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Thread: Pin Nails - Punch in and use filler?

  1. #1
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    Winniepg
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    Pin Nails - Punch in and use filler?

    Good day!
    I was wondering if a more experienced woodworker can give a bit of advice.
    I'm in the finishing stages of an occasional table set. The coffee table itself will have a lift top mechanism.
    I used baltic birch plywood and kiln dried (to 9%) solid birch edging. I had to use a few pin nails in a few spots on the legs near the bottom in order to hold the edging in place. After a bit of sanding, the pin nails are now flush with the surface (see picture).
    Question: Should I drive the pin nails in a bit and then use some filler to cover the hole? Or just leave them as is.
    My concern is that, over time, the wood may shrink a little and the pins may start to protrude and become a "cutting hazard". I'll be finishing the project with wood dye, toner, and then cleat coat.
    Thanks
    Paul
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  2. #2
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    Apr 2019
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    Hi Paul- I would use a nail set and sink them deeper. Then use a filler that matches the color as closely as you can.
    I would test the filler on a scrap of the same wood. Punch a hole with a nail set, fill, sand and stain/ top coat with whatever you are going to use. That way you can see how the filler looks once finished.
    “Pay no attention to what you cannot control..” Epictetus, 100 A.D.
    It costs nothing to be kind to others

  3. #3
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    I'd vote for sinking them to at least allow the finish to fill, but I'll also suggest you need to adjust your gun so they don't stand proud when first shot into the wood.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  4. #4
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    My success trying to set pin nails deeper has not been good; I've found it very hard to get a nail set to engage the tiny head of the pin nail w/o slipping off. I end up making a big hole, or two or three if the nail set slips off, which leaves a real eyesore to deal with. With your proposed finishing schedule I would leave them as they are; the toner will coat the heads and you won't see them afterwards.

    John

  5. #5
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    When I'm going to finish over pins, I make sure the gun is shooting them below the surface, and use only stainless steel pins, so I can put a drop of water over them without leaving a rusty spot. The water swells the wood to cover, and after drying, and a little sanding, it leaves a less visible defect than any type of filler in a hole. Sorry that this is after the fact for this.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Marion View Post
    Good day!
    I was wondering if a more experienced woodworker can give a bit of advice.
    I'm in the finishing stages of an occasional table set. The coffee table itself will have a lift top mechanism.
    I used baltic birch plywood and kiln dried (to 9%) solid birch edging. I had to use a few pin nails in a few spots on the legs near the bottom in order to hold the edging in place. After a bit of sanding, the pin nails are now flush with the surface (see picture).
    Question: Should I drive the pin nails in a bit and then use some filler to cover the hole? Or just leave them as is.
    My concern is that, over time, the wood may shrink a little and the pins may start to protrude and become a "cutting hazard". I'll be finishing the project with wood dye, toner, and then cleat coat.
    Thanks
    Paul
    Yea, use a nail set and sink the nails. Then many places you can get wood putty in different colors so when it's stained or finished the spots pretty much disappear. If you can only get putty in a natural color you could have a paint store add a little colorant to the putty to darken it. Another option would be to take a touch up marker or graining pen and color the spots between the coats of finish.

  7. #7
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    Sep 2006
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    I agree with John TenEyck. If you try to sink them deeper, you are likely to create larger and more conspicuous dents. By the time you finish the piece, the pins will be hard to see anyway.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
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    Cincinnati, OH
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    505
    The 2nd pictures shows nails that appear below the surface and on an inside face. I would not risk making the holes larger. If you do fill, the material you use should be a tad bit darker than the surrounding surface. If the fill is lighter shade, it is more obvious. You may want to wait until your finish is applied to get the best match. Good luck!
    Rustic? Well, no. That was not my intention!

  9. #9
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    A good point was made about damage caused from trying to "set" these small fasteners. So I take back my original ascent to that idea and agree with the "let it be" thing. However, I also will reiterate that if the gun is adjusted correctly, they pins will be below the surface, not proud. Tom's suggestion of using SS pins sunk and then a drop of water to swell-fill is great!
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  10. #10
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    Mar 2017
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    I appreciate the feedback. Initially, the pins were below the surface. But after a bit too much sanding, some of them, not all, ended up becoming flush. In my second picture, as David observed, the pins are ever so slightly below surface. On other legs, they're flush.

    If I let it be, is there a chance that the flush pins might protrude if the wood shrinks? I'm not sure if this will be an issue, but my house does get very dry in winter.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Marion View Post
    I appreciate the feedback. Initially, the pins were below the surface. But after a bit too much sanding, some of them, not all, ended up becoming flush. In my second picture, as David observed, the pins are ever so slightly below surface. On other legs, they're flush.

    If I let it be, is there a chance that the flush pins might protrude if the wood shrinks? I'm not sure if this will be an issue, but my house does get very dry in winter.
    Of course there's a chance, but I've never had it happen yet. Unless the wood is QS the expansion/contractions will be perpendicular to the pin and have no tendency to expose the head of the pin.

    John

  12. #12
    I'd set them using the smallest nail set practical.
    "Anything seems possible when you don't know what you're doing."

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
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    Putney, Vermont
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    I would shoot the same pin into the same type of wood as the table and try sinking it with a pin set.
    What John said is probably true.
    I would use conventional brads on furniture, and save the pin nailer for rougher work.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
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    N.E. Ohio
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    5,617
    Better pin (& brad & nail guns) will sink the fastener deep enough that it won't be a problem & do it at a lower pressure & leave no "dimply" from the hammer.
    "Cheap" guns need more air pressure, won't sink (or counter sink) the fastener properly & the hammer leaves a divot.
    Good 23 ga pin nailers are made to fire slightly above the surface and - if used properly - should never leave a divot in the surface since they don't contact it.

    23 ga pins will usually be nearly invisible when driven in the darker sections of grain. The ones pictured are located in lighter areas - stick them in the dark veins & they are a whole lot harder to detect.
    My granddad always said, :As one door closes, another opens".
    Wonderful man, terrible cabinet maker...

  15. #15
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    Mar 2017
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    Winniepg
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    Thanks again for the feedback. I did end up using the smallest nail set and then filled the holes with a filler that I know takes stain reasonably well.

    One last question... The table tops and skirting are baltic birch plywood. Is it okay to attach the tops using pocket holes and screws? I believe this isn't the correct method for solid wood tops, but for plywood I'm not sure.

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