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Nail the horizontal 2x4 into the vertical 2x4 about 1/4 of the way down from the top of the vertical 2x4, so they are at a 90 degree angle.

The way I've been nailing this scenario is to just nail through the vertical 2x4 at a 0 degree angle, directly into the middle of the end piece of the horizontal 2x4.

I've read though, that the pros like nail at a 45 degree angle, so that the nail doesn't go through the end piece of the horizontal 2x4, but through the top part. Is this correct? I don't like having the end part of the nail stick out.. even if I hammer the sharp point towards the wood.

So are my projects going to not last long if nailing directly into the end piece? They seem to work just fine for the time being, but am wondering what the correct approach is. Thoughts on this?

Obviously I'd have another vertical 2x4 on the other side too, so it stands up.

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* Ignore the green and red brush lines, accidentally saved over what I wanted

6

Nails are generally put in at 90 degrees to the wood (i.e. straight in), unless you are "toe-nailing". (see picture)

Toenailing

It all really depends on the application. As opposed to just nailing straight in, like if you were nailing together a built-up beam (face nailing) - Toe nailing the wood is usually not bearing much or any weight on the nails, they are holding wood in place.

Nailing terms

If the wood is going to be horizontal and bearing weight, face-nailing parallel members is good. However, for perpendicular members, I would want structural hardware in end nailed or toe-nailed pieces (joist hangers, angle brackets, etc.).

I've read though, that the pros like nail at a 45 degree angle, so that the nail doesn't go through the end piece of the horizontal 2x4, but through the top part. Is this correct? I don't like having the end part of the nail stick out.. even if I hammer the sharp point towards the wood.

If the nail sticks out the other end, you should use shorter nails.

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  • I disagree I was taught that a nail at a 90 is the weakest joint and to angle when making structural reinforcements. – Ed Beal Jun 13 '18 at 15:56
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    @EdBeal disagree with which part of what I have said, specifically? – ryanwinchester Jun 13 '18 at 17:48
  • Nails should not be driven at a 90 in fact opposing 30 degree angles were the strongest from structural engineering classes. – Ed Beal Jun 13 '18 at 21:17
  • You mean for face-nailing? Because that's how you do it according to pretty much any building-code, which is decided on by engineers or at least engineer recommendations. Or do you mean toe-nailing? In what application? Holding vertical framing studs or horizontal floor joists attaching to a beam? – ryanwinchester Jun 14 '18 at 1:39
  • @EdBeal For horizontal applications, end-nailing I would never rely on, I would rather rely on toe-nailing, but in reality I would never rely solely on either and would use hardware for that purpose. Like a joist or beam hanger. – ryanwinchester Jun 14 '18 at 1:45
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am wondering what the correct approach is

I don't think there is a single correct approach. It really depends on the application and on personal preference.

Hammering nails in at an angle can help them to resist forces that run in the same direction as a nail hammered in at 90 degrees to the wood.

For building construction, in my part of the world, builders tend to join structural timbers using purpose-made bent perforated metal plates that go by various names (e.g. "gang nail plates", "spike plates", "joist hangers", "truss clip" ...).

When using 2x4s to make a gate I joined them using conventional woodworking joints† and waterproof glue.

If you are fixing a noggin (or fire-stop) to a stud, I believe they are usually fixed by driving nails through the studs into the ends of the noggins.

You should probably work out the likely direction and magnitude of stresses on the joint and make a decision based on that and other factors.


Footnote

† I've seen mortice & tenon, lap-joints, dowels and other types of joint used.

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1

For structural applications, I prefer framing angles because:

  • End grain nailing is almost always poor practice.

  • Good quality toenailing is often difficult to achieve for people who are out of practice, e.g. non-carpenters working on a one-off joint.

  • Framing angles can reduce the need to hold a piece in place while making the first fastening.

  • Framing angles typically use shorter fasteners which are easy to install.

  • Deciding how to join two pieces of wood is a matter of selecting components at the store or in front of an online catalog, rather than during actual construction.

  • Because they are engineered, framing angles more easily provide consistent joints.

Simpson StrongTie and USP are two companies which produce such products for the US and other markets.

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0

When "end nailing," place the wood on a flat surface (such as, for example, a concrete pad that you poured to later put the wall on) and stand squarely on the piece furthest from the hammer (with your steel-toed boots). This keeps the wood more stable as you drive the nail in.

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