Nails and Screws for Furniture

I have received quite a few requests to publish the list of fasteners that I discussed in episode numbers HTT018 and HTT019 of the podcast. So I’m listing everything out here for easy future reference.


I keep a pretty simple selection of cut nails on hand. For the type of work that I do, I don’t use drawn wire nails, ever. They’re pretty useless for anything buy applying the moldings in your house, and even then their holding ability is questionable. At any given time, I will typically have about 9 different types of nails in my nail box.

Fine Cut Finish Nails

Fine cut finish nails are probably the most used nails in my shop.

Fine Cut Finish Nails

I use these most often for joining parts when I want the nails to blend in and kind of disappear. For example, if I’m building a six board chest, and I don’t want the nails to stand out and scream “I’m a nail!”, I’ll use fine cut finish nails. I keep a selection on hand in 3d, 4d, and 6d. This covers me in stock from 3/8″ to 3/4″ thick.

Headless Cut Brads

Headless cut brads are for attaching moldings and stock thinner than 3/8″.

Headless Cut Brads

These tiny little nails all but disappear when nailed flush with the surface of the wood. I use them most often for attaching small moldings to my pieces, but I will also occasionally use them for attaching the backs/bottoms on small boxes, drawers and trays. Think stock thinner than 3/8″ thick where a larger finish nail would be overkill and might split the stock. I keep a selection of these on hand in 2d, 3d, and 4d.

Wrought Head Nails

Designed to look like blacksmith made nails, wrought head nails get used when I want to show off the nails.

Wrought Head Nails

These nails are used as a decorative element when I do want the nail to stand out and scream “I’m a nail!” I use them most often in boarded furniture like six boards chests and five board benches, and also for case backs when the back of the case might occasionally be seen. They just add a nice bit of visual interest to the piece. I keep these on hand in 4d and 6d.

Clinch Nails

Like the wrought head nails, clinch nails have a large, decorative head, but these are more malleable allowing them to be bent over and clinched on the back side of the board.

Clinch Nails

These nails are more malleable than the wrought head nails so I keep them on hand for clinching. While I prefer the look of the wrought head nail to these non traditional “rose head” clinch nails, I have been experimenting with reforging the heads of these nails with some success using a propane torch and small piece of steel as an anvil. I haven’t quite perfected the technique yet, but when I do I’ll be sure to share it with you. Clinching requires that the nail be bent back on itself and hammered into the back side of the wood, creating what is in effect a locking staple. It’s a very strong connection, but requires nails that are quite a bit longer than usual. For this reason, I only keep these in stock in 8d. Also, because I have these nails in 8d, I don’t feel a need to keep the wrought head nails in 8d as I will just use the clinch nails when I need a longer nail.

Wood Screws

Just a few of the different styles of slotted wood screws that are in my box. You won’t find any Phillips or square drive screws in here.


I tend to keep a much better supply of cut nails on hand for the work that I do than I do screws. There are a couple of reasons for this. First, I much prefer the look of nails when a fastener has to show, such as when attaching a case back or when building boarded furniture like six board chests and five board benches. Second, even when I do try to keep some screws on hand, I find that when I need them for a particular application, I almost never have the exact size that I want/need. Because screw selection varies by multiple factors (diameter, length, and head type) there are just too many variations for me to keep a good selection on hand. Plus, I most often use screws when attaching hardware like hinges and pulls, and in these cases, the correct screws are usually provided with the hardware. If they’re not, I just order the screws I need when I order the hardware.

So all of this is a long winded way to say that I don’t have a good list of screws that I recommend you keep on hand. Instead, I’d recommend that you buy your screws as you need them so you can choose the correct screw for the application.

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