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How to prevent brad-nail blowouts

Video courtesy of our friends at

I’m making two full sets of toolboxes right now–each with 15 drawers. Staring down the face of 30 drawers means that these drawers are going to be coarser than most of the work I do–no dovetails, no box joints. In order to get as much depth as possible out of the drawers, my MDF* drawer bottoms are glued and brad-nailed into a rabbet set into the drawer sides. Even though I am not using the finest of Fine Woodworking techniques in my arsenal, I am still aiming for a high level of craftsmanship.

In other words, I couldn’t bear the thought of a brad nail poking out of a drawer side!

In this video, which I shamelessly stole from our sister publication Fine Homebuilding, Chuck Miller demonstrates why brad nails have a tendency to wander, and how to orient the nailer in relation to the workpiece to make sure that it doesn’t wander.

I was nailing into plywood and the likelihood of a brad nail following the “grain” was minimal. Even so, I wanted to do everything I could to stack the odds in my favor. After 15 drawer bottoms, there’s not a errant brad nail in sight. Thanks Chuck!

Cordless brad nail gun driving a nail into the bottom of a drawer
It’s really as simple as orienting your piece perpendicular to the brad nailer.

*at the time, 1/4-in. plywood was $85 a sheet. Even though someone else is paying for it, I couldn’t stomach the thought of paying that much and chose to use MDF even though it’s not ideal.

-Ben Strano

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