Aleksandra DeKorne
Ryan Stephens

This is one that some finish carpenters already know, but I’m often surprised how many don’t: The chisel-point orientation on brad and finish nails plays a big role in nail blowouts. Chisel points on brad and finish nails for pneumatic and cordless nailers are formed by grinding a slight bevel on each side of the nail strip (see top photo at left). As the chisel point plunges through the wood, the shank will only bend to one side or another if it meets resistance (from a pin knot or change of grain or the like). That is, it bends in a direction towards the sides of the nail strip, as it sits in the magazine, but not to the front or back of the nailer. Brad nails (formed from 18-gauge wire) are most at risk, but it can happen with a stiffer 16- or 15-gauge nail, too.

A prime example is shooting the casing onto a door jamb, where the nail has to be within 3/8 inch of the edge of the casing (any further from the edge and you won’t get good purchase in the edge of the door jamb). Any sideways bend of the nail is at risk of blowing out near the reveal or the side of the jamb.

The solution: Simply orient the gun so the nailer is always perpendicular to the edge that might blow out. That means the gun needs to be horizontal to the floor, not positioned vertically, when nailing off side casings (see photo above). But at the head, the gun needs to be vertical. Once this change is made, the chisel orientation of the nail might bend into the wood (parallel to the casing), but not out.