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Blunt end of the nail

DThompson's picture

I want to clear something up that has been around for ages and was just recently posted on another discussion.

The question is the blunting of the tip of a nail so it will not split the wood. I have a different understanding of what is actually happening when this is practiced. I see the blunting happening when the butt end of a finishing nail is held on a piece of wood. When the sharp end is tapped you are in fact driving the butt end into the wood breaking the surface and creating a shallow hole. The nail is turned around and the sharp end is driven into the same hole where the first 1/8' of the wood's surface has not been broken and which prevents splits. I do this all the time, as anyone knows you can get the same result from drilling a hole in the material.

I think long ago a carpenter observed some one blunting the end of a nail and misinterpreted what was being done. I might be wrong but I could never see how blunting the end of a nail alone prevents splitting.

(post #63513, reply #1 of 25)

Jury is still out on this but, blunting the nail pushes ( theoretically) a path of clearance, not divide the fibers, therefore REDUCING splitting, not avoiding.

Try a cut nail in the same spot as a wire nail, and if ya blunt a wire nail..don't do it right where ya intend to drive it.

It does work better about 50% of the time.

What I have done ( damn I need a hobby) LOOK at a drawn wire nail closely..the point has 4 apex's (apeis?) 2 are sharp, 2 are dull..set the sharp edges across the grain..they cut vs. spread the rings of growth..that does help when hand nailing thin mouldings.

 


Spheramid Enterprises Architectural Woodworks


Repairs, Remodeling, Restorations. 


 


 

www.richmondrenovationsandrestoration.com  

(post #63513, reply #2 of 25)

Here's the explanation I've heard.  When a sharp point is nailed in, the point acts as a wedge, driving apart the fibers.  Wood splits as the fibers are wedged apart.  If an blunt nail is driven in, it does not wedge the fibers apart as much.  The blunt end punches the fibers, bending them over and breaking them off, with an effect more like punching a hole in paper with a paper punch.

(post #63513, reply #3 of 25)

I've been blunting the ends of nails for years. When I'm driving a blunted nail, there is no sharp end. A blunted end cuts through the wood, unlike a point, which spreads things, which can lead to splitting. It doesn't matter if I blunt the nail where I'm driving it, or on a rock out in the yard. The countersinking thing can be effected with a well placed hammer smack.

I'm lazy, blunting makes things easier or I would'nt do it<G>

Don't worry, we can fix that later!

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Chapel Hill, NC

 

We'll have a kid Or maybe we'll rent one He's got to be straight We don't want a bent one He'll drink his baby brew From a big brass cup Someday he may be president If things loosen up

(post #63513, reply #4 of 25)

  I've never driven a nail in the same spot it was blunted on.


  I usually blunt it on some scrap of wood or another nail head.


  It works- I think for a combination of reasons already given.

(post #63513, reply #8 of 25)

Shep,


I'm with you on this...I never want to beat on any finish material, and don't see how slaming the head into the piece is not going to make a bigger hole.


I have used a previously driven nail for a place to 'rest when struck'  and like that method best, as it sets the other nail at the same time.


Peace

(post #63513, reply #5 of 25)

By blunting, the tip is no longer sharp. Instead of pushing the fibers apart like a wedge, it tears them slightly, just enough to help prevent splitting. You don't blunt the nail by hitting it against the spot you intend to place it. It is better done on a hard surface so you get a nice little square tip. It does work more often than not. Many gun nails, flooring nails and horse shoe nails are made with square tips for the same reason. On woodwork it is usually only used on the ends of boards where splitting is most likely. Try it, you'll see the difference.

Beat it to fit / Paint it to match

Beat it to fit / Paint it to match

(post #63513, reply #6 of 25)

Dave


Blunt the nail and/or lay the nail flat on the wood with the head just endward of where you are going to drive it. Whack the edge of the nail into the wood and drive the nail just upstream of the line forced in to the wood by the nailhead.


On real splitty wood I'll use the nailhead edge trick, then cut half the point off and set the resulting chisel point across the grain. If it splits that bad, though, I won't drive the head down flush, just till it's down tight.


SamT


SamT
A Pragmatic Classical Liberal, aka Libertarian.

I'm always right!
Except when I'm not.

(post #63513, reply #7 of 25)

david.. i've never blunted a finish nail in my life.. we often blunt common nails.. we use a lot of hot dipped galv. commons for painted trim..


 i use another nail head as my anvil, turn the nail upside down and strike the point with my hammer to blunt them


and like  sphere.. we used to use a  lot  of galv. cut nails .. which seldom split .. and are perfectly blunt


Mike Smith   Rhode Island : Design / Build / Repair / Restore

Mike Smith   Rhode Island : Design / Build / Repair / Restore

(post #63513, reply #9 of 25)

OK...so we all agree about blunting the head of a nail so as not to split the wood.
Why then am I told by countless amts of people that before I nail my wide plank eastern white pine with blunt tipped rose head nails need to pre drill?

the floor in my living room that I finished last winter....I never predrilled other than at the butt ends with no problems.
Be well
andy

The secret of Zen in two words is, "Not always so"!


When we meet, we say, Namaste'..it means..



  I honor the place in you where the entire universe resides,





I honor the place in you of love, of light, of truth, of peace.



I honor the place within you where if you are in that place in you



and I am in that place in me, there is only one of us.



 







 



 




http://CLIFFORDRENOVATIONS.COM

(post #63513, reply #10 of 25)

Simon,

I can tell ya why. OLD cut nails, and the NEW Roseheads were/are not hardened like Concrete cut nails. Predrilling is so the nail don't BEND. concrete cuts don't needa pilot hole.

Fifty bucks please.

 


Spheramid Enterprises Architectural Woodworks


Repairs, Remodeling, Restorations. 


 


 

www.richmondrenovationsandrestoration.com  

(post #63513, reply #11 of 25)

Yeh, but as I said....I nailed down the entire living room "without
pre- drilling other than at the butt ends.
that'll cost ya a hundred bucks....look at all the time I saved ya...lol
andy

The secret of Zen in two words is, "Not always so"!


When we meet, we say, Namaste'..it means..



  I honor the place in you where the entire universe resides,





I honor the place in you of love, of light, of truth, of peace.



I honor the place within you where if you are in that place in you



and I am in that place in me, there is only one of us.



 







 



 




http://CLIFFORDRENOVATIONS.COM

(post #63513, reply #12 of 25)

Moses,

you got lucky.

6,000 sheckles and 1/3 ton of manna.

 


Spheramid Enterprises Architectural Woodworks


Repairs, Remodeling, Restorations. 


 


 

www.richmondrenovationsandrestoration.com  

(post #63513, reply #13 of 25)

you keep forgetting the Hindu side of me....
Be Krishna
andy das

The secret of Zen in two words is, "Not always so"!


When we meet, we say, Namaste'..it means..



  I honor the place in you where the entire universe resides,





I honor the place in you of love, of light, of truth, of peace.



I honor the place within you where if you are in that place in you



and I am in that place in me, there is only one of us.



 







 



 




http://CLIFFORDRENOVATIONS.COM

(post #63513, reply #14 of 25)

LOL

battitsava bro'

 


Spheramid Enterprises Architectural Woodworks


Repairs, Remodeling, Restorations. 


 


 

www.richmondrenovationsandrestoration.com  

(post #63513, reply #15 of 25)

why am I not surprised that Andy Clifford is posting in a thread devoted to "blunts"?

Marine Engineer

(post #63513, reply #16 of 25)

An alternate method is to cut the tip of the nail off with nippers.


This produces sort of a wide 2 faced wedge instead of a 4 faced wedge.


Then drive the nail so that the wedge is is oriented perpendicular to the grain.

(post #63513, reply #17 of 25)

Good lord man,


Why aren't the manufacturers selling blunted nails?


 

 

(post #63513, reply #18 of 25)

  What, and give up one of our few remaining secrets?


  Then any homeowner could drive a nail without splitting the wood.


 We'd be out of business.


 


  Don't rock the boat!

(post #63513, reply #19 of 25)

Has anyone ever tried blunting a strip of pneumatic nails with a file or grinder?

(post #63513, reply #20 of 25)

They allow you to have a file in prison Martha? Let alone a nailer...

(post #63513, reply #21 of 25)

I tried..wound up with friggin 'coronas'...what a waste of time.

BTW..peel that paper that says 'paslode' off first..that glue'll kill ya.

OH..and the other Martha..ya know, 34b, she said to knock it off..less ya want the wrath of Christmas past to invade your chicken coop..wass up wid dat?

 


Spheramid Enterprises Architectural Woodworks


Repairs, Remodeling, Restorations. 


 


 

www.richmondrenovationsandrestoration.com  

(post #63513, reply #23 of 25)

Huh? I AM the real Martha.

(post #63513, reply #22 of 25)

That is it, I have heard enough, a major in depth symposium to deal with this question needs to be organized forthwith. And I propose to organize it so hear ye. The first 'Blunt Nail Symposium' will be held in August 2005 in beautiful downtown Whitehorse, Yukon Territory.

Contributions will be accepted in any form from any source to examine this thorny issue. Slo-mo videos or practical demos will be appreciated, unemotional lectures will be considered. Smoke and mirrors will be disqualified.

Postings will keep you all informed.

(post #63513, reply #24 of 25)

yes both finish and 8 penny works real well


Dan

(post #63513, reply #25 of 25)

If you look at a nail tip carefully you will notice that 2 of the opposing edges are sharp and 2 are less so and form a wedge. If you turn the nail so the sharp edges cross the grain, the nail will cut the fibers and almost never end split. If you drive the same nail orientated 90 degrees, the nail will wedge the wood fibers and split the end most times.

Look at a 16d first, it's easier to see the knife vs the wedge configuration.

Another old carpenter trick for hardwood trim. was to drill a 1/2" or 3/4" hole in the butt end of your hammer, fill it with bee wax, stick the tip end of the finish nail in the bees wax and then drive it into the predrilled undersize hole, thus preventing splits. not much need for that now with gun nailing.

Never serious, but always right.
Never serious, but always right.