Finish Carpentry Fixings

The nails and screws I use for trim carpentry jobs

This is my finish carpentry fixings tray. It contains everything I need for fixing skirting, architraves, stair spindles, hanging doors and all the other trim carpentry jobs I do.

Apart from screws, plugs and nails there is an assortment of hinges, magnetic catches, spare handle spindles and I also keep spare longer bolts for small cupboard door knobs because often the ones supplied are too short.

Using the right nails or screws and plenty of wood glue is essential in order to get the best finish.

As a general rule, screws and nails should be at least three times as long as the material being fixed is thick. So, for 20mm thick timber use 60-70mm screws or nails, unless they would go through and come out the other side of what you are fixing the material to!

Wherever possible I use secret fixings or at least give thought not just to how best to get a fixing but to disguise it or place it in the least noticeable position.

I also have in the kit a tin of wood stopping for whichever timber i'm using, like pine, oak or mahogany for example. To go with that I've got 2 different grades of sandpaper in my kit, grade 80 and 120 grit.

Finish carpentry fixings - nails

Finish carpentry nails have small heads that can be punched under the surface with little risk of splitting the workpiece so filler can be applied afterwards. If nailing close to the end of the timber, put the head of the nail to the floor and hit the sharp end with a hammer to blunt it a bit. This makes the nail punch a hole through instead of seperating the wood fibres and reduces the chance of splitting. If in doubt, drill a pilot hole slightly smaller than the nail instead.

  • 75mm losthead nails
  • These are the best nails for fixing skirting board to stud work interior walls. Sometimes you can get away with fixing into masonry with them but generally, when fixing to brick or block-work skirting boards need to be screwed (click here for more tips on fixing skirting boards)

  • 40mm oval nails
  • Ovals are the best nails for architraves if you don't have a finish nail-gun. Sometimes I only want to pin the architrave on temporarily and they are perfect for that too. They can also be used for pinning mitres together on large mouldings.

  • 20 and 40mm panel pins
  • The best nails for pinning skirting mitres together are 20 or 40mm panel pins, depending on the size of the skirting board. These pins are also great for small beads and mouldings like quadrant or Scotia for example.

  • 20mm Veneer pins
  • Whenever a panel pin could risk splitting a small moulding, like when fixing a mitre for example - veneer pins are usually thin enough to do the job without splitting the work-piece.

  • Nail-gun brads, 38 and 50mm
  • My nail-gun is pretty much indispensable for finish carpentry as it saves time not only nailing but punching them in too. The 38 and 50mm brads are the best size nails for architraves, spindles/spacers, holding things in place till the glue goes off like small bits of skirting that a nail/screw could split.

    Finish Carpentry fixings - Screws

    When a nail won't hold you've got to screw it. Just like with nails I try to hide screws and use pellets to fill over them wherever possible. It's almost always necessary to pilot drill and countersink before winding any screws into trim carpentry mouldings. All the screws I use are Pozi-drive.

  • 100, 70, 60, 50mm TurboGold Screws
  • This is the range of larger screws I use for fixing things like battens to walls, skirting boards to masonry and stud-work, Newel posts or half newels to walls, door linings etc.

  • 45, 35, 25mm TurboGold screws
  • These shorter screws are good for most 75mm hinges. Whilst fire rated hinges tend to be supplied with matching screws in chrome or brass, as well as latches and other types of ironmongery these screws work fine in rare cases that they don't. They are also fine when re-using old furniture on new doors for example, I generally tend to replace old screws with new because they'll last longer and are less likely to snap causing big problems!

  • 15mm screws
  • These screws are used for small ironmongery, such as door bolts and hanging rail brackets

    Finish carpentry fixings - Rawl Plugs and Cavity fixings

    For fixing to masonry I carry red and brown plugs. The best way of fixing to plasterboard I've found is to use 50mm Redi Drivers (for heavy/secure loads) or Fischer plasterboard plugs.

    Click here to find out how to get a really strong fixing in plasterboard

    Screwdiggers, Wooden pellets, Plug cutters and Wood Filler

    When finishing things like staircases and other large joinery I often drill pilot holes and use a plug cutter to cut a wooden pellet instead of filling the hole with wood filler.

    Disguising Finish carpentry fixings is essential. Although smaller pin holes can be unnoticeable when filled with wood filler larger screws when filled stand out and completely ruin the look of the work-piece.

    Wooden pellets however when placed with a bit of thought look like they are supposed to be there and can even become a decorative feature of the piece. For the best job, again use a on an off-cut of the material you are filling, lining up and matching the grain as closely as possible.

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    Have a comment or question about the best types of finish carpentry fixings you use