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Thread: screws or nails

  1. #1
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    screws or nails

    I'm finally able to start the building of my freeride trail and want to know if I should use nails or screws. I already tried using screws with a cordless 18 volt dualt drill and only experienced failure. The screws would only go in half way then stop. how long should the nails or screws be.

  2. #2
    featherweight clydesdale
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    Use screws and pre-drill. The longer the screw the better, as long as it isn't coming out the other side.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtnbiker7
    I'm finally able to start the building of my freeride trail and want to know if I should use nails or screws. I already tried using screws with a cordless 18 volt dualt drill and only experienced failure. The screws would only go in half way then stop. how long should the nails or screws be.
    Screws work the best in most of those applications, but need to be pre-drilled for the best fit which will eliminate the issue you are experiencing with the half-protruding screws.

    A little extra work with the pre-drilling, but a much longer lasting structure in the long run.

  4. #4
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    Square drive screws and a stout enough drill and you don't have to predrill your holes.I love my Makita 18V lithium ion impact driver.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Blurred_Vision
    Square drive screws and a stout enough drill and you don't have to predrill your holes.I love my Makita 18V lithium ion impact driver.
    what do u mean by stout enough.

  6. #6
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    Nails are cheaper,but screws are stronger and removable. We always pre-drill. On some very long screws ( over 6 inch ) we have used perifin wax on the screw to act as a lube,works great. Don't use dry wall screws,they are easy to break.
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  7. #7
    FM
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    Galvanized roofing nails work good for rungs- look for the nails that have a spiral twist to them. This keeps them from backing out. Length depends on how thick your rungs are. Tip: leave your rungs a bit long, nail them in, then trim off the excess. If you cut to fit and then nail close to the ends, your rungs will split.

    For connecting stringers, pre-drill and use galvanized lag bolts. 6" or 8" work well, again depends on how thing your materials are.

    Lots of great info here

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtnbiker7
    what do u mean by stout enough.
    Some battery drills are not strong enough to drive screws unless you do predrill.They need to be heavy duty with a good reserve in the battery.We rarely have to predrill for 3" screws in treated pine. The square drive helps eliminate slippage and stripping screws.

  9. #9
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    Screws are always better. As wood ages, it loosens up around nails and the vibration and load cycles from bikes will cause the nail to back out and/or the wood will lose its grip on the nail causing your structure to become loose. Screws maintain their clamping strength much longer. You shouldn't have to pre-drill 3" or shorter screws with an 18v cordless drill. If so, the battery isn't taking a full charge and needs to be replaced. Longer screws will probably need to be predrilled. If you use nails, use galvanized ring shank as they hold in better. With screws, use deck screws as they are designed for outside applications in treated lumber. Screw length should be just shorter than the stock you are fastening - i.e., 2.5" - 3" screw for dimensional lumber (2X4, 2X6, 2X8, etc.)

  10. #10
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    It depends on the application and it depends on what kind of screws you are using.

    Expensive "Timberlock" screws are bombproof, super heavy duty.

    But they are spendy.

    Make sure screws you use are for outdoor use. As well as getting galvanized nails. You would like the wood to deteriorate before the fasteners.

    Don't use screws that are all ring and no shank. The shank is what holds strength.

    Nails do have more sheer strength and are less apt to fail by snapping versus screws, so bear this in mind when choosing which to use for each application. As others have stated nails do tend to slip with time, so it would make sense for nails to be applied to the base of structure, and the slats to screwed down.

    So do what makes sense for you and your project, don't exclude using one or the other, use em both if that's what makes sense.
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  11. #11
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    Lately for us the answer is "none". We've been trying hard to use large, heavy sections of tree and notching them so that they interlock with the other pieces. No screw or nails needed in the end. Pretty hard to make a ladder bridge that way, but we've been making some fun log skinnies with varying elevation changes that way. I'll snap some pictures this weekend to show you some examples.
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  12. #12
    zrm
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    I haven't built FR stunts but I've built lots of bridges and boardwalks through wetlands. I've used Gold Deck screws for 2X decking with good results. I've never bothered with pre-drilling for 2X decking and haven't had problems due to lack of pre-driling, but it certainly won't hurt either.

    For bigger timbers and posts, I've used either 20p nails for smaller stuff or log spikes for 4X4, 6X6, or 8X8 (landscape ties) posts. Pre-drilling for spikes will make them a lot easier to drive and make it less likely you'll have splitting issues. If you want it to be really bomber, another option is to drill and through bolt or drill and lag for high stress spots on big stuff, like supporting timbers .

    Like I said, I've only built bridges so I don't know how applicable this might be to FR structures, but I will say (patting my own back) that the bridges I've built have stood up to many years of heavy use.

    Oh Yeah, use pressure treated lumber if you can. Peel bark off logs if that is what you are using.

  13. #13
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    Normally find some large burly screws and use those. Not sure the brand. Have always had to pre-drill for the one we get and recently just killed the drill after trying to drive it to hard. Then again it is a 10 year old cordless.

    One thing that I'm not sure is helpful or not is to use gorilla glue where the two pieces meet and then squirt a bit into the drill hole acting as a lube initially. Once setup I think that we get stronger structure.

  14. #14
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    Three features that the trail gnomes have built this winter. Used a total of 4 large spikes to secure everything. Everything is cut and interlocked.
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtnbiker7
    what do u mean by stout enough.
    Blurred should have typed a stout battery. Spend the money on Lithium Ions.

    Its not the drill itself that sucks...it is always the battery.

  16. #16
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    Man, that's cool! If we built stuff like that down here (New Orleans), the termites and fungi would have it converted to sawdust in 8-12 months!!

  17. #17
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    After buying the Makita Lithium Ion set of tools I am a big fan of those batteries. However,I think the tool also makes a difference as I would always choose the tiny impact driver over the 1/2" hammer drill to drive screws without having to predrill. I think back 20 years and it strikes me that we are lucky to be discussing which tools we can pick from to do all the jobs out in the back country with no outlets to stick a cord into!

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trigger
    Three features that the trail gnomes have built this winter. Used a total of 4 large spikes to secure everything. Everything is cut and interlocked.

    Trigger, can you provide more detail on how you did this? I am looking to do something similar but have very little experience. Also any links or good resources on interlocking would be appreciated.

    Thanks!

  19. #19
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    Disclaimer - I'm by no means an expert at this.

    Some of our local land managers request only "natural" features to be used on their land, and this is our best attempt at this (no 2x4s, etc). We don't have a lot of rock, and we don't have rot resistant trees. So we try to use large log sections - their weight alone helps keep them in place, and you can notch them fairly deeply to help them interlock with other pieces. Experienced chainsaw user and a hatchet or two. Think of notching like someone would do building a log home...



    Not many examples here, but I like this site for inspiration...
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  20. #20
    jalepenio jimenez
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    Considering that you are building trail at a remote location, why go to the hassle of using screws and predrilling when you can use nails and get just as good of a result? "Ring shank" nails won't back out easily, if at all, and any nail, driven at an angle to another nail in the same proximity, will hold the board they are nailed through just as tight as two screws will hold it, and they won't break over time. It's best to drive the nails toward one another so that they may even cross in an "X" pattern under the board.
    I realize that predrilling may prevent splitting, so if you absolutely need to predrill and are short on battery power, why not try a hand brace and bit and dispense with the power tool altogether?
    One last consideration. If you are into power tools, a nail gun that operates on fuel cells (Paslode) is a fast and easy way to drive lots of nails real fast. No smashed thumbs and you have the "power" of high impact right there in your hands.
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  21. #21
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    i would say good ol fashoned galvy 16s and a framing hammer gets the job done just fine, no batterys to die, if possible cordless drills work great but battery life is an issue if used for a prelonged building day

  22. #22
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    use screws+an impact driver. the impact driver being the key to success, drills suck.
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  23. #23
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    theres always that hurricane-proof nail that will do the job
    i suppose if it can take on a hurricane it can take a rider or two safely across

    the team that manages our trails had a bolt put in their 15ft bridge..no idea how...but they did
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    I have spent a lot of time on nsmb.com and have looked at several trail logs. From what I have seen, none of the trail builders up there used screws and their stuff is more bombproof than any I have seen. They deal with tons of traffic, snow, and rain yet still hold up better than any other stunts. For whatever reason they use nails, cost or effectiveness, or a combination of the two, I would emulate them as much as possible.

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