I'm building a small wooden foundation for a new shed (pic below, joints in question highlighted). I'll be using wood screws to put it all together. My question is simple, should I be screwing through the perpendicular piece into the butt of the other piece ( =|| <##)? Or try to toenail the screw from the butt piece into the cross piece ( ##> =|| but a toenail angle)?

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  • should i just butt screw it all and liquid nail all the connections?
    – CDspace
    Jun 21, 2020 at 4:51

2 Answers 2


My experience is that if you use a pre-drilled hole that includes a countersink using a tapered drill bit like this:

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Picture Source

...that it can be very easy to use 2 1/2" or 3" length deck type screws in either toe screw application or thru to end grain joining. If toe screwing is done properly with three screws it is ultimately stronger then screwing into the end grain of the wood at the butt joint. It does take some extra care to make sure that when tow screwing that you keep the member aligned with your layout marks. Often times I have found it useful to pre-drill all three pilot holes (two from one side and one on the other) and then start all the screws together. This way there will be less tendency for one of the angled screws to try to pull the piece off the line.

When using screw construction like this I prefer to use stainless steel screws with a square drive bit. Large screws with a Torx drive are also OK but can strip easier than a square drive in my opinion and experience. I also keep two power tools handy at the work site, one with the pilot drill and the other with the screw driver bit. I also prefer the screw driver tool to be a unit specifically designed for driving screws as they generally have lower RPM (more gear reduction) and thus more driving torque even at low speed selected on the variable speed trigger.

  • i don't have those drill bits, but i can counter sink my pilot holes. But you still haven't said which is best, butt screws or toe nail screws? I want to do just two butt screws into the cross piece end grain
    – CDspace
    Jun 21, 2020 at 4:46
  • I have brass looking screws, copper in color. I can check the actual numbers tomorrow
    – CDspace
    Jun 21, 2020 at 4:48
  • @CDspace The generic construction screws are not really good for use in exposed (i.e. outdoor) construction which is what it sounds like you have. You should also used pressure treated wood for this base. Jun 21, 2020 at 13:31
  • @UnhandledExcepSean I did get pressure treated wood. I have some screws that I think are outdoor rated. I'll have to check, but they have a grey power like coating?
    – CDspace
    Jun 21, 2020 at 14:01
  • @CDspace - For treated lumber you have to make sure to use screws that are rated compatible with treated lumber. I also gave my opinion on my evaluation of the toe screwing being stronger. Depending upon the width of your framing lumber two screws will not be enough to hold the butt joints together, For 2x6 I would say use four screws. 2x8 use five screws and 2x10 use six or seven screws. Also realize that screws into end grain are very weak and easy to spin out if only using 3" or 3.5" screws. If you want joints that will stay together in then I suggest using (continued)
    – Michael Karas
    Jun 21, 2020 at 17:11

I would screw in from the perpendicular piece directly into the butt of the joist. The only reason for toe-nailing or screw at an angle is because you don't have access to do the straight in screwing.

  • those short pieces indeed, I can't toe nail those
    – CDspace
    Jun 21, 2020 at 4:50

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