A Guide To The Most Popular Kinds Of Nail, From Brad To Second Fix

Nails are one of the oldest and most useful fixing types in use today. Workers and craftspeople have been using nails for over 3000 years, and their design has not been tinkered with too much during their long existence. Almost all nails have a head and a point. There is, however, some variety in nail design which makes some nails more suitable for certain tasks. Here is a brief guide to the different kinds of nail.


Common nails are, as the name suggests, the most commonly used kind of nail. They are heavy duty and often have a large round head that is visible after they have been hammered in. This makes them more useful for projects where function is more important than form. Common nails are often made of galvanized steel, which is an extremely tough material. Most carpenters and builders use common nails for any areas of a project that cannot be seen once it has been completed.

Second Fix

Second fix nails are exclusively used as ‘ammunition’ for nail guns. They are perfect for ‘softer’ jobs, where heavy duty nails would risk damaging the materials that are being connected. Nail guns are extremely powerful, so the use of heavy-duty nails can seriously damage thin wood, plastics and metals. Second fix nails are very popular with carpenters and come in many sizes.


Duplex nails are designed for temporary use. They have two heads – one below the other – so that a person can easily use an extraction tool to pull them loose. This kind of nail is often used for temporary frames needed to complete large permanent projects.

Mickey Pin

Mickey pins are small nails with built in washers. They are useful when attaching materials together that are susceptible to warping or cracking as the washer increases the surface area of the nail head. Construction workers connecting steel sheets often use mickey pins in their work.

Dog Spike

Dog Spikes are massive nails with flat heads. They are primarily used in the rail industry, where they are hammered into sections of rail in order to attach them to wooden sleepers. Dog spikes are seeing a decline in use as concrete sleepers become more popular with rail authorities.


Masonry nails are made of extremely tough galvanized steel and are often more tapered and squatter in appearance compared to other nail types. They typically have a square construction in order to stop slippage. This is because they have to be driven into extremely hard material like stone while remaining rigid. If you want to insert masonry nails into stone by hand then you will need to use a heavy framing hammer instead of a one-size-fits-all clawhammer.


Brad nails have more subtle heads than common nails. They are used for finishing jobs where the appearance of a large nail head would be aesthetically detrimental. Most workers use brad nails for areas which will eventually be exposed to scrutiny. They are somewhat difficult to remove without specialist tools.

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