaction between the wood and the zinc. This particularly affects oak.





Copyright   Glasgow Steel Nail Co 1997- All rights reserved