More details on what I'm building below.

I need something to hold 3/4" plywood in place sturdily enough that I can keep my angles correct and mark it; but loosely enough I can take it apart easily.

I could drive screws in and then drive them out and then drive them back in again, but that seems inadvisable, and it wouldn't work where I need to mate the edge of the plywood to plywood (it'll be glued).

I know I could use an 18-gauge nailer but I am wondering if I could get away with a pin nailer instead, since it'll be easier to pull the boards apart that way.

Will 23-gauge pin nails work?

Presently I do not own a nail gun of any type (or I would just test it) - I'm going to be buying a nailer for this job.

Project details: I am building an awkward shaped cabinet (rough design below) that will sit on uneven ground. It's 55" tall. My plan is to build it 'in-place' (i.e. taking measurements on how things actually line up and are level rather than calculating and cutting beforehand).

It's made out of veneered 3/4" plywood, 1/2" plywood, and some 2x4" and 2x2"s in unobtrusive places. I need some way to hold half the pieces upright and in-place while I draw marking lines and take measurements. Then I need to deconstruct it, jigsaw out curves in a couple places after it's been marked, stain it, and then re-assemble half of it (permanently this time). Then I can measure, cut, stain, and put in the shelves.

General shape:

│    \
│     \
│      \
│       \
│        \
│         \
│          \
 \          \
  \          \
   \          \
  • 2
    Hi, welcome to StackExchange. "and it wouldn't work where I need to mate the edge of the plywood to plywood (it'll be glued)." Yes it could. But that aside, do you know the masking tape + superglue trick?
    – Graphus
    Dec 21, 2022 at 7:27

3 Answers 3


1-3/8” 23g, if you use enough of them, will probably hold a structure together long enough. (Top tip: don’t waste time trying to lever the old nails out after disassembly. Just bend them back and forth until they snap, usually below the surface.)

2” 18g nails would do better if you could bear the marring. Understand the ‘cut’ of the nail, which will affect how they go awry and possibly break through your sheet goods where you don’t want them.

And while it’s nice to own every nail size out there, an 18g gun is way more versatile, so if I was trying to buy just one, it would be the 18g.

Last thing. Safety specs are good. I’ve had brad nails bounce into my face.

  • 1
    +20 for wearing eyes! I too, have had nails bounce. Heck, I had a piece of vinyl siding break off and bounce off my safety glasses.
    – FreeMan
    Jan 3, 2023 at 17:01

Graphus mentioned the "superglue and masking tape trick" in a comment, but I'll expand:

  • Apply masking tape (usually painter's tape) to each surface to be temporarily joined.
  • Then apply some super glue to the tape on one surface (and, usually an accelerant spray to the other surface).
  • Bring the pieces together and (hand) clamp for roughly 5-30 seconds (check your brand of superglue, reduce the time by the amount indicated if using accelerant) and they'll be strongly glued together in the position you held them.

To separate the pieces, just pull. The tape will pull away from one piece of wood. Pull the tape off the other piece of wood and throw away all the tape.

This trick is often used in a wide variety of woodworking situations where you need a strong but temporary bond.


Instead of temporarily nailing it, I would try to figure out some way to hold it together with clamps. Less damaging to the wood, easier to take apart, and the cost should be the same or less (since you don't have the nail gun yet). You can probably do what you need using some combination of regular clamps, scrap wood, corner clamps, and/or these corner clips from Rockler.

enter image description here

  • 1
    If I understand the design here there are many non-square corners in the project which makes the clips pictured unusable. Clamping would be difficult even doing this separated, on the floor or on a table or bench, but since the OP wants to partially build in situ I think it's basically impossible.
    – Graphus
    Dec 23, 2022 at 10:39

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