A.Scott Smith, vice president of nail manufacturer Prime Source Building Products, responds: A box nail has a smaller gauge shank than a common nail. For example, while a 10d (3-inch long) common nail has a 9-gauge (0.148-inch diameter) shank, a 10d box nail has a 10 1/2-gauge (0.125-inch diameter) shank, which is thinner. Because a box nail is lighter than a common nail, it has less shear strength.

Cooler and sinker nails also have a smaller gauge shank than a common nail, but not as small as the shank of a box nail. 10d sinkers and 10d coolers are both a little shorter (2 7/8 inches), and have an 11-gauge (0.120-inch diameter) shank. Sinker and cooler nails are usually resin-coated; the resin acts as a lubricant as the nail is driven and...

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