|Here is what I want.|
The first time I heard of clinched nails was during the episode of the Woodwright's Shop when guest Christopher Schwarz was discussing his book, "The Joiner and Cabinet Maker." During this episode, Chris made a shipping crate with clinched nails for joinery.
Clinched nails are great because they are quick to do, require no glue (so no drying time), and are amazingly strong. Also, they make a great joint for a cross-grain batten as while the wood contracts and expands, the nails can give just enough to keep everything nicely together and flat.
There are a couple things that are not shown in this photo essay. My cabinet door is soft spruce, which is less than ideal. I figure if clinching nails works with spruce it will work anywhere.
The ship lapped panels I am using are 18mm, the crossbraces are 28mm (3/4" and 1 1/8" or so). I wanted nails that were at least 2cm longer than the thickness of all the wood. I bought some regular unplated brad nails at the home center that were 80mm long for this. Brad nails in order that they could be countersunk. This panel will be painted, so a little putty and the nail hole on the face of the cabinet should disappear. I think practically any wire nail should work.
The first thing I did, which is optional depending on how the piece needs to look, is I drilled pilot holes for everything. As this is a piece of furniture, I wanted to minimize blowout and cracking. If you are making something like a shipping crate, going straight to nails should work just fine. If it matters, spend a little time laying out where the nails will go for strength and beauty. I drilled holes that were significantly smaller in diameter than the nails, so there would be a tight fit. I don't want them too loose, as brads could be pulled all the way through.
|While I used a bradawl on the crossbraces, I used my hand drill for the panels.|
|Notice I already painted the rabbets for the ship lap. I won't get a chance to paint that later.|
|This lets me line up the cross brace into the pilot holes I already drilled.|
|Here are all the nail tips just poking through.|
|I found it easier to line up the holes for the battens on one board at a time.|
|Now it is time to flip the piece over. I have the batten resting on the edge of the bench, but the nails are hanging over so I don't put nail holes in my bench.|
|Pound the nail down about half way, so there is still plenty sticking out. I used this woodblock as a rough guide, so I could drive all of the nails about the same distance in.|
|With the nail sticking half way out the back, bend all the nails over.|
|Now I am bending them over as far as they will go.|
|Flip over again, and drive the nails as flush as you can get with the hammer only. No need to set these yet. Once again, this step and the previous ones are done with the piece halfway on the bench.|
|It's OK to twist these straight again.|
|Now I use the hammer again to bend the nails a bit more, so they are pointing down.|
|Now you can set the nails. The previous step might have pushed them out a bit, so make sure they are all the way in as far as you want now.|
|Here is what my panel looks like at this point.|
|Using an angled blow with the hammer, try to bend the nail over where the tip will re-enter the wood.|
|Take your time and pound it in just where you want it.|
|Even more. Is this level of detail perhaps a bit unnecessary?|
|The last blow. Notice that in soft wood like this the nail is now set below the level of the wood. I like this, but this doesn't happen with some of the harder woods.|
|The completed door. I feel like this will never come apart.|
I think that if you want the clinched part of the nail to be as short as possible, you might try a different method which involves driving the nail through the wood into a steel plate. I haven't had such good luck with that method, as I have yet to figure out how to steer which way the nail will bend. This way, I feel is dummy proof. Anyone should be able to get the nails in a relatively straight line.