Clipped Head VS Round Head

Clipped Head vs Round HeadDifferent people always have different points of view and nail guns are another item in which there is a disagreement. Many may find themselves on different sides of this debate. I have been a carpenter, running my own small business for 5 years now and I truly can’t see what all the fuss is about. While there are differences in these nails, the differences are too miniscule too have an impact on real world building. Never the less, it seems that the fight is on and there are already governments getting involved.

Clipped Head

Clipped head nails have many names depending on where you live. They can be called D head nails also as the nail head is in the shape of a D. Half of the nail head has been ”clipped off” to allow the nails to pack together much tighter. This means you get more nails placed together in one clip. A clip of nails refers to a row of nails tied together by a paper, plastic, or wire strip. The tighter the nails fit together the more you can fit in the magazine leading to less reloading time.

The novice carpenter will also try to state that the clipped head nail will perform better when toe nailing. However this is not exactly true. If you can line your gun up where the clipped part of the nail strikes against the side of the lumber then this works. Very seldom will you be able to choose this perfect position as you must fit the gun into the space in order to achieve the best nailing angle.

Round Head

The folks who wish to hammer home the argument for the full head or round head nail often talk about more holding power. Many building codes have changed in order to remove the clipped head nail from construction in their area. This is more evidence of how building departments are getting farther and farther from reality. The truth is that, a properly built home is not relying on the nails pulling through the lumber to stay standing.

Let’s explain it another way, if something puts enough stress on your home that you have to worry about rows of clipped head nails pulling through then you are in great danger anyway. Full head nails do not stop tornadoes. Many times these same folks will talk about a better looking exposed finished when needed. Again when you have exposed framing you use hand driven nails and don’t leave hammer marks. For my rookies, I would drill a hole through a cedar shim so they could place it over the nail while driving.


Simply put, the most important thing to consider is the building code for the area that you live in. Many guns that accepted the clipped head nail will shoot the new round heads, however it is best to check this with your tool shop. Paslode solved this nail conundrum by simply sliding the full head towards the front of the clip allowing the nail head to clear the following nail shank. Enjoy your gun and always think safety first.

Comments (2)

  1. John Luther
    • Melvin Fletcher

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