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Best Nails

Woodworking, as an art form or a trade, requires a variety of tools and components to create quality projects. One of the most basic but essential items in a woodworker's toolbox is the humble nail. This guide reviews the best nails for woodworking in 2023, providing insights into the best options available on the market today.

Types of Nails

There are several basic types of nails, each designed for a specific purpose. The most common types include:

  • Finishing Nails: These nails have a small, slightly rounded head that is less visible when driven into wood. They are ideal for fine woodworking where you want the nail to blend into the finished piece.
  • Common Nails: These are the most versatile type of nail, used for general construction and framing. They have a larger head and are thicker than finishing nails.
  • Box Nails: Similar to common nails but thinner, box nails are less likely to split thin, delicate woods.
  • Brad Nails: These are smaller than finishing nails and are typically used in delicate tasks such as securing trim.
  • Roofing Nails: These nails have a large, flat head and a short shank. They are used, as the name suggests, in roofing applications.

Size Matters

Nails come in various sizes, often referred to as "penny sizes", denoted by the letter 'd' (e.g., 10d, 16d). This old-fashioned term originates from the cost of 100 nails in England centuries ago. A higher penny size indicates a longer nail. For example, a 16d nail is longer than a 8d nail.

Choose the length based on your woodworking project's needs. The general rule of thumb is that the nail should be three times longer than the thickness of the material it is being driven into.

Nail Material

The material your nails are made from can impact their durability and the types of projects they're suitable for. Common materials include:

  • Steel: Most nails are made from steel due to its strength. However, steel nails can rust if exposed to moisture, so they are not suitable for outdoor projects unless they are galvanized.
  • Stainless Steel: These nails resist rusting and are suitable for outdoor projects or in areas with high humidity.
  • Aluminum: These are less common and weaker than steel but are lightweight and resist rusting.
  • Copper, Brass, and Bronze: These are used for specific applications where corrosion resistance is important, or for their decorative appeal.

Coating and Treatments

Some nails undergo special treatments or have coatings to increase their durability:

  • Galvanized Nails: These have a protective zinc coating that helps resist rust and corrosion.
  • Vinyl Coated Nails: These have a plastic coating that provides extra friction to keep the nail from backing out of the wood over time.
  • Cement Coated Nails: These have a layer of cement which, when wetted by the wood's moisture, bonds with the wood fibers for a stronger hold.
  • Heat-Treated Nails: These undergo a heat treatment process to increase their strength.

Nail Heads

The shape of the nail head is also an important factor:

  • Flat Heads: These provide a large surface area for holding power.
  • Checkered Heads: These have a textured surface to keep the hammer from slipping.
  • Countersunk Heads: These are designed to be driven below the surface of the wood, ideal for projects where you want to hide the nail.
  • No-Head Nails: These are used when you don't want the nail head to be visible.

Our Top Picks 2023:

1. Maze Nails S227A-5 Double Hot Dipped Galvanized Spiral Shank Deck Nail

Maze Nails S227A-5

Maze Nails has a long-standing reputation for manufacturing top-quality nails, and the S227A-5 is no exception. This nail is double hot-dipped galvanized, providing an extra layer of protection against rust and corrosion. The spiral shank design enhances holding power, making it perfect for deck installations and outdoor woodworking projects.

2. B&C Eagle A312X131HDRC Round Head 3-1/2-Inch x .131 x 22 Degree Hot Dip Galvanized Ring Shank Plastic Collated Framing Nails

B&C Eagle A312X131HDRC

Perfect for heavy-duty framing and construction, these nails from B&C Eagle are impressively sturdy. The hot dip galvanized finish gives them excellent corrosion resistance, while the ring shank provides superior holding power. Plastic collation ensures smooth, jam-free driving.

3. Metabo HPT Finish Nails, 16 Gauge

Metabo HPT Finish Nails, 16 Gauge

Metabo's 16 gauge finish nails are exceptional for woodworking projects requiring a clean, polished look. With their slim, straight shanks and small, rounded heads, these nails are practically invisible once driven into the wood. They are also made from high-quality steel, ensuring strength and reliability.

4. DEWALT DW16S2-28GAL 2-Inch 16 Gauge Galvanized Straight Finish Nails


DEWALT is a trusted name in the tool industry, and their 16 gauge straight finish nails live up to the company's reputation. These nails are ideal for fine woodworking tasks, such as cabinetry or furniture construction. The galvanized finish provides excellent corrosion resistance.

5. Grip-Rite GR408HG Round Head 3-1/2-Inch by .131-Inch by 21 Degree Plastic Collated Hot-Dip-Galvanized Framing Nail

Grip-Rite GR408HG

This nail is ideal for framing, decking, and general construction. The hot-dip galvanized finish ensures durability in any weather condition, while the plastic collated style offers jam-free operation. With a diameter of .131 inches and length of 3-1/2 inches, it's excellent for heavy-duty projects.

6. Hitachi 24102S 1-Inch x23 Gauge Electro-Galvanized Headless Pins

Hitachi 24102S 1-Inch x23 Gauge Electro-Galvanized Headless Pins

For delicate woodworking jobs, the Hitachi 24102S headless pins are an excellent choice. These nails are almost invisible once installed, making them perfect for fine woodworking applications such as trim work and cabinetry. The electro-galvanized finish provides a good level of protection against rust.

7. Freeman SNRSHDG92-2WC 15 Degree 2" Ring Shank Wire Collated Hot Dipped Galvanized Coil Siding Nails

Freeman SNRSHDG92-2WC

Freeman's 2" ring shank siding nails are perfect for outdoor projects. The hot dipped galvanized finish provides excellent resistance to rust and corrosion. The wire collated coil allows for easy, jam-free loading in most coil siding nailers.

8. Simpson Strong-Tie S10SNDB 10d x 3" HDG Nails

Simpson Strong-Tie S10SNDB 10d x 3

These nails from Simpson Strong-Tie are perfect for framing and general construction. The 10d x 3" size is ideal for most residential projects, and the hot-dip galvanized finish provides excellent protection against corrosion. The smooth shank ensures easy driving into most types of wood.


Each of these nails offers unique benefits, and the best one for you will depend on your specific woodworking needs. From the almost invisible finish of the Metabo HPT and Hitachi nails, to the heavy-duty holding power of the Maze and B&C Eagle nails, there's something for everyone in this list.

Choosing the right nail is crucial to the success and durability of your woodworking project. Consider the type of wood you're working with, the intended use of the finished product, and the specific requirements of the project before making a decision. Also, remember to always prioritize safety when using any sort of tool or hardware.

To conclude, the woodworking industry has seen a lot of innovations in recent years. However, the importance of using quality nails can't be overstated. The right nail not only ensures the durability and stability of your projects but also improves the overall finish and aesthetics. Whether you're a DIY enthusiast or a professional woodworker, investing in the right nails is an essential step towards achieving the best results.