Best Nails for Furniture

When constructing furniture, or simply fixing a piece of furniture that has broken off, using nails is often necessary. 

Although glue works in some cases, nails are often better for securely joining two pieces of wood together. 

But with so many types of nails in the hardware store, how do you know which type of nails are best for your project? 

In this post, we’ll talk about using the right nails for furniture, depending on the circumstances. We’ll also discuss when to use nails vs screws for your project.


The best nails for furniture making are:

  • Common nails
  • Box nails
  • Finishing nails
  • Brad nails
  • Spiral shank nails
  • Annular ring nails
  • Upholstery nails

Nails can simply be secured in place with a hammer, although some thin nails like brad nails can more efficiently be secured with a nail gun. 

Common Nails

Common nails are what most people picture when talking about nails. They have a thick shank (the long part of the nail) and a wide head (the top of the nail).

This nail is also known as a general-purpose nail and is commonly used when building frames for cabinets and counters. It is favored for its extra holding power, so it’s also used in various framing houses and creating joists.

Common nails also act as auxiliary fasteners when gluing two pieces of wood together.

Box Nails

Box nails have slender, cylindrical shanks that are thinner than common nails. They also have smaller, slightly rectangular heads designed to sit flush or slightly below the surface.

They are favored for their size as they are easy to conceal. However, they are most suited for light furniture only, like small crates or decorative wood pieces. Also, box nails are commonly used with plywood and MDF (medium-density fiberboard) because they don’t risk splitting the wood.

Box nails are also used to attach trims and moldings.

Finishing Nails

Finishing nails are even smaller than box nails. And they have a flat head that is slightly bigger than its shank. It is commonly used for countersinking (making nails or screws flush against the surface) on trims, moldings, and cabinetwork.

They also work well to attach work veneers and other thin pieces of wood. However, they are only typically used for aesthetic purposes since they’re easy to conceal with wood putty or filler.

Brad nails

Brads are even thinner nails (thinner than finishing nails). The head is only slightly larger than the shank.

These nails don’t offer much strength, but they’re great for securing thin parts of the furniture while waiting for the glue to dry. They are also best for attaching lightweight trims to cabinets.

As they are very thin, and can be hard to hammer. Hence, they are best used with nail guns.

Spiral Shank Nails

Also referred to as screw shank nails, spiral shank nails are so-called as they have a spiral pattern along the shank. They look almost like screws, except you don’t need to pre-drill to use them on furniture. They create their own groove as you hammer them, which helps to secure them into place.

They are best used with hardwoods. And they are often preferred when making pallets and decks. They are also great for outdoor furniture because they adjust well to wood expansion or contraction.

Because of their structure, they are extremely hard to pull from wood. So, we don’t recommend using them on furniture you plan to disassemble or modify.

Annular Ring Nails

Annular ring nails or ring shank nails are popular for woodworking. They have rings around their shank that provide extra grip and strength when making furniture. These rings also prevent the nail from moving over time.

They are best used for heavy furniture like bookshelves and bed frames. They also work well for reinforcing furniture if its connection has already weakened.

Annular ring shank nails are also favored when building outdoor furniture. The rings keep the nail in place even when the wood is shrinking or swelling due to moisture and temperature changes.

Upholstery Nails

For attaching upholstery materials to furniture, you’ll need upholstery nails, also called upholstery tacks. They are small nails with decorative heads purely for design purposes.

They can attach most upholstery materials like vinyl, cloth, and leather to wood. And they work well with different thicknesses, so the fabric is secured well to the furniture. Upholstery nails can be attached with a hammer or tack hammers.

They are not rust-resistant, so we don’t recommend using them for outdoor furniture.

Should I use nails or screws for furniture? 

There are certain types of screws and nails for furniture building. And whether you should use nails or screws depends on what type of furniture you’re working on. Here are some considerations to think about when deciding which tool to use:

Strength of connection: How strong of a connection do you need between two pieces of wood? If you are securing a piece of wood to your furniture that isn’t necessary to uphold the structure of your furniture, nails should work just fine. For instance, if you are simply securing a thin back panel to a dresser, brad nails or finishing nails are fine for this. 

On the other hand, screws tend to be heavier duty and best used as structural joints, like securing the tabletop to its legs. Screws are meant to hold parts of furniture together even if the furniture pieces are on the heavier side. 

Materials used: Nails are more commonly used when joining wood pieces together. In contrast, screws are best used when joining furniture pieces made with different materials. For instance, hardware like drawer pulls are almost always secured in place with screws. 

Installation ease: If you’re only working on lightweight materials, nails are the better option as it is quicker to install. However, with thicker materials, you’ll need to pre-drill and use screws for a better grip.

What screws should I use for furniture?

There are different types of screws with specific uses. It is also important to know which type to use for your furniture project. Some common screws you may use include:

  • Wood screws: Best for general woodworking
  • Cabinet screws: Specifically designed for cabinetry and characterized by washer-like heads
  • Euro screws: Also known as Pozi System Screws and commonly used for drawer slides and hinges; also work well with MDF and hardwood
  • Pocket hole screws: Meant to attach pocket holes (woodworking method for joining wood pieces without glue)
  • Confirmat screws: Commonly used in ready-to-assemble furniture and works well with MDF and other types of particle boards



Leave a Comment