Using a hammer and nail might seem like a simple task. However, using the wrong nail can cause wood to split or corrode. There are many types of specialised nails designed for specific jobs, including upholstery nails, hardboard pins and roofing nails. However, you'll need to choose a nail suitable for connecting oak wood. The size, shape and purpose will determine the choice of nail for your project.
Bullet Head Nail
The bullet head nail, also called the oval head nail, is a common nail used for connecting timber, including hardwoods such as oak. Its main purpose is for making frames, cabinets and affixing planks. It has a rounded head and straight steel body, with a sharp tip for hammering into wood. It's possible to nail the bullet head into the wood and cover it's head so it can't be seen, yet remains strong. If you don't want to see your nails in your finished piece of oak joinery this is an important consideration.
Deck Spike Nail
The deck spike nail is a often used for larger pieces of wood such as railway sleepers. If you're thinking about building an oak shed, tree house or bench then it is best to use a deck spike nail. The nail is galvanised to prevent corrosion (from rain for example) so it's possible to leave it outside. Instead of a round head, the nail has a flat head and long thin body and is also called the round wire head. However be aware that this nail has been known to split wood, according to DIY Data and Technology Student.
The shank is another word for the body of a nail and its design will affect the nail you use with oak wood. A shank may be smooth or have a pattern on it, usually a spiral like a screw. A nail with a spiralled shank is stronger because it holds securely in place by resisting any force. Oak objects such as a bookcase, bench or piece of furniture would benefit from a spiralled shank. Whereas a smooth nail is used for resisting shock loads, such as oak flooring. The smooth shank can move with the timber to absorb the movements yet remain secure.
As the Canadian Wood Council outlines, the point of a nail affects whether the oak wood is likely to split or not. The sharper the point of the nail, the more likely it is that the wood will split. This is because it is acting like a wedge to pry the grain apart. Oak has a heavy grain so choose a nail that is not too sharp to avoid splitting the wood. The nail needs to have a smaller, less sharpened point. This means that it is still easy to insert the nail and the join still holds tightly in place without risking damage to the wood.