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You probably haven't thought much about safety when it comes to driving and pulling nails. Perhaps you believe there isn't much to it. But almost everyone who drives nails eventually winds up with a bruised finger or banged-up fingernail. Other unpleasant things can happen too. A badly hit nail can fly and strike an eye, perhaps putting it out. Loose hammerheads can fly off. You can miss your target and give yourself a nasty wallop. A cracked handle can push a sliver into your palm. And it's likely to become infected if you don't get first aid  immediately.


Learn to drive nails quickly and cleanly. The first step is to be sure the hammer is in good condition. The head must beset at the proper angle and fit good and tight. The handle must be smooth, straight grained, shaped to give a good grip, and of the right length and weight to give good balance. The hammer face is important. Lt should be in good condition and not chipped or worn away from the shape the manufacturer gave it. Always use the right size hammer for the nail. There is an increase in the use of steel and fiberglass shank hammers. Basically, the same precautions apply that we have recommended for wooden handled hammers. 


Drive the nail so that the center of the hammer face always meets the nail head. If it doesn't, the nail may fly at the first blow or bend at the second. Lt requires practice to hit a nail right every time. Learn to groove your swing; that is, make the hammer head go through the same path to hit the nail head, always dead center and at right angles. 


Remember, nails left in old form lumber, packing crates, or in lumber from wrecking operations are like a snake's fangs. Pull these nails out immediately or bend them over. You may be the one to step on them or rip your hand open. It's easy to get hurt when pulling nails. One "do-it-yourselfer" tried to pull a 40-penny spike with an ordinary claw hammer. When it didn't come out, he threw his weight into it. The handle broke and his knuckles landed with a wallop on the edge of the beam. Two of them were broken. He should have pulled the spike up until he could get a pry bar on it, then placed a block of wood under the bar as a fulcrum to increase the height as more of the nail was removed. Never use a "cheater" pipe on the handle. 


Driving and pulling nails is not as simple as it seems. But once you've got the knack, you can do it efficiently and reduce your chances of getting hurt.