Trying out Raptor composite nails
May 4, 2014 | 7:00 pm CDT

When I first heard about Raptor nails, it seemed like an improbable product, I mean plastic nails? The concept alone busts the whole stereotype of nails. “Hard as nails” just doesn’t seem to go with plastic. As I delved deeper, I found there are lots of applications for these intriguing fasteners.

What they are

Raptor nails are actually a composite blend of polymer and fiberglass. They have a square profile and are driven by special pneumatic nail guns that work pretty much the same as standard nail guns. The manufacturer says they can be used in most applications where metal fasteners are used, but because they are non-metallic they have some advantages.

For example, one of the most popular uses of the composite nails in the woodworking industry is in fixturing for CNC machining applications. Instead of relying on a vacuum hold-down or some mechanical clamping device, you can simply use Raptor nails to nail your workpiece to the spoilboard in the CNC router. Standard woodworking tooling cuts right through the Raptor nails with no damage to the tooling.

Other possible applications include products that need to be put into RF or microwave drying ovens. The Raptor nails can withstand temperatures up to 350 degrees F for several hours. And since the composite nails don’t rust, they are an alternative fastener for outdoor and corrosive applications. I am told they are used by boatbuilders, casket makers, in timber processing and as temporary clamps in a lot of woodworking applications.

How they work

Using a special Omer nail gun, we tried the 15-gauge Raptor nails in both 1-inch and 1-1/4-inch lengths in a variety of materials, including solid oak. The nails have twice the tensile strength holding power of conventional nails because the composite actually fuses to the wood when it enters. However, the composite nails have only about half the sheer strength.

To test the nails in fixturing, we nailed some wood together and ran it through a SawStop saw with the cut designed to hit the Raptor nails. SawStop saws have a safety blade braking device designed to stop the blade and saw instantly if the saw senses flesh or other conductive material, such as metal. The SawStop had no problem cutting through the Raptor nails with no damage to the saw and no triggering of the SawStop device.

Raptor offers a wide range of composite fasteners including nails and staples in a variety of sizes. This is the kind of product that the more you think about it, the more uses you’ll find for it. You can learn more at

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About the author
William Sampson

William Sampson is a lifelong woodworker, and he has been an advocate for small-scale entrepreneurs and lean manufacturing since the 1980s. He was the editor of Fine Woodworking magazine in the early 1990s and founded WoodshopBusiness magazine, which he eventually sold and merged with CabinetMaker magazine. He helped found the Cabinet Makers Association in 1998 and was its first executive director. Today, as editorial director of Woodworking Network and FDMC magazine he has more than 20 years experience covering the professional woodworking industry. His popular "In the Shop" tool reviews and videos appear monthly in FDMC.