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Topic: Baltic Birch nailing question
Message: Posted by: The Magic Ref (Feb 19, 2011 07:02PM)
Hi all, You have said that Baltic Birch plywood is a good wood to use to make magic props/boxes etc. I agree the wood is nice and thin and strong. My problem is I no nothing about woodworking.. LOL..

Even though I'm using very thin brad nails and wood glue to make my box, the nail splits the 1/4 inch plywood. Someone told me to pre drill the nail holes. Is this what you guys do? I'm talking about tiny brad nails. I was looking at my old Abbotts Zombie box. It looks like the same thickness of wood, and I can see the nails so I know they used nails. So do I predrill or is there an eaiser way? THANKS!
Message: Posted by: Magic Researcher (Feb 19, 2011 08:25PM)
Try a pneumatic pin nailer. I use a Porter-Cable nailer with 23ga pins and have no splits. These pins are headless and the wood" heals" over the pin. The pins come in a variety of lengths.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Feb 19, 2011 09:44PM)
You don't need to spend the money on a nailer (I don't own one), even though it would work well.

If you are nailing into the edge of 1/4" Baltic Birch, I'll assume you are also nailing THROUGH a piece the same thickness.

First of all, make sure you are using VERY thin brads... #18, #19, or #20 will do. #17 and #16 are probably too thick for this thickness of wood. 3/4" length is plenty.

Next, make sure the work piece is stablized. Have the joint clamped whenever possible, but be sure there is solid ground under the piece. There is nothing that will make this harder than trying to drive a nail into a spongey workpiece.

It helps to start the brad in the first piece before you marry the two pieces. If you are running a series of brads up the length (in most cases you will), then start them all before bringing the glue joints together. Be sure to drive them straight into the wood, so they will run dead center and not fade to one side or the other. I ALWAYS use a pair of needle nose pliers to set brads. This helps align them, but also gives the brad support so it doesn't bend. Slight bends will cause a nail to turn like a curve ball when it's hammered home.

IF a nail does want to pop through the side, it is better to stop before driving it all the way home, so that you can pull it and start a new nail in a slightly different position. Never attempt to reuse a brad that you've had problems with or had to pull. Just throw it away and get a new one, even if it looks good. If a nail does pop through the side and you can't remove it without further damage to the wood, just keep your fingers crossed that it is on the outside where you can sand it away and paint over it. :)

DO NOT attempt to nail a brad too close to the end of a board, especially at a corner. Nothing will be gained in strength, so stay at least 3/4" away from the corner.

Pre-drilling is something that I only do if I plan to use the brad as a pivot hinge, and not for a secure joint. It can be done, though. But, I usually figure if I have to pre-drill for a nail, the nail is too long. (Screws are a different story).

A trick I learned from my Grandpa many moons ago is to poke the nail in a bar of soap before you use it. This allows it to slide into the wood with less friction. It helps somewhat, I suppose, but I rarely find myself doing it anymore.

There are worse case scenarios, but if there is a ray of hope, worse case scenarios are why wood filler was invented! :) Another fix for minor edge splits is to run in some CA glue until you've filled the gap, and then do some cosmetic sanding to eliminate any bulges.
Message: Posted by: AGMagic (Feb 19, 2011 09:48PM)
Pin nailers are great and will do the trick but can be expensive to buy for limited usage. You will also need an air compressor for a pneumatic nailer. If you are hand driving 18Ga nails, you will probably need to pre-drill to avoid splitting the 1/4" plywood.

The majority of the holding power is accomplished by the glue. Make sure you use a good woodworker's glue like Tightbond. If edge gluing end grain, or plywood, put a light coat of glue on the end grain and let it soak in, then apply a second coat and assemble the parts. Clamp securely, or pin nail to hold it all together until dry.

I have made octagonal "catch all" or sewing boxes for years and have never needed anything other than glue to hold the sides together. Just make sure that all of the pieces fit properly before gluing, pre-glue the end grain as described above and clamp until dry.
Message: Posted by: AGMagic (Feb 19, 2011 10:25PM)
Michael got his reply in while I was posting mine...Good advice from a great builder! I had one other thought. It may help to dull the tip of your brad nail a little bit before you drive it into the wood. This will help the brad to punch its way through the wood instead of pushing it aside which is what causes the splitting. I have used this method with great success in larger projects with finishing nails, but have never tried it with brad nails, I went for the pneumatic pin nailer approach.
Message: Posted by: gimpy2 (Feb 20, 2011 10:13AM)
Although I survived without a pin nailer for years it is probably my favorite tool these days. It is always at arms length I even carry it with me between the wood shop and finish shop so I always have it all the time. I want two of them. But Michael is right you don't need one to do boxes and the joints can be made without one. The 23 g. porter cable at $120 has paid for itself many times over in time saved for me. Of course I already had a couple of compressors.
Message: Posted by: Magic Researcher (Feb 20, 2011 11:26AM)
A pin nailer easily allows nailing at an angle to help hold the parts together not just in position.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Feb 20, 2011 01:20PM)
Alright, you guys are twisting my arm. Ha! I may just have to save up for a new toy!
Message: Posted by: AGMagic (Feb 20, 2011 01:41PM)
Michael, spend the money and get a good one (not HF). My forst (cheap) one would work perfectly until the glue was applied to the wood, then it would jam about 1/2 way through the nailing process and the glue would dry before I coul clear the jam. VERY frustrating!
Message: Posted by: jazzy snazzy (Feb 20, 2011 01:48PM)
On 2011-02-20 14:20, Michael Baker wrote:
Alright, you guys are twisting my arm. Ha! I may just have to save up for a new toy!
Michael, it will change your life. Mine is one of those Porter Cable combo air/battery jobs. Love it.
Message: Posted by: The Magic Ref (Feb 20, 2011 03:52PM)
Wow... Thanks guys!!! Michael, were you spying on me... Were you watching me trying to pound these boards together on my floor all wobbly with no clamp, bending brad after brad and cursing as I hit my fingers tring to hold those little things. Then putting the nails all the way at the ends so it would be stronger.. LOL... No pun intended but "You Nailed It"

I'm going to first do this without the nailer so I can learn how to do it, but after that I for sure see a Porter Cable pin nailer in my future.

Thanks again, you have all been very helpful.
Message: Posted by: gimpy2 (Feb 20, 2011 05:14PM)
I have seen some new models of pin nailers that will shoot 3/8" micro pins. Anybody have any experience with these?
Message: Posted by: Father Photius (Feb 20, 2011 09:26PM)
Pneumatic nails are not sharp, they are actually blunted on the end. Sharp points split wood. Simply blunt the end a bit. Turn the brad upside down and give a couple of light taps on the point to dull it. Same goes for working with larger nails in very grainy woods that like to split. Just dull the chisel point on the nail or brad a bit.
Message: Posted by: Craig Dickens (Feb 20, 2011 10:00PM)
Here is what I have used for years--
Yes--Craftsman! And it has held up. No compressor, and brads from 3/8 to 1 1/8 inch. I use it on 1/4 baltic all the time with no splitting.
Message: Posted by: Dr. Solar (Feb 21, 2011 12:00AM)

Thanks for the tip on the electric nailer. Beats dragging out the hose and firing up the compressor for a few nails.

Father Photius, yes, any finish carpenter would tell one to tap the end of the nails with their hammer on the nail supported on a solid surface creating a flat edge. Works every time.

Message: Posted by: The Magic Ref (Feb 21, 2011 02:45PM)
Is this what you guys are talking about?

Message: Posted by: Magic Researcher (Feb 21, 2011 02:53PM)
No, 23ga is quite a bit smaller. Re: a comment made above, the Porter-Cable 23ga pins are not flat on the end. They have a sharp double wedged point.
Message: Posted by: The Magic Ref (Feb 21, 2011 03:24PM)
Ok... Got it now... Thanks..
Message: Posted by: en2oh (Jul 2, 2011 09:16AM)
On 2011-02-21 16:24, The Magic Ref wrote:
Ok... Got it now... Thanks..

Costco has a pretty good (and cheap) brad nailer.
I think it is a must have it you are making anything more than "one off" or if you are making a bunch of "one offs" :)