What Size Nails For Toenailing A 2×4?

Most nailing types involve driving a nail through two boards to fasten them together, as with roofing planks and wooden siding. However, when the two wood sections are at right angles to each other, toenailing becomes essential. Toenails are nails that are driven at an angle, usually forty-five degrees, to join such boards together.

To ensure you get a strong, durable joint, it is important to use the right nail size when toenailing. When toenailing 2x4, many contractors prefer the 16d or 16-penny nails. However, the right nail size will depend on several factors, such as your kind of job.

For tasks like securing a butt-connected 2x4, 2.5-inch (8d or 8-penny) nails should do. For attaching typical 2x4 studs to a top or bottom plate, 8d nails should also suffice. On the other hand, you might find the building code in some municipalities insisting that you use 3-inch (10d) nails for toenailing. Therefore, this recommendation is not the main rule to use.

For projects using heavier forms of timber, you might use different nail sizes like the 16d (3.5-inch) nails. However, these are quite large, and you might split the wood. You need to determine the most reasonable size for your project between the 2.5, 3, or 3.5-inch nail sizes.

Hammer and nails with a wooden plank on the side at a construction site, What Size Nails For Toenailing A 2x4?

What Are The Most Suitable Dimensions Of A 2x4?

A 2x4 plank is just below 2 inches thick and about 4 inches wide in rough condition. When it is milled into its smooth or sanded state, it will lose about ¼ of an inch from all its sides and will therefore measure 1.5 inches thick and 3.5 inches wide.

Carpenter hammering a nail to the wooden 2x4

What Type Of Nails Is Best For Toenailing A 2x4?

Again, this depends on your priority. When toenailing outdoors, use galvanized nails as they will withstand the multiple weather conditions. However, when toenailing indoors, use vinyl-coated ones. These will be way easier to drive in than galvanized ones.

A stockpile of 2x4 wood at a construction site

If you have opted for the 16d nail size, these come in two types: common nails and sinker nails. The common nails have a smoother head and a diameter of 0.162 inches, while the sinker heads have a rougher head and a narrower diameter of 0.148 inches.

For toenailing with a hammer, use sinker nails. They have a vinyl coating, and the texture's head should offer more friction as you drive the nail in and prevent the hammer from slipping.

How Many Nails Should Be Used In Toenailing A 2x4?

A few nails will lead to an unstable connection, while too many will split your wood. The number of nails to use depends on the nail size you chose for your 2x4. The common rule when using 8d nails is to drive 4 nails on either side of your 2x4 at opposite angles.

Worker nailing the wooden plank

When using 16d's, you should drive 2 nails on either side. However, the building code in your area should be the first place to seek guidance. To reduce the chances of splitting the wood, consider dulling the sharp end of the nail by striking it with a hammer while its head rests on a hard surface.

While a sharp nail would spread the wood's fibers and split it, a duller one will quickly puncture the wood without causing any cracking. When using larger nails like the 16d, you can use a drill to puncture the angle. Pre-drilling should make driving the nail easier while reducing the risk of wood splitting.

What Angle Should Be Used In Toenailing 2x4?

If you are using a hammer, start by positioning your nail in the right position, then tap it straight through about ¼ an inch without bending it. Next, position your plate about ¼-inch from the mark where the nail should pin it to the right spot. From there, bend the nail till it is at 45 degrees relative to the plate, then set it with a few taps before letting go and driving it in.

The right starting position is the one that offers you the best wood-to-wood connection as the nail passes through the stud and the plate.

A 2x4 wooden plank with hammers and nails on the side

Compared to face-nailing, toenailing is better for creating solid joints and keeping boards in the position where they meet at right angles. Since the toenails are driven opposite each other on either side of your plate, the joint will hold steady regardless of the direction of shear forces.

If you get the angle and nail path right, then you are assured of a durable connection. This will prove true, especially if you make a mistake with your joint and have to dismantle it.

Is There A Specific Nail Gun For Toenailing?

Carpenter marking spots on the 2x4 for cutting

For toenailing, you are better off with a framing gun. Most nail guns will work with any nail size, but get a framing gun to avoid last-minute runs back to the store. This type of gun will effectively drive a 16d nail through a 2x4.

Can Screws Be Used In The Place Of Nails?

Hammer and nails with a wooden plank on the side at a construction site

Yes; many carpenters prefer screws to nails when it comes to toenailing 2x4. As mentioned earlier, toenailed joints are difficult to dismantle, so screws are because you can easily remove them.

For this kind of carpentry, your best screw type is the No.9 2.5-inch long hardened steel Phillips head. This type of screw will be easier to find at your local hardware store compared to others that might also be costlier.

When toe-screwing, pre-drill a pilot hole, then install the screws using the power drill rather than a screwdriver. You can also consider using Robertson screws. These have a square in their head rather than a slot and will work better with a solid and sharp drilling bit.

With this information, you should be able to make the best decisions when toenailing, especially with the right nail size. It is imperative that whatever size you choose is compliant with your municipality's building code. This code should guide you on the nail size, type, and best approach to driving in the nails.

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