AS A GRADUATE STUDENT RESEARCHING how to make houses more hurricane-resistant, Ed Sutt looked at the damage from hurricanes Marilyn and Opal, which hit the Caribbean and the Florida Panhandle in 1995, and saw that much of it was related to the nails not holding. So, Sutt started working on a new design that would keep the nail shank from withdrawing from framing and the nail head from pulling through sheathing.

After six years of work, Sutt, a Ph.D. in civil engineering who now works for Bostitch, unveiled the HurriQuake nail. Made of a carbon-steel alloy with angled barbs, a twisted shank, and a larger nail head, the HurriQuake Nail can double a house's resistance in high winds and provide as much as 50 percent more resistance to earthquake-type forces, according to independent testing from Clemson University's Wind Load Test Facility. And if that's not enough of a reason to consider them, they are great at reducing floor squeaks, Sutt says.

On a 2,000-square-foot house, HurriQuake nails would cost about $15 more than standard nails, Sutt says. Plus, any nail gun that shoots a 16D common nail will shoot the HurriQuake. Bostitch initially is selling the nails only in the coastal regions from Texas to North Carolina but is adding new production lines to meet nationwide demand. They're also available on

For all those reasons, Popular Science magazine selected the HurriQuake nail as its 2006 Innovation of the Year, winning out over 100 new technologies from around the world.

While Sutt says he felt a mixture of elation and disbelief at being selected for the honor, he's most excited about the recognition of the critical role of fasteners in construction.

“Through all the research I did, I found that fasteners are the most important part of the structural system of the home, but no one appreciates them for that.”

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Orlando, FL.