Introduction: Brilliant Angle Nail Trick From Old Carpenter

Picture of Brilliant Angle Nail Trick From Old Carpenter

after publishing this instructable i realized that the nail trick shown in it was quite unknown but appreciated by many.

Now it gets its own instructable and I dedicate it to the old swedish carpenter called Henry, that tought it to me a couple of years ago!

it makes nailing in angles much easier

the nail curves and will be almost impossible to remove - a incredibly strong connection.

Step 1: Bending the Nail

Picture of Bending the Nail

slightly bend the lower end of the nail between your hammers claw.

it should be an obtuse angle - the picture shows it very well.

Step 2: Nailed It!

Picture of Nailed It!

hammer in the nail with the bend part down

- you start horizontally and the nail will move up by itself with every hit.

the gif shows how the nail moves under every hit of the hammer.

It was quite tricky to take pictures while hitting a nail ( yes, I missed once :D) - but it turned out ok ;)

Step 3: The Result

Picture of The Result

i split the joined pieces in order to show how the nail curves inside.

the result will be even better with longer nails - but i ran out of them ;)

if you're nailing a beam from both sides and with more than 1 nail on each side it'll become a very strong connetion.

I hope you find this instructable useful for your future projects!

feel free to vote for it!

Kudos to Henry - YOU NAILED IT!


itsmescotty (author)2017-09-26

I DON'T toe nail. There is almost always a better way to fasten.

Kind of like Mac and PC debate

That said, if toe nailing and this works for you, go for it.

JohnW51 (author)itsmescotty2017-09-26

Pocket screws instead of toe nailing. More expensive, takes longer, but is WAY stronger if done correctly.

ElectroFrank (author)JohnW512017-09-27

What is a "pocket screw" please ?

Hooty1701 (author)ElectroFrank2017-09-27

Joinery method using the Kreg or similar system. More info here.

WayneJ6 (author)JohnW512017-09-28

Not really an option for most carpenters.

JohnW51 (author)JohnW512017-09-28

See the Kreg Tool website (link below). Other companies also make pocket screws, but Kreg is the all-around leader in making the screws and tools to install them.

MarniDarr (author)2017-10-12

Hey! That's cool! How flat can you get the nail's head to the wood? (For painting or staining purposes).

Snowberry (author)2017-10-05

Thanks, an excellent tip to keep in mind.

TammyT5 (author)2017-10-05

Loved this carpenter's trick! I will definitely be using this in all future projects. Thanks, you've got my vote!

Beargardner (author)2017-10-03

I will remember that trick. Awesome idea.

Nate5b (author)2017-10-02


Topcat2021 (author)2017-10-02

That is a neat trick / variation to the "toenail" fastening I've done many times in the past, as for all the ones that say using screws is better, I shy away from screws in framing due to the lack of shear strength (they tend to snap in a shear force) unless you're using screws designed to have shear strength equal or better than the nails you're framing with.

onlyHischild (author)2017-10-02

I forgot to say, THANK YOU, for including the photo of the cutaway.

onlyHischild (author)2017-10-02

I've utilized this many times when I didn't have, or didn't want to use screws. My problem is applying too much force and folding the nail. Usually after 4 bent nails the fifth does the trick. Live & Learn. If you're going to do something, do it correctly, or do't do it at all.

KellyCraig (author)2017-10-02

To those claiming not to toe nail, that is fine and well for many projects, but in real life framing situations, it would be absurd to avoid it.

I've been doing woodwork for a few years and I've used most joinery methods out there. I built several of my base kitchen cabinets using my Kreg jig. My upper cabinets are all brad nailed dados and rabbits. A couple of my wife's planters are finger joints and glue. Some of my framing involves both nailing and clips or plates (e.g., hangers, etc.). Every joinery method has its use.

This method would have great value in many applications too (if I could keep from folding the nail).

JerryL1206 (author)2017-10-02

I don't see how this is any stronger than a normal toenail. And a lot moe labor intensive. Either way, screws will be stronger than either toenailing or this cockamamie system. Who has time to pre-bend every nail?

itsmescotty (author)2017-09-28

Like I said earlier, I don’t toenail, forgot to mention ALL of my fasteners are Hidden. Rather than toenail when framing I nail a block on the backside, then nail to it. If all else fails I dowel then toe.
I had a high end high dollar Trex deck to fabricate and install years ago. I made my own pocket screw jig (I have the metalworking tools to do I) specific to this project.
Having worked as a marine carpenter on high end yachts I’ve become pretty ingenious when it comes to hiding fasteners.

tsturtevant (author)itsmescotty2017-10-02

I seldom use toenailing. Pocket screwing is the way to go. It's hidden, quick and less likely to break your wood. You just have to covert novices to adjust to the method then it becomes habit

Mimikry (author)2017-09-25

hmmmm... do the GIFs work? I can't see them move a bit


Mimikry (author)Mimikry2017-09-29

thanks to all - now i can see the GIFS move!

Yonatan24 (author)Mimikry2017-09-26

That might be a bug or the I'ble just hadn't finished processing completely...

They work on my computer, but are a but confusing due to the low fps. The last step clears it up, but why is this stronger that just hammering a straight nail in?

QazW2 (author)Yonatan242017-09-26

look at the final pix to see why stronger. the nail out bottom is angling outwards, two of them opposite each other are sort of like a dove tail joint ... angling straight in like normal toe-nail would allow a twist to pull opposite side "straight" out but same twist here nail bent to almost 90 degrees. might even be better than straight screws.... an engineering major could run the numbers to see what force required to strip screw in wood vs the 75 degree - 90 degree bent nail but it's a toss up by my eyeball evaluation

GuyB12 (author)QazW22017-09-27

I'm definitely with you on this one. If the cross-section had have shown the toe of the nail finishing perpendicular to the base timber then it would be a fairly crap anchor. I was surprised at that "final curve-in" right at the toe of the nail, so I tried it myself on some wall framing I'm currently doing (using off-cuts). My third test (when cross-sectioned) finished more like 60 degrees than 75. The lens on my phone is cracked otherwise I would upload a pic. Will definitely be using this technique when required in future!

SirFly (author)Yonatan242017-09-26


mmauk (author)Mimikry2017-09-26

Mimikry Three that I see are working !

KingAveGarage (author)Mimikry2017-09-26

seem to be working for me

WayneJ6 (author)2017-09-28

Great idea!

burlev (author)2017-09-27

Interesting. I used to frame houses and our rule of thumb was to use 2 - 16d nails if we were piercing the top plate or sole plate into the wall stud. If toe nailing we'd use 4 - 8d nails. I see that some areas only require 3 - 8d in this case. But, one "trick" if you don't want to split the wood is to blunt the tip of the nail so that the nail smashes its way through the wood instead of acting like a chisel and splitting the wood.

ColinD36 (author)2017-09-27

That's Brilliant. Showed a few carpenters I know and they'd never heard of or seen it before. I'm a sparky yet I'll be utilising it.

aCuriousCreator (author)2017-09-27

Genius :) will have to try this one day!

Norm1958 (author)2017-09-26

Contrary to all the technical and critical advice I would like to say thank you.

It's a great trick when there isn't room to swing back your hammer, and that happens a lot when you build every day.

I would like to see anybody pull a 2x4 out of a plate with 3 of these nails in it, maybe not technically perfect but a Hell of a struggle.

Jürek13 (author)2017-09-26

Great trick! Give big thanks to Henry!

rof (author)2017-09-26

I question the logic behind this. The whole point of 'toe-nailing' as I see someone calling it, is to join one timber orthogonally onto another - with this method the nails from both sides go into the base timber at right angles and can therefore pull out easily in a straight line. If the nails are straight and are hammered in at an angle they interlock in the base timber because they are at an angle to one another, and joint is very difficult to pull apart.

ksimolo (author)rof2017-09-26

The technique shown would work well if there are no forces like you mention. But it seems to me youa re correct.

Eh Lie Us! (author)2017-09-26

Clever trick. thanks for sharing!

gpradel (author)2017-09-26

I think this is great! I'll have to try it. Sounds like a good idea when you don't have screws or a pocket hole jig. Thanks!

KendallA1 (author)2017-09-26

I learned that a different way. I was taught to start a straight nail at a sharper angle then bend the nail down after it was driven in a ways. Then you just smack it hard and sink it. It seems to me that would be alot easier than trying to drive a bent nail from the begining.

CadenH1 (author)KendallA12017-09-26

I think that's what we learned in my construction class. Can you show us a picture?

tazmo8448 (author)2017-09-26

that'll come in very handy for those 'toe' nails for sure...thanks for the tip.

doco9 (author)2017-09-26

use screws better hold

artswaff (author)doco92017-09-26

absolutely, Doco9. You can remove it if you change your mind......or do this all day if you need to......drill a pilot hole if need be.

RBStorms (author)2017-09-26

Nice tip, nice instructable.

OrienteeringGuy (author)2017-09-26

I don't understand why the block doesn't move away when you give it the first hit. I don't see anything holding it in place.

RBStorms (author)OrienteeringGuy2017-09-26

He had already nailed in the other side. :)

Cueball21 (author)2017-09-26

Absolutely brilliant! Thanks for sharing. I've always had trouble 'toe' nailing but this trick is going in my bag.

scaeva (author)2017-09-26

Sigh. Where was this forty years ago? Brilliant, indeed.

steve12 (author)2017-09-25

I worked for over 20 years on site (carpenter/joiner) and never saw that one, Nice tip.

Jeenius (author)2017-09-25

It works fine for me. The gif, I mean.

DIY Hacks and How Tos (author)2017-09-25

Interesting. What kind of nail did you use?

About This Instructable




Bio: spiderpig, spiderpig, does whatever a spiderpig does!
More by Mimikry:Easy Pyrography OrnamentsBench From Old BeamsBrilliant Angle Nail Trick From Old Carpenter
Add instructable to: