I'm building an octagonal freestanding deck and having trouble figuring out how to attach some 2x6 floor joists to a rim joist at a 45° angle without having to buy angled joist hangers for $6-$11 a piece (I'll need 6 total).

Is toe-nailing sufficient here? I would probably use 8d nails so they don't poke through or split the boards, maybe 3 on a side. Is there some other kind of (inexpensive) hanger I can use? Or an "ancient" (meaning before the advent of joist hangers) technique that could help me?

Deck Plan 45° joist connections[1]

  • The building code for decks can get quite complex. You say "freestanding", so if it is indeed freestanding and not attached to a building and is not very high off the ground then there is some room for leniency (IMHO, but I am not a structural engineer). But in general, this would be a question for your local building department to find out what is recommended and what is required. Nov 6 '19 at 5:45
  • 1
    I'm not worried about building codes, they shouldn't apply in this situation, just load bearing and safety. It stands between one and two feet off the ground. Nov 6 '19 at 5:50
  • That fits my definition of "is not very high off the ground" - i.e., low enough that a fall wouldn't usually be that big a deal. If it was me, I'd consider screws rather than nails - though I've seen some extensive discussions on the merits of screws vs. nails for various building projects. Nov 6 '19 at 6:02

Of course your deck is governed by the Code.

The Code regulates all construction, unless it’s non-structural, (i.e.: carpet, paint, etc.) All work (projects) are reviews for 1) building compliance (height, size, guardrails, stairs, etc.), 2) fire code (setbacks, etc.), 3) structural, 4) energy use, if applicable

Under “structural”, Table 2304.9.1 Fasteners applies. As you’ll see in Item #29, you’ll see joists fastened to band joist or rim joists can be by:

  1. 3 - 16d common face nailed, or

  2. 4 - 10d box face nailed, or

  3. 4 - 3” x 0.131” face nailed, or

  4. 4 - 3” 14 gage staples with 7/16” crown face nailed

Nowhere do they allow toe-nailing for this type of installation.

Btw, if your deck surface is less than 30” above the adjacent surface, then no guardrails are required.

Also, if there are 3 risers or less, then no handrail is required.

If you decided using joist hangers would be simpler, you can use Simpson SUR Series, as seen here:


If the deck becomes attached to your house, you’ll need a minimum of 2 Simpson deck ties, similar to


  • I'm a little confused: it says one can use nails to fasten the joists, but then you say it says nothing about toe-nailing - how would one use nails to fasten the joists together other than with toe-nailing? You're not suggesting end nailing? Nov 6 '19 at 16:17
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    So you know, some of us are a little less worried about over-complicated code for a short deck and more about reasonable safety and engineering. The code lessons were a nice gesture but I am really more interested in a structural answer than a legal one. Thank you though. Nov 6 '19 at 16:23
  • @JesseYishai Yes, “face nailing” is the same as “end nailing”.
    – Lee Sam
    Nov 6 '19 at 16:51
  • @JesseYishai So you want a “reasonable” solution? Who is going to say it’s reasonable? If you use a “proven” solution, I’d say it’s “reasonable”. Design is based on ultimate loads, not common loads. Yes, toe-nailing will hold the board in place, but when you have all your friends over for your birthday party, be sure to ask them to stay away from that corner.
    – Lee Sam
    Nov 6 '19 at 16:58
  • So end nailing is stronger than toe-nailing? I thought it was the opposite? If not is there a 3rd solution? Nov 6 '19 at 18:13

I used "deck" screws in my deck in which most connections are at 45 degrees ; no problem after 20+ years. The few places I used hangers , they rusted away so I put in stainless deck screws , 5 years -no problem.

  • I agree, at least for this short span scenario. Along with the screws, the decking itself ties everything together with a good lap.
    – isherwood
    Nov 6 '19 at 17:23
  • Stainless steel screws are the way to go. And they can be had much more reasonably priced thru on-line fastener suppliers than the big box stores.
    – peinal
    Nov 6 '19 at 17:32
  • Did you screw them in from the ends or from inside in a toe-nail type orientation? Nov 6 '19 at 18:15
  • I used various geometries , it is many connections. Mostly the screws went into the cut 45 on one board into second board so most of the threads were holding in the second board.Very few "toenail" type connections. Nov 7 '19 at 15:52

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