If youre looking to attach trim, molding, or mitered corners without leaving a noticeable hole, the best dip nails can help.

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What to Consider When Choosing the Best Dip Nail

Dip nails are an essential tool for the home renovator. These nails, which are also called pin nails, are small pieces of metal that can be pounded into wood to provide a fast and sturdy connection. The best dip nails are strong, durable, and easy to use.

Type

There are two types of dip nails: round-head and square-head. Round-head dip nails have a slightly rounded head, while square-head nails have a more angular head.

  • Round-head dip nails come in a variety of sizes from inch to inch in diameter. Theyre typically longer than square-head nails so they can drive into wood more easily. This makes them stronger than square-head nails, though they’re not as powerful as large round-head nails.
  • Square-head dip nails are considerably shorter than round-head nails, ranging in length from inch to about inch. They may or may not have a flattened end (which is less likely with square-head nails). Square-head nails arent as strong as round-head nails, but they can still provide a reasonably secure connection in most applications.

Intended Use

The main difference between round-head and square-head dip nails is how their heads are designed. With round-head nails, the head is slightly larger than the shaft, whereas with square-head nails, the head is more closely matched to the size of the nail.

This difference has a major impact on the intended use of these tools. With round-head nails, the head provides more grip, making them easier to drive into denser materials like oak and maple. As the head is smaller, round-head nails can be driven into place with more force than with square-head nails, providing a more stable and robust connection.

With square-head nails, the opposite is true. The more closely matched head to shaft size means more friction, making it harder to drive these nails into dense materials. However, the more powerful impact of a square-head nail can still drive these through relatively quickly.

Material

Both round-head and square-head nails are made of steel, but the quality of the steel differs. With round-head nails, the head is usually formed by simply flattening the tip of the nail, whereas with square-head nails, the head and shaft are forged as one piece.

Flattened tips tend to wear out faster than full-round heads. Full-round heads are more durable because they dont have exposed edges that can cut into the material being joined. This is particularly important when driving multiple nails into hardwoods.

Length

The length of a dip nail is a crucial factor to consider. Longer nails can reach places where a shorter nail cant, such as inside a tight corner. Theyll also provide a more secure and robust connection than shorter nails in denser materials.

However, longer nails are more difficult to drive into the desired location, especially if the material is hardwood. The increased friction caused by the long nail can actually weaken the connection, causing it to break sooneran undesirable outcome for any project.

Additional Features

While both round-head and square-head nails can be supplied plain (simply ironed onto the shaft), many manufacturers opt to include additional features.

  • Round-head nails often have a swagged design around the top half of the shaft, which looks like a series of deep indents. These are known as rosettes, and they help to prevent the nail from splitting apart once inserted.
  • Square-head nails may include a flattened tip to help them fit into tight corners.
  • Some square-head nails also come fitted with a washer, which helps to spread the load across a wider surface area.