What Is a Brad Nailer Good for ( a Clear Guide)

You have undoubtedly heard of nail guns, but if you start looking for them, you will notice that there are an incredible number of different types. Most commonly used by DIYers and woodworkers is the brad nailer, but what is a brad nailer good for?

A brad nailer uses thinner nails and is specially designed for finer woodwork. A brad nailer is good for joining lightweight wood such as installing moldings, assembling cabinets, and a host of other fine woodworking tasks because it leaves almost no nail holes.

Ok, a brad nailer can do great things, but do I need a brad nailer, you will ask yourself. Well, in this article, you will find out exactly what a brad nailer is, and you will get clarity in the difference between brad nailer and finish nailers. After reading all the information, you know perfectly which type of nail gun you should purchase for your workshop.

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What is a brad nailer

You must first understand what we’re talking about before you can answer the question “what is a brad nailer used for?”

So, exactly what is a brad nail gun?

A brad nail gun is a type of nail gun that fires small-headed brad nails. This can happen in two different ways. The most common way the brad nailer will fire the brad is by means of air pressure. Another type of brad nailers are battery powered brad nailers.

An air compressor will compress and store air in a vessel. Thanks to the hose that connects the compressor to the brad nailer, the air pressure can be used to fire a nail when the lever of the brad nailer is pressed.

The disadvantage of this is that you have to buy a compressor, and you are actually a little bit limited in freedom of movement.

A second way to fire nails is by means of a battery-powered nail gun. The advantage of this is that you do not have to struggle with a compressor or casing and that you can take the brad nailer with you wherever you go.

What are brad nails used for

Now you know exactly what a brad nailer is we can go over to answer the question what is a brad nailer used for.

The brads that are used in brad nailers are thin, small-headed nails. That means that a brad nailer and brad nails are great for joining lightweight woodwork like trim, moldings, cabinetry, and a variety of home hobbies and projects.

Most of the time, I use brad nails to temporarily hold two glued-together wooden parts. Because of the brad, I no longer have to wait until the wood glue is completely dry, which saves me a lot of time.

If you’ve seen any of my YouTube videos, you’ve noticed I use this technique a lot.

Brad nailers are offered by different brands in different models.

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Brad nailer vs finish nailer

While brad nailers and finish nailers are frequently used interchangeably, there is a significant difference between brad nailer and finish nailers. Finishing nailers are typically larger in size than brad nailers.

Furthermore, a brad nailer lacks the binding power of a finishing model. This is because brad nails lack the heads that finishing nails have.

Brads are ideal for attaching lightweight trim due to their thin gauge. Because they don’t have a head, you won’t need to use wood putty to cover the nail hole.

Because wood putty often appears darker than natural wood once a stain or finish is applied to the workpiece, it is ideal for fine-detail projects.

In this section, I’ll go over the difference between brad nailer and finish nailers in greater detail.

That way, you’ll know exactly what and how these tools can be used for, and you’ll be able to decide which one is best for your workshop, a brad nailer vs finish nailer.

Makita AF505 2" Brad Nailer, 18 Ga.

Brad nailer – Makita

Metabo HPT Finish Nailer | 16 Gauge Finish Nails -

Finish nailer – Metabo

What is a brad nail

Brad nails, also known as brads, are made of 18-gauge steel wire. The thickness of a nail is indicated by its size. The gauge number of thinner nails is higher.

Because of their small diameter, brad nails are easy to conceal in wood trim or paneling.

They are not only thinner than regular nails, but they also have a smaller head. I’ll go into more detail later.

The thin profile of brad nails aids in the prevention of splitting on delicate materials. Their understated appearance frequently provides a clean finish in a variety of woodworking projects.

Because brad nails are thin, they work best with thinner wood, such as fiberboard and plywood.

Because brads have a small diameter, your molding and trim work will have fewer holes and may not require wood filler before painting.

What is a finish nail

Finish nails are typically made of 15- or 16-gauge steel wire, giving them a slightly larger diameter than brad nails.

Because of their increased thickness, finishing nails have a stronger hold than brads.

As a result, they are suitable for heavier applications that necessitate thicker material, such as cabinets or skirting boards.

The larger diameter of the finish nails leaves a larger hole after attaching a piece of wood.

As a result, you should conceal the blemishes and clean up your work with a filler.

Because finish nails are thicker than brad nails, they are more likely to split thin or delicate pieces of wood.

Nail gauge explained

When compared to the actual ratings, the gauge simply communicates the fastener thickness as a whole number. This is because the number 16 is greater than the number 18.

Placing two gauges side by side approximates the number of nails in one inch. As a result, 18 gauge nails that fit into a one-inch hole are thinner than 16 gauge nails that fit into a one-inch hole.

As a result, a lower gauge number usually means a thicker nail.

Nail gun typeGaugeUsages
Roofing nailer10 ,11 ,and 12 gaugeFor nailing roof shingles
Flooring nailer15, 16, 18, and 20 gaugeFor installing hardwood floors
Finish nailer14, 15, and 16 gaugeCrown molding, baseboards
Brad nailer18 gaugeNailing baseboards, cabinet making
Staple nailer18 gaugeFastening fabrics to wood
Pin nailer21 and 23 gaugeMaking furniture or installing thin veneers
What is a brad nailer good forbrad nail gauge chart

18ga vs 16ga nailer

18-Gauge brad Nailers

The 18-gauge brad nail is 0.0475 inch thick and typically comes in 212-inch lengths. As a result, brads are frequently used for trim work, skirting, paneling, and veneer.
If you’re doing more intricate finishing work, the 18-gauge brad nail gun comes in handy.

Another advantage of the brad nail is that it has a smaller head and thus leaves a less visible nail hole than a 16-gauge nail. When using an 18-gauge pin, the amount of filling and sanding required is much less, and sometimes not even necessary.

This nailer has some limitations. To begin with, it uses less power in order to avoid splitting or damage to the work. This prevents it from penetrating thick pieces of wood or MDF. Furthermore, the thinner shank lacks the holding power of a 16-gauge nail.

16-Gauge Finish Nailers

The 16-gauge nail has a 0.0625-inch-thick shank and is typically available in lengths ranging from 1 to 312 inches. These nails are more durable than 18-gauge brads because they are thicker.

Because of their thickness, nails are frequently used to fasten thicker, denser pieces of wood. That is why woodworkers and hobbyists prefer to buy this type for their workshop.

16-gauge nails are commonly used in the construction or installation of cornices, floors, cabinets, and other similar items.
The 16-gauge nail is a versatile nail that can be used in a variety of woodworking applications.

There are, unfortunately, drawbacks to this versatility in addition to its benefits. On more delicate work, a finish nail that provides the aggressive bite you want on larger projects becomes a hazard.

The nail is strong enough to split small moldings. Furthermore, the significant force required to cut through thicker, denser wood or medium density fiberboard (MDF) contributes to the tendency to split thinner wood.

Finally, because the head is larger than the head of an 18-gauge brad, it usually leaves a larger hole that must be filled and sanded.

Do I need a brad nailer

Now you know what is a brad nailer used for you will ask yourself, do i need a brad nailer for my workshop?
As an enthusiastic and frequent user, I can answer the question “do i need a brad nailer” with a resounding yes because the costs are low and the time saved is high.

You can purchase a bradnailer for a fairly low price if you already have a compressor in your workshop. Keep in mind that the purchase of a bradnailer that is powered by a battery is slightly more expensive.

Thanks to this low purchase price, you are now able to quickly attach plates together without any effort. As you could have read, I mostly use my nail gun to hold freshly glued parts in place thanks to a brad. That means I can immediately continue working without having to wait for the glue to dry. Buying a brad nailer has been one of my most valuable purchases ever, so don’t hesitate, you won’t regret it. Below you can find three brad nailers i can recommend you. If you want more details and reviews of these nailers with their pros and cons, I suggest you should check out my article The Very Best Brad Nailers for Your Workshop (10 Options)

What is a brad nailer used for – conclusion

As you have learned in this article, a brad Nailer is designed specifically for finer woodwork. By using thinner nails, called brads, this type of nailer can join lightweight wood.

Thanks to the explanation of the difference between brad nailer and finish nailers you now know that these small 18 gauge nails are quick and easy to install, leaving only a small hole in the wood, which can be quickly filled with wood filler.

A brad nailer is a must to have in your workshop. Honestly, I would never want to miss mine again. The convenience and time savings I get from this tool is worth a hundred times its investment.

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