One has not really experienced life until visiting a pawn shop. It is a cultural experience worth the time. The thing I found most striking on my first visit was the number of wedding rings in the glass case which also served as a counter. I can only imagine the heartaches behind each one of them.
When I was in junior and senior high school, every summer was spent working with my father. He was a licensed general contractor who did smaller jobs in a metropolitan area. Sometime during the 8th grade, he made a ring for me out of a 6d finish nail. I still have it. No pawn shops – no bitter memories. Quite the opposite I might add.
Nails, for some foolish reason, have been considered part of a man's world. At least in the past. Now, things are changing. It's the wife who has the little red tool box out in the garage. The hammers, screw drivers, drills, etc. belong to her.
When we women go to the hardware department of our favorite store, we are victimized by some junior grade male, who worked in the candy department the week before. Now he's an expert on nails, screws, etc. Go figure!
A woman should have a basic idea of what she wants before going into the store. These things, after all, are not categorized as being secrets of the universe. Each nail serves a specific function – we just need to know what it is.
A nail, obviously, has two ends. The business end and the pointy end. What the business end looks like tells what it's used for. Nails come in a wide range of styles and sizes. The 'common' nail, which has the largest head and thickest shaft, is used for house framing and other such heavy projects. The thinner 'box' nail is used for lighter, but still bigger, projects.
The 'casing' nail, whose head is funnel shaped, is used for finish work where a slightly heavier nail is required. An example would be hanging doors. The head of a 'finish' nail is not much larger than the shaft. It is used for more elaborate trim and shop projects.
Each nail is sized according to it's length. The unit of measure is called a 'penny' and is identified by a lower case 'd.' Some examples would be, a 2d (2 penny) nail is 1 inch long. A 6d (6 penny) is 2 inches long. On the longer side would be a 20d, which is 4 inches long. Brads are usually referred to by their actual length.
There are many job specific nails. Examples would be ring shank flooring nails, roofing nails, drywall nails and duplex head nails. Various coatings also determine usage's. Examples of these would be galvanized for exterior and vinyl coated 'sinkers' for easy driving when framing a building.
Be sure to purchase a good hammer. A nice 16 oz. finish hammer will serve well for general usage. The smooth head is made for finish work but still big enough for larger jobs in a pinch.
Pre-drilling the wood will eliminate splitting. At the very least, pre-drill for any nails near the end of the board. The hole should be slightly smaller than the nail. When doing finish work, if a small enough drill bit is not available, use on of the finish nails as a bit. This is pretty much a one shot deal as the pointy end will dull.
When banging a 16d sinker nail into a 2 "x 4 ', for example, and splitting is a concern, (and not within a few inches of the end of the board) tap the pointy end to dullen it before driving it into the wood I do not know why this works, but it helps with splitting. One does not need to know all the answers to make it work.
Building things can be a relaxing way to spend time. The material is purchased and then turned into something useful. There is an end to the project, which is more than many of us see at work.