Sunday, April 22, 2012

How to hammer a nail into a wall

Well I must accept that although this post is titled "how to hammer a nail into a wall", in reality I would not use a hammer and actually not even a nail. However this is often the most common thing one has to do to hang up things around the house, be it a calendar, a clock or some painting.
What you will need is a drill, a good masonry drill bit, water, wood piece or plastic anchors, screws and a screwdriver. If hammering a nail is the DIY thing you do most of the time, then it is probably helpful to keep the whole set of things in a small bag.

PVC Anchor

To begin with determine if you are going to use plastic anchors or the traditional wood piece. Plastic anchors are much easier to work with and are hopefully easily available even in small towns. If not pick one up in a larger place when you can. If you need to use wood, using a knife gently shave off the wood to get a taper so that it fits into the hole.

Masonry drill bit 
Choice of drill bit : Use a masonry drill bit. These are different from wooden or steel drill bits. You can identify them by the slight extra bulge at the tip. Chose a drill bit that is a little smaller than your plastic anchor. As you drill the hole may become a little wider than you expect.
Drill : Preferably a hammer drill. It is noisier but quicker, especially if you are drilling through good quality cement.
Wood/Steel drill bit

Precaution : In days of concealed wiring and plumbing make sure that you are not anywhere near water pipes and wires. The last thing you would want is water gushing out of your hole or getting electrocuted. If you do not  have access to the plans (as would be the case of most people), make an educated guess, looking at where the junction boxes are, the switches are and avoid these tracks. Be careful when drilling in a bathroom. Do not drill in the line just above a tap.

Mark the point where you want to drill and drill away. Now you can drill quite deep if you are not careful. A simple way of determining the depth you should drill is to place a small piece of tape on the drill bit as an indicator of depth. If your house has good cementing, the first bit of drilling is usually the most difficult until you enter the brick.
Water : I do not know if this is good practice, but this works for me. I do not have a very powerful drill. I stay in a house where the cementing is so strong that it is so difficult to drill into the wall. When I feel I am making no headway, I dip the tip of the bit in water and insert it back into the hole. This kind of makes the drilling wet. Only a little bit of water, two or three times and I am able to drill a hole.
Place your plastic anchors into this hole. Screw in the screw using a screwdriver to the depth needed.

Never use a hammer on a screw
PVC Anchor snug in the hole
Hammering a nail directly into a wall rarely works. I find screws better as they can easily be taken out. Nails may rust and break on taking them out. If you are using wood instead of a plastic anchor, hammer the wood in. Using a chisel or a good side blow cut off the extra wood piece.
Do not hammer a screw. I personally feel hammering a screw is the mark of shoddy workmanship.
If you do have access to stainless steel screws use them wherever you can. They are more expensive but will not rust.
Precaution : Do not attempt to hammer a nail into very old buildings where the plaster is chipping off. As you drill you will make a large embarrassing hole in the plaster.
The final screw
Hang it  up


  1. Incidentally, when I decided to build my own table, the first thing I did was buy myself a drilling machine. And the first thing I ever did with it was to drill a hole in the wall (A hidden spot in the balcony for practice) and install a screw :) I did all this without any clue as to how I should do it. Brought back memories.

    Do plastic anchors hold the screws in place tightly ? I have only used wooden bits for it.

    A very illustrative post.

    - Somu (woodooz)

  2. Thank Somu. I have not used them for really heavy things. But I think they will be as good as wood. The only problem is that they come in only a few sizes, so they are useful for fatter 1 inch or 1.5 inch screws. I have actually moved over to plastic anchors now and rarely use wood. Besides I bought a packet of 100 plastic anchors and it takes years to drill 100 holes!

    1. Ha ha like your comment on the 100 holes. I don't have that many walls, and others are too scared to outsource this work to me :P

      Btw, couldn't help but share this post. A very useful one indeed.

  3. Very nice post Vinay, find it very useful. Recently purchased Bosch drill set and i was bit hesitant to use, after reading this i'm bit comfortable to start off.

    Samson CJ

  4. Thanks Samson. Wish you all the best! Love your photos!

  5. Thanks a lot Vinay, your blog inspire me to involve more into DIY world.I'm frequently visit your blog.
    Thanks for liking my photographs :)

  6. Great point to noted this article. Using a hammer nail you can get a perfect hole into the wall. When I drill in to the wall I used a nail to create a hole. It is the best way to perfect drilling.