Nail Set

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A nail set (or nail punch) is a woodworking and carpentry hand tool used to drive nails below the surface of a material, without damaging the surrounding area. Basically, it consists of a hardened steel rod with a pointed tip and a flat, wider end that users can strike with a hammer (woodworkers typically use a ball-peen hammer).

How to Use a Nail Set

Nail sets are useful for creating a clean and professional appearance in woodworking projects. Here is how they are used:

  • Preparation: Start by properly positioning the nail on the desired spot on the material’s surface.
  • Nail Placement: Use a hammer to initially drive the nail into the material. Leave a small portion of the nail exposed above the surface.
  • Usage: Place the pointed tip of the tool on top of the exposed nail. Gently tap with a hammer to drive the nail slightly below the material’s surface
  • Countersinking: Depending on the project, you may also drive the nail slightly below the surface or countersink it deeper. Control the applied force to achieve the desired depth.
  • Finishing: After setting the nail to a desired depth, fill the small hole left by the nail wood filler or putty. This will make the surface smooth and even.

Different Types of Nail Sets

Nail sets come in various shapes and sizes to suit different nail sizes and tasks. Here are common types of nail sets: 

  • Standard: This is the most common nail set type. It features a cylindrical body with a pointed tip and a concave end to fit over the nail head.
  • Bullet: Similar to a standard variant, but with a more tapered, bullet-shaped tip. This design provides control so the tool won’t slip off the nail head.
  • Square: This type has a square-shaped concave end instead of the typical cylindrical design. It is useful for setting nails in tight corners and edges.
  • Magnetic: These nail sets have a built-in magnet on the concave end. The magnet holds the nail in place, allowing the user to position and drive the nail accurately.
  • Automatic: Also known as an automatic center punch, this tool automatically releases a spring-loaded punch when pressed against a nail head. It is a perfect solution for repetitive tasks that require taxing manual work.
  • Combination: This type can accommodate different sizes of nails without having to switch tools.
  • Micro: A miniature version of a standard nail set, perfect for delicate and intricate woodworking tasks.
  • Cabinet: This one is essential in cabinetry and furniture making. Cabinet nail sets usually have a longer body and narrower concave end that can reach tight spaces.
  • Soft Face: Instead of a steel tip, this type has a softer, non-marring material on the striking end. This is useful for setting nails without leaving marks on the surface.
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John Friedenbach

My initial goal, to provide a selection of tools, education and plans to the Beginning to Advance Woodworker has not changed. I continue to search the web to find new products and services. To bring those products and services to your attention.

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