Finish carpentry isn't complete until a nailset does its job
For friends who are finishing floors and trim, this classic nailset from Stanley focus a hammer's final blows onto the heads of finish nails, sinking them below the surface without damaging the surrounding wood. Its color-coded grips indicate the sizes of the tips: yellow = 1/32 inch, gray = 2/32, red = 3/32.
$7 for set of three, Stanley Tools
On this Japanese tool, the small, anvil-shaped head is actually a second nailset, meant for striking 8d nails in tight spaces. The 4/32-inch tip on the long shaft is flat, so hold it square to the nailhead and strike firmly to avoid a slip off. $6, leevalley.com
The rough surface of this Japanese tool still shows the hammer blows of the blacksmith who forged it. The head is narrow and slightly convex, but it will flatten and widen with repeated use. $12, japanwoodworker.com
A cushioned protector guards your fingers so you can concentrate on tip placement. The disk makes it harder to see what you're doing, but you don't have to guess about the tip size: It's clearly engraved in the head. $20 for a set of five (1/32 to 5/32), garrettwade.com
To use this spring-loaded, "hammerless" nailset, you hold the bottom half in a tight pincer grip and pull the top half away from the nailhead. Letting go pile-drives the tip into the nail and the nail into the wood—after about a half-dozen hits. Handy when you encounter an unexpected nailhead, say, while painting. $8, noxontools.com
The square-cut tip sets nails; the Japanese-style nail puller on the opposite end can dig them out, although the puller's claws will damage the surface whenever they extract an embedded nail.
To eliminate the chance of missing the mark, these tools have a hollow shaft that slides over the nail and rests on the wood. Striking the tool drives an internal pin against the nailhead; you can't miss. One disadvantage: You have to lift the tool up to see how deep you've driven the nail. For nails up to 5d, use the Nail Driver (far left), $6, leevalley.com. For nails up to 6d, use the self-centering nailset, $5, stanleytools.com.