Shavings can pile up around a hole being drilled, making it hard for you to see what you are doing. To prevent this, push the point of the drill bit through a 4-in. strip of masking tape, then draw the tape up the bit so it will clear the work. Fold the strip lengthwise to bring the sticky sides together. The tape "wings" will act as a fan to clear the surface.
As with screws, a little paraffin or beeswax will make driving certain nails, especially casing nails, much easier. If you are driving a cement-coated nail, always keep it going all the way once you start. Friction heats up the nail's coating and if you stop midway it cools down and tries to glue the nail in place.
Hot dipped galvanized nails have a rougher and more durable galvanizing while electro galvanized nails are smoother and often more prone to rust.
It's always preferable to nail through the thinner piece into the thicker piece. Driving the nail at an angle may not be attractive, but will give you a stronger hold. Use a nail that is long enough to allow approximately two thirds of the nail to be driven into the thicker piece.
When a smooth, finished appearance is necessary, stop hammering the finishing nail approximately 1/8 of an inch above the surface. Then place a nailset onto the tip of the nail head and set it into the surface with a couple of sharp taps.
An easy way to prevent a nail from splitting wood is by tapping the point of the nail with a hammer. This blunts the point and prevents the wood from splitting.
There are times when you have just one hand free to both hold the nail in place and hammer. One hand nailing is easier than it sounds. Simply wedge the nail between the hammer's claw with the point facing forward and the nail head resting on the hammer head base. Swing the hammer with the nail/claw facing forward. The force should give the nail a start into the surface. Remove the claw from the nail, and finish the job with the hammer head side.
One way to help either screws and nails penetrate wood without splits is to use beeswax on the fastener. In fact, some carpenters will drill a hole in the end of a wood hammer handle to fill it with beeswax. An alternative is to buy a wax seal for a toilet. It's made of beeswax processed to stay soft, and costs much less.
You can avoid splitting or marring wood, such as hardwood molding, by using what is called a nail spinner. With this low-cost device chucked into your power drill, you just insert the nail and then "drill" it into position. The nail will penetrate to within 1/4 in. or so of the surface, then you can drive it home with a hammer and a nailset.
The plastic containers used for push-up deodorants can be recycled into excellent holders for items like nailsets, small drill bits or saw blades. The containers have easy-to-remove caps, and you can push up the bottoms to expose smaller items. Use a felt-tipped pen to mark what's stored inside.