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Box construction with a brad nailer

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  • Box construction with a brad nailer

    I was watching a video of a speaker build and after gluing he used a brad nailer to “clamp” the panels. I have been using clamps but wondered if any of you use a nailer?

  • #2
    I don't but there's no reason not to use it to apply clamping pressure, I've seen it used and am thinking about going that route for future builds, it certainly would be easier on complex shapes than traditional clamps.

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    • #3
      The thing with a brad nailer is the shock of the discharge can knock the parts out of alignment just as the nail enters, leaving you with a misaligned joint. Just holding two pieces of cab together with your hand won't cut it. Try it.

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      • #4
        I would use the brad nail to keep the boards from sliding a little and still clamp. The nail itself isn't really "clamping".

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        • #5
          Brad nailers work great with one major exception, polyurethane glues. They just don't have holding/clamping force to keep the pieces from moving as the glue expands.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by djg View Post
            The thing with a brad nailer is the shock of the discharge can knock the parts out of alignment just as the nail enters, leaving you with a misaligned joint. Just holding two pieces of cab together with your hand won't cut it. Try it.
            The guy in the video didn’t look like he had the problem. I wonder if some have less recoil etc that would make this less of an issue. But for sure it was the first thing I thought about. Maybe building some sort of jig would help.

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            • #7
              I have had brad nails "Split" mdf at times.
              With real wood not an issue, but the brads would split it some where it went into the end "grain" but not when going through the surface

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              • #8
                In the past, I've clamped, then brad nailed, then immediately removed the clamps. No problem with alignment and if the cuts are straight and the joint is not stressed, I've not had any issues with the glue up.

                The issue I have had shows up later in finishing. The brad leaves a tiny mound where it enters MDF. I've sanded and planed these mounds flat but they seem to show up later in painted finishes, like a year later. If you're veneering or using a textured finish like Duraflex, I wouldn't worry about it.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by devnull View Post
                  Brad nailers work great with one major exception, polyurethane glues. They just don't have holding/clamping force to keep the pieces from moving as the glue expands.
                  I've never had that happen, and the only adhesive I use is PL Premium polyurethane. If a joint moves use more brads. I generally go one every inch and a half to two inches, as opposed to every four to six inches with screws.
                  I've clamped, then brad nailed, then immediately removed the clamps.
                  That's what I do. Easy peasy.
                  www.billfitzmaurice.com
                  www.billfitzmaurice.info/forum

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                  • #10
                    My feeling is if I can use clamps, I'd rather do that. I've had brads curl in the wood and exit, making a mess of things that has to be addressed. I've also had what djg described happen to me, but not bad enough to cause a serious issue, knock on MDF.

                    Also, if you plan to router anything like a round-over, you need to be extra careful in those areas.

                    Although the nail itself will 'glue' itself to the inner board due to the melting of the adhesive that binds the nail strip together, the head will still pull out easily from the outer board if things are 'tweaked' a little here or there because it is only slightly larger than the shaft of the nail.

                    If you have enough clamps to hold the piece, I'd go that route.

                    Consider that Gorilla Glue only needs two to three hours to set strong enough to take the clamps off in most cases. You can get a cabinet glued up in a day that way as long as your cuts are square and boards are measured correctly.

                    TomZ
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                    *Part 2 *Gluing multiple curved laminations of HDF *Cello's Speaker Project Page

                    *Building the "Micro-B 2.1 Plate Amplifier -- Part 1 * Part 2 * Part 3 * Part 4 * * Part 5 'Review' * -- Assembly Instructions PDF

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                    • #11
                      Thanks again for the responses. I normally use Baltic Birch so that may be a better substrate for the brads to hold and not mound later. I think the temporary clamps make sense. I was thinking about a simple jig would work too.

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                      • #12
                        I always use a jig, which is usually just a piece of scrap wood, to align the parts. I'll either clamp everything together or screw the jig in place if there's no room for clamps. I used to use only drywall screws for fastening, removing them after the adhesive had set, but brads are much faster. They don't need to be pulled, and their small heads are very easily filled over.
                        www.billfitzmaurice.com
                        www.billfitzmaurice.info/forum

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                        • #13
                          Thanks Bill. I was thinking along the same lines. I may glue a (90 degree) that I have routed out an area along the bottom that I can use the nailer with.

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                          • #14
                            I"m really P!SSED 0FF that I can't seem to align the panels and joints perfectly each time, and it takes a lot of time to sand the joint flat or use a router with a flush trim bit.

                            My newest method is using 90 degree clamps when assembling, and getting the boards lined up really good. I then shoot brads to "lock in" the alignment.
                            Once I've got 4 sides done, I will pull it apart, glue and reassemble (the brads and respective holes ensure alignment) and clamp.
                            Still not perfect, but the best method I've found so far.

                            FWIW, neither biscuits or dowels seem to line up as good as the brad technique.

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                            • #15
                              This is how I align panels. The 'jigs' are the darker colored boards. Clamps not shown.


                              This is a more complicated design. You really can't mess up the process if you use jigs.
                              www.billfitzmaurice.com
                              www.billfitzmaurice.info/forum

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