Most reasonably strong folks can hit a timber tie on their first go. If you're not strong enough for the 60 penny nails, bend them part of the way (with a vice and a fucking hammer if you want, however) and finish them.
Folks get fancy with wraps these days, but I just use a little piece of suede.
my dad is the mechanically inclined one......i hit him up for 60 penny nail and he looked at me cross eyed and gave me a '16 penny nail'.....i've wrapped it in a piece of towel and have put about a 10-15 degree bend in it.
i'm gonna get a timber tie tomorrow.
edit: just finished off the summvabitch.......1.5inches right? didn't need the vice.....where is it measured to?