Toolipedia: Nail Set

Toolipedia: Everything you wanted to know abouta nail set

What isaNail Set?

A nail set, sometimes called a nail punch,is a toolused by trim carpenters,woodworkers and metalworkers.This toolis most often used to drive nails into the wood so that the nailhead is below the surface.When using hand nails, a carpenter will drive the nail within one or two strikes of being set, and thenusethe nail settofinish driving the nail. This prevents the carpenter from possibly leaving a hammer-shaped mark on the trimorwoodworking project.Automatic nail guns can occasionallyleave afastenerproud of the surfacewhich can be pounded in(set)with anail set.Nail sets are also used to create starter holes for screws and drill bitsin wood and metal for

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Here are the basic parts of a nail set:

  1. Head
  2. Grip
  3. Tip

How isanail setused?

Operation basics:

Drive the nail so that it is with in approximately3/16 inchesfrom being flush with thesurface of thewood. Place thetipon the nail head. Gripthe nail set firmly.Finally, tap the nail sets blunt head with the hammer until the nail head is slightly recessed into the wood.Fill the hole with putty.


  • Wear proper eye protection
  • Hammer slowly andin acontrolledmannerto minimize impact to hands

What are the different typesofnail sets?

  • Nail sets come in different sizes primarily based onthesize of thetip
  • Some nail sets have a silicone or rubber grip that may be more ergonomic
  • Some nail sets/punches have a slidethat is used to drive the nail flush the nail sits inside the punch and is often used for siding and fascia
  • The tip on somenail setsareconcave, some areflatand some are convex orend in a sharp point

What makes a goodnail set?

  • Strong
  • Good Grip eitherknurledor silicone
  • Colorhelpsprevent losing them

Stanleymakesahighqualitynail set.

Construction Pro Tips


Setsmall fasteners,like 18-gauge brads,with a nail set that has a concave tip. The set will be less likely to slip off and bend the brad.

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LeRoy Demarest
I have worked for over a decade as an environmental scientist working on an advanced bioremdiation clean up project. For the past six years I have also worked as an adjunct instructor for several colleges, both F2F and online, teaching a number of science courses. Finally, I have been freelance writing for a variety of publications on the topics of: gardening, environment, construction, science, science education, academics and technical work.