Nailing solid wood floor boards down can be a time-consuming job if done manually. When nailing tongue and groove floor boards down, one needs to nail the nail through the tongue at 45° and counter sink it slightly so that the next floor board can be slotted in over the nail making it invisible.
If this task is done by hand then one needs to nail it and then use a punch to counter sink it so that you don’t damage the tongue. As the hammer gets used it picks up small traces of oil from the nail and eventually it starts slipping off the head of the nail which will damage the board or the tongue. To avoid this one needs to occasionally sand the head of the hammer to remove that oil and to rough the head up a bit. Just a quick light sand will do the trick.
The nail that would most commonly be used for nailing solid wood tongue and groove floor boards down is a 40mm oval nail. The nail is fairly thick in diameter and if a very hard wood like teak is being used you may need to pilot a hole first so that the oval nail doesn’t split the tongue. With softer woods it is not necessary. You will also need to hammer the board tight up against the preceding board so that there are no gaps and then drive you nail in.
This is all very time-consuming so one would tend to try to use a pneumatic tool to drive these nails in. A normal brad nailer won’t work as you won’t be able to get the head of the nail to be counter sunk so that the next board can be installed without a gap. Also the brad nails are not ribbed so tend to pull out over time. They also have a very small head so can pull through the tongue over time.
There is a specialised tool for this job. It is a dedicated hardwood floor nailer. The video above is pretty self-explanatory in how the tool works. The nail is a hook shaped nail which is driven in at 45° and counter sunk. The nail is also wide but not thick. It is designed to enter the tongue with the width in the direction of the grain and the thickness, which is not very thick at all, against the grain. So splitting of the tongue is reduced to a minimum and the hook prevents the nail from pulling through the board. These nails are also ribbed so they do not pull out over time.
The machine is also designed so that the shaft that pushes the nail in, is used to counter sink the nail. The same applies to a normal brad nailer, but because this tool is designed at 45° it is able to reach all the way into the corner of the tongue.
Because the tool is struck with a hammer, the tool also pushes the board tight up against the preceding board as it nails it down. So any gaps between boards are closed, slightly before the nail is driven through the tongue.
A very useful tool if you are laying many floor boards but cost prohibitive if you are not.
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