Ask WWGOA: Fixing Nail Blowouts

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Fixing Nail BlowoutsQuestion:
I’m sure that this never happened to you, but… I was nailing on a face frame (I know, I didn’t want to use nails but the angles of this cabinet made it nearly impossible to get good gluing pressure) and a few of the brads blew out the side of the cabinet (see photo).

What is the best way to deal with this? Should I try to pull the brad out from the front/back, snip of off and file it or some other method?

Maybe this would be a good chapter in a future video – brad nailers or something.”

Submitted by anonymous


This has only happened to me about 8 million times.

The brads are so small they won’t tolerate being driven backwards. Your best bet is to cut them off. Here are a couple approaches. Use a pair of side cutters and nip the brad as close as possible to the surface of the wood. The problem is that most side cutters only let you get so close. A handy tool to have for occasions like this is the FastCap End Nip Trimmers They’re ground so that the cutter is right at the face of the nippers, allowing you to cut flush to a surface. In any case, after the brad is clipped off, use a nail set to tap the remainder below the surface of the wood.

An alternative is to use a rotary tool with a very thin cut off wheel. Orient the cut off wheel in the same direction as the grain and plunge it into the case side above the point where the nail protrudes. This allows you to cut the brad off below the surface. This is my preferred method.

Follow up either operation with a little wood putty, and no one will know you had an “blow out.”


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2 Responses to “Ask WWGOA: Fixing Nail Blowouts”

  1. GeorgeVondriska

    FYI I've heard from FastCap that the End Nippers are not recommended for cutting nails, as nails can nick the cutter. They do recommend their Heavy Duty Flush Trim Cutters for cutting nails. That being said, I have used the End Nippers on brads with no damage to hte nippers. Guess I've dodged the bullet on this. Cool to hear FastCap has the right tool for the right job. G

  2. Paul Mayer

    Also, when nailing, be sure to keep in mind that pneumatically driven nails will generally blow out in only two out of four directions. The longer and thinner the nail, the more variation to this, however, as the nails are able to twist more. But if you look closely at the structure and orientation of the nail, this will become apparent. The nail shank is not round, it is wide and flat. It will generally bend along the flat orientation, and is not nearly as likely to along the wide orientation. If you expanded the size of the nail by 100x, you would have something that resembled a sheet of plywood (proportions are way off, but the concept still applies), and it would be obvious which way the sheet of plywood would flex and which way it wouldn't. In looking at your picture, I am guessing this is an 18 gauge nail, which are oriented in their strips in such a way that they will generally blow out to either the left or the right, and not forward or backward. I am further guessing that you held the nail gun parallel with the face frame, allowing the nail to follow the path of least resistance and shoot out the side. By turning the nail gun 90 degrees, or perpendicular to the face frame orientation, you would significantly reduce the chances of a blowout. Having said all that, it can certainly still happen, particularly with thinner nails, and when it does, the approaches that George explained will make quick work of the repair.