An excerpt from Joshua Klein’s forthcoming book, Joined: A Bench Guide to Furniture Joinery:
“Now to join the two boards. Place the square-end board in the vise a touch higher than a support block and place the rabbeted board into place on top, just as you did with the dovetails. Make sure there are no unsightly gaps and make any necessary adjustments now.
Get yourself some legit handmade nails from a blacksmith. If you don’t know a local smith, a quick internet search will pull up some options. Many smiths don’t feel like making nails because most customers balk at the somewhat expensive cost per piece, so if you find a kind soul who will set you up with nails, treat ’em good. As an alternative, haunt antique stores and flea markets for boxes of old fasteners. Cut nails are relatively common, but you can occasionally find hand-wrought examples in reusable condition too.
The size of your pilot holes is very important. Find a bit the diameter of the nail one third of the way past the tip. In pine, this is enough clearance for driving, but still ensures a firm bite into the wood. In hardwoods, you may want to relieve the very top of the hole a little bigger, but testing on scrap wood will tell you all you need to know.
Gently scribe the centerline of the board below onto the face of the rabbeted board, then eyeball even nail spacing. Make sure you’re no closer than 1” to the ends of the joint. I chose to use three nails on this 9”-wide board; the number of nails depends on your stock width.
Remove the rabbeted board and bore the pilot holes at a slight angle inward as shown. When the nails are driven like this, they are less liable to work loose over the years of seasonal fluctuation and heavy use. The center hole is also at a slight angle, but it doesn’t matter which direction.”