Plastic Composite Nails for Workholding

I feel that this topic has come up before, but I couldn’t find a thread on it in the search. I would like to talk about plastic composite nails, specifically from Raptor Nails.

The idea, for anyone not familiar, is to use plastic nails instead of steel brad nails or narrow crown staples for work-holding. The primary advantage is that if you were to accidentally hit a plastic nail it wouldn’t wreck your tooling.

I finally decided it was time to change over to composite nails myself this weekend when I got really frustrated removing steel brads from my sled support pieces. I looked at their website, and the longest brad nails that they have that will fit in my gun are the 1" long 18ga. I felt like that was pretty short, but I figured I would give them a try.

So the next day I get a call from one of their sales-people who saw that I was going to be using mine for CNC work-holding. He told me that the 18 ga aren’t strong enough for machining. He offered to refund me the order, and send me sample of the nails I ordered and the ones he recommended for this purpose, the 15ga 1 1/4" finish nails. I’ll have to rent a larger finishing nailer, but I’m curious what the differences are going to be.

Out of curiousity, those who use plastic nails, what types do you use? Do you need a finish nailer to get enough strength out of it?


I’ve been thinking of 3D printing wood fasteners for work holding.

Just a thought I’ve been playing with.

Thank you

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I guess I can imagine some advantage to using finish nails for securing the workpiece/pieces, but I have about a dozen 1 3/4" wood screws that I use/reuse constantly. They are pretty easy to see, and occasionally I have moved them around “on the fly” when they look like they are too close to the cut path. I use 1/4" thick siding insulation for my waste board, with the frame’s 3/4" plywood base panel as the foundation to screw into.
Using the screws with a drill gun allows me some warp/depth adjustment with the screws, allowing for smoother sled transitions to the filler or apron material.

good luck!


Not having my Maslow yet I was wondering about the best ways to keep stock from moving also.
Idea 1. using screws in the corners about 3/4" from edges.
idea 2. Having a permanent apron and using small wooden wedges (like you would use when installing laminate flooring).

Now I have absolutely no ideas on how to deal with material that is warped or bowed. (seems like every sheet of 1/4" plywood I have ever purchased has had an incredible amount of bowing occur on the 20 minute drive from lumber yard to my house even though I make sure it is laying flat in box of my pickup.)

Any solutions for dealing with bowing that is safe for router bits would be greatly appreciated.

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Mount a spoil board and screw into it! The 80/60 frame is designed to give an outer frame and allow screwing extra parts to the outside apron to make custom sized solutions and furring outward with diffrent sized spoil boards or none at all with 3/4 plywood.

Thank you

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No experience with the plastic nails, but a potentially great idea!

Here’s an idea relative to using screws to hold down your material. If you are using Fusion 360 for CAM, it’s possible to define the location of screws in your material as fixtures. Then move your parts around to avoid the screws (fixtures). I think F360 also has the ability to reroute the tool paths to avoid fixturing.

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@Bee : do you mean these things?

I was also thinking of using them


It’s possible to print multiple types of fasteners.


Thank you


I’ve been using an idea i read here somewhere.

I predrill on empty spaces as a first move in the cam.

In the modeling i make a 20mm donut (2x6mm so the bit can pas on both sides, and 6mm for the head of the screw, and 2mm extra to be safe). I copy it a few times across the workpiece, if it fits in the empty space, it is safe to screw there.
Then in the cam i drill a 2mm deep hole in the center of the workpiece, with a different tool, so the program halts afterwards. Then i screw the skirts in place, place the board, let it drill the holes, screw down once the sled clears the hole, et voila, workpiece held down, and very little chance of my bit hitting it.


A lot of work-holding is personal preference. Eventually I’d like to move to a cam-style clamp with my machine, but I have a lot of machine mods to do before I’m at that point.

I actually started out by using wood screws to hold my pieces in place, but I didn’t like it much. I’ve been using a 3/4" sheet of MDF as my spoilboard and the screws just tear it up. Also, I’ve nearly run into a screw or two and that would have been a bad time.

The idea of adding the screws in Fusion is a good one. I haven’t used fixtures in the CAM interface yet, that could help with weird cuts.

I personally really like the nailer. Maybe it’s just because I used them all the time when working routers in cabinet shops, and it’s just habit. I feel like it’s a lot quicker and easier to just tack something in place and let the machine run. I only have so much time to Maslow, after all. I get that the plastic nail is a little more expensive, but I don’t mind that for the convenience. I was merely curious if anyone else had already experimented with the different options that could share some wisdom.


Not the worst idea depending on the application. How to plan to go about it?

Could you print screws?:bow_and_arrow:



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Sweet like honey, Bee :honeybee:

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I ordered some of the 18 gauge raptor nails – They work in most 18 gauge pin nailers – They weren’t strong enough to shoot through the 1/2" MDF we were cutting – left heads standing proud and didn’t always go in straight – the 15 gauge nails require a special gun, like $350 – We use tabs, or screws – After the first pass outlines the object, it’s easy to see where to put a few screws.