Countersinking: Finishing nails

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  • Author Sharon Cacho
  • Published July 1, 2014
  • Word count 465

Anyone that has looked at a "finished" woodworking project, only to see unsightly nails or screws that are still showing should shudder! If you want to know how to "hide" the screws and nails, read on!

Specifically, this article is how to hide nails, otherwise known as "countersinking". It is very easy, does not take more than a few minutes of your time, and in the end you have a fine, professional looking piece of work.

First, I don’t use the nails that have a flat head on them. Instead, I replace them with "brads". They are found at any hardware store. To be sure that they are long enough, measure them against the original nail. Brads have no head. Instead there is a small divot. The divot is the indentation on the top of the nail.

First, drive in your nail until it is level with the wood.

Find the divot. You will place either a counterpunch tool, or an awl on top of it. Counterpunch tools and awls are both sharp, pointed tools used to make holes in leather or wood. Either one will work.

After placing the awl or counterpunch on the divot, use a hammer to drive the brad in deeper into the wood. Either a carpenters hammer claw or a regular hammer will work. You don’t need to drive it too far! A sixteenth to an eighth of an inch will be plenty. You only want to be sure that the brad is deep enough it won’t be seen. This is known as countersinking!

We still have an unsightly brad-and also a small hole! From here, you will need a wood filler- or a nail hole filler. Be sure that it is one that can be painted or stained over. Some fillers do not cover easily and can be seen when stained. Use as instructed.

Just take a scraper, place some filler on it and run it over your countersink (the hole). Scrape off any that is left on the wood itself, making sure that the countersink is nicely covered. Let it dry. It will only take about 15 minutes to dry. Sometimes, you will need a second application. Again, scrape off any excess filler, making your countersink level with the top of the wood.

Once it is dry and level, you will want to take a very fine piece of sandpaper (one that is a grade recommended for "finishing", such as a grade 220) and lightly sand your countersink and the surrounding area until it is smooth.

From here, you may paint or stain! In the end you will have a quality, professionally finished product that you can be proud of!

There are websites that have pictures showing the process if that will be of help to you!

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If you are interested in seeing the blog complete with pictures, please go to

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