As for all other building materials, a critical aspect of wood structures is the manner by which members are connected. Wood products are building materials which are easily drilled, chiseled, or otherwise shaped to facilitate the connection of members, and a number of methods and a wide range of products are available for connecting wood. The installation of metal fasteners is the most common method of connecting wood products and a wide range of hardware is available. These range from the nails and the light connectors used for light framing construction to the bolts, side plates and other hardware used for heavy member connections. Each type of fastener is designed to be used with a particular type of construction.
For many applications, such as nailing for light-frame wall construction, metal fasteners serve only a structural purpose, and will be hidden from view by interior and exterior finishes. In other cases where wood members serve a structural purpose and are left exposed to add visual interest to a design and give a robust appearance to a structure, thought must be given to the connection layout and the selection and finishing of the wood products themselves. In other instances, where metal fasteners are exposed to view, the designer might want them to be as inconspicuous as possible. This can be done by selecting fasteners such as split rings and bolts, by reducing the visual impact of hardware through recessing it within the wood members, or by using painting to reduce the prominence of a connection.