Why I Can’t Have Anything Nice

I’m pondering a new feature on http://www.theapartmentwoodworker.com. A weekly “Things I Learned This Week” segment. Cautionary tales for the small space woodworker.

This week’s entry: when driving nails into unsupported face grain, pre-drill as deep as you can.

For the new travel tool chest, I nailed on the rot strips (instead of screwing them on like I would normally). The nails (Tremont fine finish) are about 1/4″ shorter than the combined thickness of the rot strips and the floorboards, prior to setting. Wanting the nails to bite hard, I only pre-drilled the rot strips themselves and not the floorboards. Fine finish nails taper dramatically, so it should have worked.

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And it looks fantastic from this angle.

What actually happened was each nail pushed fibers up and through the floorboards, splintering the face grain. Not a structural issue, but an annoying cosmetic blemish.

As a result, the tool chest floor is getting an adhesive-backed cork lining.  They say the sign of a good woodworker is not the absence of mistakes, but the ability to hide the mistakes made.

As an alternative to further pre-drilling, I may next time drive the rot strips first, before attaching the floorboards to the carcase. That should eliminate any unsupported fibers and give me the fastening power I’m after.

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