Clipped Head vs. Round Head Nail: Which is Better for You?

Clipped Head vs Round Head-01

Each woodworker or carpenter always seems to have a point of view when it comes to picking everything from power tools to the essential hardware such as nails.

One of the topics that seem to raise an unending debate is whether to use the clipped head or round head nails. And this is still so regardless of the fact that both are quite popular with woodworkers, hobbyists, and DIYers.

While the two nails have a noticeable difference in appearance, both still work perfectly for their intended applications. 

The debate on which is the best between the two is probably not ending anytime soon. But knowing what each is all about should at least make it easier to pick the best nails for your projects.

In this piece, we look at the similarities, difference and also the pros and cons of both nails to help make it easy for DIYers and woodworkers to understand what to use for different projects.

Clipped Head Nail

Clipped Head

No woodworker wants to keep loading more nails to the nailer after every few minutes as this can delay a project significantly. The need to have more nails in the gun is one of the reasons behind the development of the clipped head nails.

The clipped head nails are a relatively a new concept when you compare them with the round nails heads. And they will go by many names depending on your locality but the ‘D head nails’ is one of the most common ones.

As the name suggests, they will have about half of the head clipped to make it possible to pack more nails in a single clip than you would with the ordinary round head nails.

The tighter the nails can fit together the more of them you will have in the magazine, and this means you will have less reloading time and hence also speeding up your projects.

It is also worth noting that the clipped head nails will in most cases be as strong as the round head nails because the only difference (at least most of the times) between them is the clipping on the head.

Pros

  • More nails in the clip. The main advantage of these nails is that clipping half of the head makes it possible to pack more nails in each magazine. And so you get to fire more nails between reloads. Less reloading time makes a significant difference for many woodworkers as it can speed up your projects significantly.
  • Relatively cheaper. Another advantage that the clipped head nails will have over the round head ones is the price as they tend to be relatively cheaper. Cost of making them is lower than the round head ones because the collation process is more straightforward and hence making them more affordable.
  • Smaller magazine. The magazines for the clipped head nails tend to be smaller than the round head ones, and this has the advantage of making your nail gun lighter and more comfortable to wield.

Cons

  • Prone to jamming. The clipped head design makes these nails more prone to jamming than the round head ones. And so if you are not using an appropriate gun you might have to deal with frequent nailer jams which can delay your projects.

Round Head Nail

Round Head

The image of a nail that comes to mind when you think of nailing is the round head nail as it is the most common and probably also the oldest nail type.

Round head nails are the types that have a full head, and most woodworkers will find them more secure than the clipped types. And in some jurisdiction, they are the only type that you can use as they do not allow clipped head nails for certain types of construction.

The nail clips for the round head nails will use plastic strips and sometimes paper to collate the nails. Since they have an entirely rounded head, there is always space between the shanks. And this means that there will be fewer nails in each clip than what you get with the clipped head nails.

But besides from the fact that you will have to reload your gun a lot, the round nail head will have many advantages such as providing more holding power.

Pros

  • More holding power. Any wood that you nail with the round head nails is more likely to stay in place even when there are high winds and high-pressure loads. And this is because the round heads will provide a more extensive bearing surface on the wood than what you get with the clipped types.
  • Prevents overdriving. Overriding is an annoying issue, and it is when the nail sinks into the wood too much. The large head makes overriding hard when using the round head nails and so they are perfect for hurricane prone and seismically active region.
  • Easy to pull out. At some point, you might need to pull out some of the nails, and you will want to do it fast and without damaging the workpiece. When using the round head nails, this should be easier than when using the clipped head ones since they are relatively easy to hold with a nail puller.

Cons       

  • High reload frequency. The fact that the round head nail magazines will accommodate fewer nails than the clipped head ones means that you will have to keep reloading. And this can in turn cause delays in your project.

The Bottom Line

Clipped Head vs Round Head - infographic-01

If you are a seasoned woodworker, carpenter or even a DIYers, the chances are that you already have a particular nail type that you prefer to use. But it is still worth knowing what the two kinds have to offer.

Picking between the two should not be hard with the right information. If you have a project where cost is a factor and also want shorter and fewer reload time the clipped head nails are the best pick.

For most construction projects where safety is always a concern, it is a good idea to go with the round head nails as they provide more holding power.

Also considering the construction regulations in your locality and the gun type that you use should help make it easy to pick the right nails.