What size nails for toe nailing 2×4?

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We answer the question “What size nails for toe nailing 2×4” in this article

When toenailing, you must avoid mistakes like using the wrong nail size because it will mean a weak structure.

This article reveals the right nail size for toe nailing 2x4s in your carpentry projects.

Let’s dive right in:


What size nails for toe nailing 2×4?

It really depends…

To start with, shorter nails such as 8d or 8-penny (2 1/2 inches) should do the job for applications such as securing a butt-connected 2×4.

Likewise, 8d common nails may be required if you’re toenailing typical 2×4 studs to a bottom/top plate.

Still, 10d nails (3-inch) are recommended for toenailing under the building codes in some municipalities.

That is not to say that this is a fast and hard rule: there are projects you may use different-sized nails including 16d (3 1/2 inches) though we feel that they might be a bit oversized for toenailing 2x4s and you risk splitting the lumber.

In short, this is not a case of one-size-fits-all and you need to see what will be most practical for your project among the three common options: 8d, 10d, and 16d.

Something else: vinyl-coated nails are ideal for most 2×4 situations -Vinyl coating makes them easier to drive than galvanized the latter is recommended for outdoor because of their improved resistance to weather and elements.

Bear in mind that some nail guns shoots just about anything including 16s in case you want to use a nail gun for toenailing 2x4s instead of a simple hammer.

But to be sure, it’s important to check the actual specifications printed on the gun once you’ve settled on the best nail length to avoid last minute disappointment.

What size nails for toe nailing 2×4 – things to keep in mind

Using properly-sized nails for toenailing is not the only thing that will make your structures strong..

You have to answer other important questions including the number and placement of nails when toenailing.

How Many Nails should you Use When Toe-Nailing 2x4s?

It will be difficult to achieve good quality toenailing if you drive an incorrect number of nails.

Too many nails are likely to crack the lumber while too few nails will certainly result in a shaky connection.

Please check the building code for guidelines on the number of nails to use for these kinds of construction projects and use enough nails to meet the code (refer to the nail schedules).

Nevertheless, the rule of the thumb is to drive use 4 nails down on either side of the 2×4 (with 8ds) and 2 nails (with 16ds) at opposite angles.

What is the correct angle to toenail 2x4s?

In general, you should start the nails in the right spots and proceed to angle them a little more than 45 degrees.

To get the perfect starting spot, visualize the path the nail will follow by holding it right against the wood you’re joining.

That way, you’ll create the strongest possible wood-to-wood connection.


Toe nailing 2×4 with screws (toe-screwing)

Toe-screwing is an alternative to toenailing – you use screws instead of nails – and some carpenters prefer it.

If you’re planning to take this route, the most commonly used screw for joining 2x4s is hardened steel No. 9, 2-1/2 inches long (structural), Phillips head.

Other screws that can function well for studs are quite pricey and not very common in hardware stores so this is usually what most professionals use.



One common mistake people make in carpentry projects is using improperly-sized nails to toenail 2x4s.

But you won’t be committing this error again now that you have learned that the best nail size for toenailing 2x4s is 16d (3.5 inches long) nails.

Above all, always make sure you are code compliant, whatever size of nails you choose.


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