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7D nails for supers and hive bodies (Galvanized vs hot dipped, vs electro-galvanized)

10275 Views 35 Replies 26 Participants Last post by  Joseph Clemens
Since a major beekeeping company took over a month for my nails to come in, I decided to start buying nails locally. The only issue is I cannot find a 7D nail anywhere locally. Only 6d and 8d. As there are many threads on this subject, I wanted to take it a step further with questions about what will leach out or corrode in the wood, and what not to use so I'm not faced with issues down the road. I'm faced with terms like "hot dipped galvanized" "galvanized" "electro-galvanized", "zinc electroplated" "pre-galvanized" and the list goes on.....

For the sake of not confusing the subject matter, please leave types of screws out if you don't mind. Just nails.


1. 7d nails (from Internet search) are 2.25". There are some 8d nails at local hardware stores that are also 2.25" as well as 2.5". What gives? Same thing?
2. Which of the galvanized, aluminum, cement-coated or stainless steel would be best to use on hives?
3. Which is best or worse in this matter to use? Shanks of (straight, ring, spiral) and heads of (common, box, casing, siding)?
4. What does the 7d indicate? Is it the head gauge of the nail? If so, then it appears the 6d is a larger head than the 7d.
5. Most "nail charts" have 6d and 8d but omit the 7d nail. I am assuming the reason is because there isn't much difference between the 8d and 7d?
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Just a quick answer for #2:

Stainless steel - typically most spendy, will likely outlast the wood they are placed in. If you want a 'show' hive this might be the way to go. Uneconomical otherwise.

Hot-dipped galvanized (HDG) - regular steel (also referred to as carbon steel or mild steel) that has been dipped in a bath of molten zinc, leaving a heavy coat of zinc on the surface. Zinc acts as a sacrificial coating; over time, rather than the steel rusting, the zinc does. The zinc just doesn't look bad when it rusts.

Electro-plated or electro-galvanized or zinc plated or zinc-electroplated - carbon steel that has been dipped in a bath containing zinc ions. An electric current is passed through the metal, which chemically deposits zinc on the surface. The same effect as hot-dipped galvanized, but the coating looks better and lasts half as long (or less).

Cement coated - carbon steel coated with a non-corroding material. Works great when the coating is intact. . .

Aluminum - not as corrosive as steel, but will still 'rust' given enough time. Spendy, and difficult to hammer in without bending - the material is typically softer.

Bottom line - HDG is probably the best matched material for the life of the wood they are hammered into. Cheaper than stainless, but last longer than others. Other than the issues of finding 7d, readily available.
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Here's my two cents.

If you've ever tried to pull apart a wood pallet then you know they don't give up easy. They are made with either ring shanked or spiral nails.

I agree with Brian on the fact that hot dipped galvanized is the way to go. You may have to look a little harder for it but worth it.
Sizes of nails, for US
The size of a nail is determined by its length. In some types a definite relationship exists between the length and the diameter of the shank. To illustrate this point, examine a 2" common wire nail, a 2" casing nail, and a 2" finishing nail. It will be found that the wire nail is made of 11-1/2-gage wire, the casing nail of 12-1/2-gage wire, and the finishing nail of 13-gage wire. While all three are the same length they are of different diameters, the common wire nail being the thickest and the finishing nail the thinnest.

In the United States, the length of a nail is designated by its penny size, written with a number and the abbreviation d for penny; for example, 10d for a ten-penny nail. A larger number indicates a longer nail, shown in the table below. Nails under 1¼ inch, often called brads, are sold mostly in small packages with only a length designation or with length and wire gauge designations; for example, 1" 18 ga or 3/4" 16 ga.
Penny sizes originally referred to the price for a hundred nails in England in the 15th century: the larger the nail, the higher the cost per hundred. The system remained in use in England into the 20th century, but is obsolete there today. The d is an abbreviation for denarius, a Roman coin similar to a penny; this was the abbreviation for a penny in the UK before decimalisation.
penny size/length(inches)
2d 1
3d 1¼
4d 1½
5d 1¾
6d 2
7d 2¼
8d 2½
9d 2¾
10d 3
12d 3¼
16d 3½
20d 4
30d 4½
40d 5
50d 5½
60d 6

See Below for Gauge/Length Relationship for Wire Nails (Not Casing or Finishing)

Text Line Parallel Plot Slope
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You are way overthinking this subject. Look around at barns that are 75 years old, no paint, and still no real problem with the nails.

Any nail will outlast the beekeeper and his equipment. The use of a good glue is far more beneficial than the nail.

If you are making a show hive then it will matter, If you are looking for functional hives, use either 6, 7, or 8 in the one that you can find the cheapest.

I have been making my boxes since I started in 2008. My 2c follows Cleo's thinking. I use 6d 2inch galvanized, Titebond 2, and rabbet joints. I cut, clamp and glue, drill pilot holes, nail, and paint.
One thing I learned early on is that carpentry that is very accurate can be a PIA when it comes time to pry the boxes apart. If the boxes stack perfectly it can be really hard to get your hive tool in. This means that my favorite hive tool is not the one I have from Mann Lake, the steel is too thick, but one that turned up at work out of the blue.
Sometimes, it's hard to find 7d nails. When I used to use nails and I ran out of 7d, I just used 8d instead. I prefer to go one size up than one size down. As mentioned here, the glue is very important so I never felt that I'd "make or break" my new box based on a small difference in nail size. Later, I switched to staples and that's what I use now. Hot dipped galvanized is what I prefer for any galvanized nail although I do re-nail my 200+ year old siding with stainless steel nails when I repaint the house. I do that because I sand before I prime and the sander sands the galvanized coating off any exposed nail heads rendering them susceptible to rusting.
If you use a good glue (Llike Titebond II or III) the glut joint will be stronger than the wood it joins.

That means nails serve little purpose other than holding the joint until the glue sets.

Both 6d or 8d nails will hold well enough that you'll never notice a difference.
For the boxes that come predrilled, the 6d Hot Dipped Box nails work very well.

We stock 7d nails here at the Farmer's Coop where I work.
Hot dipped has burs from the galvanizing proses & doesn't come out as easily. A commercial friend of mine buys hot dipped, screw shanked, 8's.
Our home depot & lows both sell 7's
the 6d Hot Dipped Box nails work very well.
I agree with D Semple. For years I predrilled all the holes and used 6d. Never had a problem. Then about 5 years ago I bought a Hitachi stapler and now I use TiteBond 3 and staple.

I use a crown stapler with 1 1/2" staples (the longest it will take) which is the same length as a 4d nail...
Common nails are not made (at least not readily available) in 7d, but box nails are. I use 7d galvanized box nails in my boxes.
When looking for nails most people get that the penny size refers the length of the nails. but you also run into type of nail. Sinker, Common, Box, Joist Hanger, Concrete etc. Each of these have specific uses with different pluses and minuses. I use a 6d galvanized box nail for hive boxes. A box nail has a thinner diameter to help prevent splitting of the wood when nailing into the edge of a board. They also bend easier when driving them. Galvanized to prevent rust but they will also discolor the wood. Stainless steel is used to prevent the discoloring when you still want rust prevention. I use 6d galvanized ring shank nails to build fences. If I got them for making boxes and hand driving I woudl get yelled at those who are doing the assembly. they are even harder to drive. but they hold stronger usually. Your wood needs to be stable for them to work well.

At any rate I would find 6d galvanized box nails or as close to it as you can readily find. IF all you can find is common then pre drill. This does the same thing as a box nail would afford and you have a stronger nail that is easier to drive.

You then have the various methods of galvanizing. some work better than other. the main thing is you do not want to pay for higher priced coatings than you need and still have a coating that stays on the nail. I like hot dipped myself.
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We like the Maze double dipper 7d BOX nail so well be bought all they had (400lbs?) when we heard they where discontinued. They where the best we could find.

Crazy Roland
Amazon sells the 7d galvanized. FWIW, ring shanked nails were mentioned above; they don't hold any better than smooth nails in end grain same goes for screws in end grain. :)

Great thread!
>they don't hold any better than smooth nails in end grain same goes for screws in end grain.

I would have to disagree. They may not hold as well as the same nail in cross grain, but they hold significantly better than smooth nails in end grain.
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