When building a deck, always nail a thinner member to a thicker member. Hot-dipped zinc-coated nails are a good choice. For more holding power, consider using either ring- or spiral-shanked nails, or go with deck screws. If using screws, it's best to pre-drill pilot holes.
Toenailing styles can vary. Some pros like to drive three or four nails into a stud, toenailing from both sides at about a 30-degree angle. The job is easier if you first drive a holding nail on one side of the stud, then drive two nails on the opposite side. Remove the holding nail, then toenail the second side. You can also make up a 2x4 spacer to place between the studs.
Bent nails often result from poor hammering technique. However, they can also be caused by a dirty hammer face, especially when using cement-coated nails or working around adhesives. If you have problems, occasionally run a piece of fine sandpaper or emery cloth over the face. If you keep the face clean you will gain more solid contact with the nail and will avoid black marks on the wood caused by a dirty hammer.
Power drills come in 3 sizes; 1/4, 3/8, and 1/2-in. Size refers to the largest capacity of bit that will fit in the drill's chuck. 3/8-in. drills are the most versatile. They're powerful, yet light enough to easily hold and manage. Larger bits can drill bigger holes, so 1/2-in. drills are best for big, heavy-duty projects. Drills with higher RPM ratings (1200-rpm or more) are better for boring smaller holes into wood. Lower speed models are better at making larger holes into metal.
When you buy a drill bit set, it most likely will come in a storage case. This case will help you figure out which size bit you need to use. When drilling holes for a pilot or lead hole for a nail, find which slot in the bit case the nail will fit in. The next size down is the bit you should choose. When drilling a pilot hole for a screw, you need to choose two bits. One for the starter hole and one for the pilot hole. Find which slot in your bit storage case the screw will fit in. That is the size of bit you should use for the pilot hole. For the starter hold, use the next smaller sized bit.
To reduce wood splits, such as when building a deck, first drill pilot holes for the nails using a drill bit size about three-quarters the diameter of the nail. In a pinch, if you don't have a bit you can chuck in one of the nails being used. Blunting the nail point will also help prevent splits, since a blunt nail will tear, rather than spread the wood fibers. An alternate method to avoid splitting the ends of boards is to allow an extra length to hang beyond the edge of the deck, do the nailing, then use a circular saw to trim off the ends.
You can buy depth stops to attach to drill bits to make blind holes at a certain depth. But for occasional jobs you can gauge depth by using masking tape around the bit at the right depth. Or, as shown, drill through the center of a dowel section, using the bit you need for the hole. Cut the dowel so the exposed bit will be the depth needed for the hole.
To drill a cleaner hole into a tricky material such as sheet metal or plastic the material in between two pieces of scrap wood. This way, any imperfections will occur on the top or bottom piece.
A simple way to clean corrosion from a twist drill bit is to let your power drill help you. While applying oil to the bit at its point of entry, drill repeatedly into a block of hardwood secured in a vise. Friction of the bit against the wood and abrasion of the wood chips will provide a scouring action to clean up the bit in a hurry.
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.