Brad Nailer vs Finish Nailer Buyer’s Guide
Last Updated January 2018
You are probably wondering what is the difference between a Brad Nailer and a Finish Nailer? To the untrained eye these tools would appear to be the same, but in reality they have a very different purpose. They are roughly the same size, they look the same and use similar nails, so what is the difference and which one should you use for your task?
The answer is quite simple, there are a few easy examples which can help and assist you with making the right choice on which one to use on your next project.
When to use a Brad Nailer?
A Brad Nailer is generally smaller than a finish nailer. This is one way to determine the difference between the two nailers. The Brad Nailer does not have the same power as the Finish Nailer because it uses very small nails.
A Brad Nailer is designed to run 18 gauge, fine wire brad nails. These are very small and are very hard to drive in manually, these are ideal for light-weight trim but do not have the holding strength for larger, heavier projects. They are almost invisible to the naked eye once they have been driven into the wood. And you will not need to use wood putty.
When to use a Finish Nailer?
A Finish Nailer is used for much larger and bulky wood trim. it is more versatile than a Brad Nailer. This will run 15 or 16 gauge finish nails which are larger than a Brad nail, which gives them increased holding strength. If you are attaching large or heavy pieces such as baseboards or cabinets then you really want to be using the Finish Nailer and not a Brad Nailer, if not then you run the risk of the wood pulling away from the wall.
The biggest problem with using a finish nail gun is that it will not perform well with delicate wood or thin trims. You almost certainly need to cover nail openings with putty and there is an increased probability for wood splitting and causing imperfections on the wood. You really need to make the decision based on your specific task.
Once you have determined which tool you need for your project and best suits your needs, take a look at our top picks.
now you have chosen which tool you need, be sure to consider if you require a cordless/ battery powered nailer or a pneumatic/ air-powered nailer.
For the DIY person doing the odd jobs around the house, the battery powered nail gun will be the best choice as you don’t need to have a compressor to work the gun and will be easier to use in the awkward hard to reach places. Pneumatic nailers use a compressor to get the power through compressed air. The main advantage of a pneumatic nailer is that once it is connected to a working compressor you will not loose force at which the nails are driven into the wood.Another great benefit of having a pneumatic nailer is that you can use it where there is no electricity available. It will not suite everyone having a compressor to use the nailer but you will not just use the compressor for the nailer, it will get used to tidy up the work place, blow car/van tyres up etc…
Take a look at our Generators page if you need a Pneumatic Nailer, these will power your nail gun and much more.
We will now take a more in depth look into each nailer.
Pneumatic Brad Nailer
DEWALT DWFP12231 18 gauge, 2-Inch Brad Nailer Kit
DEWALT DWFP12231 18 gauge, 2-Inch Brad Nailer Kit is an excellent tool with many enticing qualities. The magnesium body delivers a strong and lightweight design. It also features a tool-free depth of drive adjustment for proper setting of nail heads, along with a tool-free jam release mechanism for easy nail removal. The rear exhaust helps to keep contaminates away from work. This unit is made to drive 18 gauge nails from 5/8inch to 2inch length with a sequential style trigger, and 100 nail magazine capacity. This unit has a removable non-marring nose tip with on tool storage, and an integrated rubber grip for improved comfort and anti-slip grip. It also has an adjustable belt hook that allows the tool to be kept near the user.
Hitachi NT50AE2 18-Gauge 5/8-Inch to 2-Inch Brad Nailer
Designed for Comfort and Efficiency With a lightweight aluminium body, the NT50AE2 weighs just 2.2 pounds. Dual Firing Options for Precise or Continuous Driving Featuring selective actuation for making tool-less firing transitions, the NT50AE2 Brad Nailer can be used for a variety of different applications. By simply sliding the selection control up or down with your hand, you can choose between intermittent and continuous firing. Intermittent firing is ideal for jobs that require precise driving, while the continuous setting can be used to fire nails at a rapid pace by using a bumping motion along the workpiece. Fitted with a convenient depth-of-drive adjustment knob located near the nose. Simply turn the dial half way to make quick, accurate modifications to the driving depth with no tools required. High Capacity Magazine for Reduced Downtime.
For further convenience a bottom-loading magazine that’s designed for quick and easy loading of 5/8 to 2 inch brad nails with head sizes between 0.075 and 1.9 mm. The magazine has a capacity of approximately 100 brad nails so you can go a long time between reloads. A visual nail indicator allows you to keep an eye on the number of nails in the magazine. Hitachi equipped the Nailer with an adjustable, 360-degree exhaust vent. Also includes no-mar nose cap that protects the workpiece and the tool. The NT50AE2 requires 70-120 psi operating pressure to function properly. It takes in air at a rate of 0.025 cubic feet per cycle at 100 psi.
The BTFP12233 Smart Point 18GA brad nailer is designed to drive 18GA brad nails from 5/8 inch to 2 inches in length. Smart Point technology offers easy nail placement. This unit also features oil-free operation which reduces the risk of oil stains. The nailer offers a tool-free jam release mechanism for easy nail removal and Dial-A-Depth control for precise countersinking of nails. The selectable trigger system allows for sequential or contact operation. Other features include oil-free operation, a 1/4-inch air fitting, rear air exhaust, and adjustable belt hook with an integrated pencil sharpener.
PORTER-CABLE BN200C 2-Inch 18GA Brad Nailer Kit
The Porter 2 Inch Brad Nailer Kit has a magnesium body that delivers both a strong and lightweight design. The brad nailer features a removable non-marring nose tip with on tool storage as well as an integrated rubber grip for improved comfort. The BN200C is equipped with a low nail reload indicator to help alert when to reload and has a special hardened driver blade for longer life. Its best features are tool free depth of drive adjustments and tool free jam release mechanism for easy nail removal and a rear exhaust to keep contaminates away from work area.
Makita’s 2-inch Brad Nailer features a durable and compact design with ease of use features including a narrow nose design that make it ideal for a wide variety of finish applications in Confined Areas. This Brad Nailer can operate from 60 to 115 PSI, and drives a range of 18 gauge brad nails from 5/8inch to 2 inch. The magazine capacity is up to 100 nails, with a quick release cam-lock to open the nail guide assembly to easily clear jammed nails. The cast and machined nose piece is engineered for precise contact with the workpiece, with a non-marring rubber nose engineered to protect the work surface. Rubber soft grip provides more comfort and control. Ideal for trim work, baseboard and crown molding installation, flooring and other woodworking applications.
Battery Brad Nailer
DEWALT DC608K 18-Volt 18-Gauge 2-Inch Brad Nailer Kit
The DEWALT DC608K cordless brad nailer portable tool, you can drive brads ranging in length from 5/8 inch to 2 inches as rapidly as five brads per second. The 7.4-pound tool is powered by a rechargeable 18-volt battery and shoots readily available 18-gauge brads. Its straight, box-style magazine holds 110 brads and is specially designed to seal out dust and debris that can cause the nailer to malfunction.
The DC608 can fire nails through softwood, hardwood, plywood, and other sheet goods. It’s the perfect tool for trim carpenters, cabinetmakers, and others who routinely install baseboard, crown and chair rail moldings, paneling, and window and door casings and jambs. The tool’s narrow, tapered nose fits into tight spaces. Choose between two operating modes: sequential for one-at-a-time nailing, or high-speed bump firing for rapid production work. Other features include: precise depth-control mechanism, swing-open nosepiece for clearing jams, safety contact lock-off that disables the trigger, and a reversible belt hook.
The DC608K 18-volt 18-gauge brad nailer kit comes with an 18-volt XRP NiCad battery, one-hour charger, reversible belt hook, safety glasses, and plastic storage case.
The Air Strike Brad Nailer kit includes an 18 Volt ONE+ Compact Lithium-Ion Battery, a Dual Chemistry Charger, 500 1-1/4 inch brad nails and a belt clip. The Ryobi Air Strike Brad Nailer Drives 18-gauge nails from 5/8 inch to 2 inch length. Air Strike technology provides cordless convenience. Selectable drive switch with Single sequential actuation mode for precision placement; Contact actuation mode for production speed. Grip-light technology engages LED by grasping the tool handle. Tool less depth of drive adjustment helps protect work surface and allows proper setting of nail heads. Convenient adjustment dial regulates air pressure for optimum results. 2 non-marring pads to keep work surface free of tool marks (1 inch storage position on rear of magazine).Tool less jam release for easy access to clear nails. Low nail indicator to quickly and easily see when it is time to re-load. Belt hook mounts to right or left side for added convenience.
PORTER-CABLE PCC790LA 20V MAX Lithium 18GA Cordless Brad Nailer Kit, Includes Battery and Charger
The PORTER-CABLE PCC790LA 20V MAX Lithium 18GA Brad Nailer Kit is 100% battery powered which eliminates need for compressor, hose or costly gas cartridges. The special motor design provides consistent firing power into various materials and climate conditions. This nailer features multiple tool free settings to provide increased productivity and user safety. The unit’s lightweight and optimal centre of gravity provide user comfort in multiple positions reducing user fatigue. It also offers multi functional dual LED lights to light up your workspace, and indicate errors. Fastener length capacity of 5/8inch to 2inch, magazine capacity of 100, with sequential firing mode and trigger lock. Up to 1300 nails per charge depending on battery.
Pneumatic Finish Nailer
The Numax SFN64 straight finish nailer has a lightweight aluminium design and a tool-free adjustable exhaust that conveniently directs exhaust away from your face. Its no-mar tip protects sensitive work surfaces, and its adjustable depth guide sets nails to just the right depth quickly and conveniently. The Numax SFN64 16 gauge straight finish nailer is great for interior and exterior finish and trim, furniture, cabinet work, and staircases.
SFN64 Features: 360 adjustable exhaust, aluminium cylinder and magazine, Finger depth adjustment Air filter / anti-dust cap, One piece driver blade, Quick jam release and No-mar pad. The 16 Fastener range 1inch to 2-1/2inch. The operating pressure is 70 – 110 psi andMagazine capacity is 100 nails. This gun is ideal for many applications such as: base molding, door and window casing, door installation, crown molding, hand railing and many other hobby or crafting projects.
Hitachi NT65MA4 1-1/4 Inch to 2-1/2 Inch 15-Gauge Angled Finish Nailer with Air Duster
Hitachi Power Tools provides professional-grade power tools for a variety of applications, including woodwork, metalwork, concrete, drilling, cutting and fastening. Hitachi is a leader in power tool research and development and has achieved many firsts in the power tool industry.
The Hitachi Angle Finish Nailer features Hitachi’s new industrial design and fires 15-gauge nails from 1-1/4-inch to 2-1/2-inch. The integrated air duster makes clearing debris from work surfaces quick and easy. Simply press the button and clear the surface where you need to place the nail. The NT65MA4 may be used for the installation of crown and base moldings, window and door casings, chair rails, cabinets, exterior trim and staircases. This package comes with safety glasses, a no-mar tip and a handy carrying case. Its tool-free depth adjustment provides simplicity and flexibility when fastening various types of wood. The easy clear nose makes for quick extraction in instances of nail jams.
DEWALT D51257K 1-Inch to 2-1/2-Inch 16 Gauge Finish Nailer
The DEWALT D51257K – 1 inch – 2-1/2 inch16-Gauge Finish Nailer. Tool-free features are: adjustable belt hook, nail depth adjustment, jam clearing, 360 Degree exhaust. Its motor works as oil free and oil lube unit. It has a low profile no-mar pad and trigger lock-off. It is lightweight, only 3.85 lbs. to reduce user fatigue. Uses 1inch to 2-1/2 inch 16 Degree straight collated nails. Includes carrying case and sample finish nails. 70-120 PSI operating pressure.
Freeman P4FRFNCB Framing/Finishing Combo Kit with Canvas Bag, 4-Piece
This Freeman 4 piece framing and finishing combo kit is a contractors dream. This kit covers all of your needs from framing to finishing. This kit can be used for roof decking, sub floors, basement remodelling, fencing, pallet building, to more finer finishing such as decorative trims, cabinet backing, picture frames, crafts and hobbies. Just choose the right gun for your task and away you go.
Battery Finish Nailer
DEWALT DC618K XRP 18-Volt Cordless 1-1/4 Inch – 2-1/2 Inch 16 Gauge 20 Degree Angled Finish Nailer Kit
The DC618K can fire nails through softwood, hardwood, and plywood and other sheet goods. It’s an ideal tool for trim carpenters, cabinetmakers, and others who routinely install baseboard, crown and chair rail moldings, paneling, hardwood flooring, staircases, and window and door casings and jambs. The tool’s narrow nose and angled magazine allows it to fit into tight spaces, such as under toe kicks and inside of cabinets. Choose between two operating modes: Sequential for precise one-at-a-time nailing, or high-speed Bump firing for rapid production work.
Other features include: precise depth-control mechanism, swing-open nosepiece for clearing jams, safety contact lock-off that disables the trigger, a no-mar tip, and a reversible belt hook. The DC618K Cordless Angled Finish Nailer combines the precision of hand nailing with the speed and ease of pneumatic nailing. With this one compact, portable tool, you can drive nails ranging in length from 1-1/4 to 2-1/2 inch as rapidly as five nails per second. The 8.5-lb. tool is powered by a rechargeable 18-volt battery and shoots readily available 16-gauge finish nails. Its 20-degree angled, rear-load magazine holds 110 nails, and is specially designed to seal out dust and debris that can cause the nailer to malfunction.
The 18-Volt 16-Gauge Angled Finish Nailer Kit comes with an 18-volt XRP NiCad battery, one-hour charger, reversible belt hook, safety glasses, and plastic storage case.
Paslode 902400 Cordless 16g Angled Lithium Ion Finish Nailer
The paslode 902400 drives 1-1/4 inch to 2-1/2 inch 16 gauge angled nails.comes complete with rugged carry case, one battery and charger and hex wrench. The new lithium ion battery allows for more power, faster recharge time and more shots per charge. The paslode has a swivel belt hook, adjustable depth of drive for precise control of nail depth, no mar tip to protect against trim surfaces and finishes and has an angled magazine for easier access in tight areas. It can shoot up to 6,000 nails per charge and 200 shots on a 2 minute quick charge. If you need precision in tight areas then this lightweight paslode is ideal.
PORTER-CABLE 20V MAX Cordless Lithium 16GA Straight Finish Nailer Kit is driven by 100% battery power, which eliminates need for a compressor, hose or costly gas cartridges. The motor design provides consistent firing power into various materials (baseboard, crown moldings, cabinet assembly). This Straight Finish Nailer has a fastener length capacity of 1″ to 2-1/2″ and a magazine capacity of 100 nails and can also produce up to 1000 nails per charge depending on battery. It also features multiple tool free settings that provide increased productivity and user safety and it has multi functional dual LED lights function for workspace illumination and error indication. The unit’s lightweight and optimal centre of gravity provide user comfort in multiple positions.
20V MAX 2.0 Ah Cordless Lithium-Ion 16 Gauge 2-1/2 in. 20 Degree Angled Finish Nailer Kit
With this offering by Dewalt it will allow you to fastern nails up to 2-1/2 inch. Into the material to provide a secure hold. The cordless and brushless technology provides durability and versatility for use. It can use 16 gauge 20 degree angled finish nails from 1-1/4 to 2-1/2 inch.it can fire up to 800 nails per charge depending on battery. It has sequential mode for precision placement and bump mode for production speed. A tool free depth adjuster for precise countersinking of nails and come with LED lights for workspace illumination.
Ideally you will want to have both tools handy for projects, especially if you are regularly working with wood. If you have to choose Brad nailer or Finish Nailer, remember a Finish Nailer will give better strenghth but will damage thinner, delicate trims where as the Brad Nailer will not give strength but will give a much better finished appearance on trims around the home.