What nails to use for string art?

What nails to use for string art?

There are 3 main types of nails I can suggest using for string art projects and I use 2 of them in my daily stringing action. All of them have their advantages and disadvantages and it all comes down to your personal preferences and what you can get in your country. First things first - yes, you can use screws, do I know something about using screws for string art projects - no.

Lost head nails

1 - Nails originally used for nailing floorboards aka lost head nails (use term: lost head nails for googling). These nails will be great for circular geometric designs where you don’t need a not of nails but the nails you have need to hold a lot of strings. As it is in the name - their head is really small and you can have your string falling off if you don’t push it down and leave it close to the head. As floorboards comes in a lot of color shades, one of the advantages for these nails is that they have quite a lot of color/material variation.

pile of lost head nails

As I don’t make a lot of sophisticated circular designs I am not using these ones, you can also substitute them with the following candidates in my nail list.

The nails you can get at your local hardware store but they are not as pretty as you want

The second type of nails is the plain ol’ hardware nails. They can come in a pre-weighted packets or you can get someone to weigh in as much as you need. These hardware nails can be dirty if they are made from cheaper steel - in that case just soak them in acetone and watch how all the grime stays in the liquid. Just, please, do clean them as they will make your hands and therefore your base and even threads dirty and NO ONE likes that.


basic metal nails for making string art


You can also look for zinc coated nails - then they will be in silver color and clean from the start whereas ones form cheaper steel will be dark grey. Zinc coated nails will also better withstand the test of time as the process of how they are made ensures that they don’t change color on the other hand the nails washed in acetone can become darker over time. 


metal nails for string art signs


The size of the nails depends on the design you are making but I don’t recommend going smaller than 10mm (around 3/8 inch). I am using 1.2 mm (head size) by 16 mm (length) nails, in inches that would be around 5/8 inch for the length. I find that this size suits me good for specific, not very detailed designs. These nails are great for silhouettes - as they are quite long and allows me to do quite dense layer of threads.

Decorative nails aka why you are reading this post

I am sure that this is the section most of you were waiting for. So the little sometimes gold color nails that are a crime to color with some marker or paint. These are the ones I use the most. The ones I have been using since 2015 and will use for good a good part of my future projects. The one and the only - small nails originally used for upholstery projects with the sophisticated name - ESCUTCHEON PINS (google: ESCUTCHEON nails). I have them in my local hardware store BUT they don’t have the name on the package nor anyone in Latvian hardware store would know what I need if I would ask for nails with that name so before ordering some online I suggest going to your local stores with google image search open on your smartphone and just show them the picture. If no luck there then order them online - but be aware - they will be much more expensive than the previous 2 types of nails I wrote about. Also, you can try asking for small dome head nails - but you can end up with really big dome heads - like something you see when you look at an reaaaally old, upholstered chair. 

nails for string art signs


And here you go. I hope this helps you and this will definitely help me, next time someone asks me about what nails I use. Do you use different nails and love them - let me know!

Ready for your first (or next string art project)? Check out this post about our Top 10 best-selling string art patterns!

Happy Crafting! XOXO


Back to blog

Leave a comment