For many woodworking and home renovation tasks, having a nail gun can make the jobs go by much quicker. No longer will you need to deal with hammers and thumb injuries; instead, pull the nail gun out, aim the nozzle, and pull the trigger. It’ll fire a nail deep into the material, fastening two objects together effortlessly.
A brad nailer is a type of finish nailer which fires brad nails which is usually between 18-gauge nails. This nail gun differs from a finish nailer which shoots thicker, sturdier 14- to 16-gauge nails. Smaller brads work as a temporary fastener for large boards prior to applying wood glue or an acrylic adhesive in woodworking and can even be used as a safe way to attach delicate trim like crown molding.
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Types of Brad Nailers
Brad nailers typically fall into three distinct categories based on their source of power. These are pneumatic, gas-powered, and electric.
Pneumatic Brad Nailer
This is arguably one of the most popular types of brad nailers. Pneumatic nailers are known for their ability to drive nails of any lengths deep into your workpiece. Using the right power setting on your air compressor, you can drive nails without any trouble with a pneumatic brad nailer. However, they tend to bit bulkier than their electric and gas-powered counterparts, and you need to invest in an air compressor in order to make use of a pneumatic brad nailer.
Gas-Powered Brad Nailer
Gas-powered brad nailers aren’t nearly as popular as pneumatic or electric brad nailers, mainly since it’s unsafe to use one indoors without proper ventilation, but they are a worthy candidate if you’re looking for something that won’t tie you down with cables. These are just about as powerful as their pneumatic counterparts, but the weight of the gas tank, fuel, and the tool itself can be quite overbearing.
Electric Brad Nailer
Electric tools are almost always weaker than their pneumatic and gas-powered counterparts, and it’s true in the case of brad nailers. However, weak doesn’t necessarily mean bad. If you work exclusive with soft woods, then an electric brad nailer will fire nails right through the piece without any issues.
What to Look for in an Electric Brad Nailer
Even though electric brad nailers aren’t nearly as powerful as air and gas models, this doesn’t mean they won’t come in handy around the home and workshop. For the remainder of this article, we’ll focus on electric brad nailers exclusively and what you need to be on the lookout for before purchasing one.
Corded-Electric or Cordless
The debate of whether corded-electric is superior to cordless or vice versa also exists in the brad nailer world. We don’t really have a horse in the debate since both of them have their own sets of pros and cons.
Corded brad nailers draw energy from a power outlet, giving it uninterrupted power for reduced downtime. You can extend your range of movement by running an extension cord from an outlet to wherever you need to work.
Cordless brad nailers offer maximum portability so you can work wherever, whenever, without the hassle of dealing with cords. Of course, the drawback is that you can only work for around 20 minutes or fire 100 nails before needing to recharge. Invest in additional batteries if you plan on getting a cordless brad nailer.
Since most brad nailers use 18-gauge nails, the only thing you need to know is how long a nail a brad nailer can fire. Most models can use between 5/8- to 2-inch nails, but others can support slightly longer nails. Just be sure that you know what sized boards you’re working to get an idea of the proper nail size.
The best brad nailers let you decide how far to shoot the brad nail into your work. This is especially handy when using brad nails of various lengths – you don’t want to shoot shorter nails too far into your piece, nor do you want to leave long nails hanging out of the end. The best brad nailers have a tool-less depth adjustment system that you can tweak on the fly.
Magazine Type and Nail Capacity
Nailers can come with either a strap-style magazine or a coil-style magazine. A strap-style is the cheaper of the two; it’s a dense, straight piece that can hold up to around 100 nails maximum. Since it doesn’t bend, it can get in the way and obscure your line of sight. A coil-style magazine is a flexible coil that typically holds more than 200 nails. Find a gun that uses your preferred magazine style.
Contact Tip vs. Sequential Tip
There are two types of gun tips to choose from – contact tip and sequential tip.
Contact tip is the more popular choice among contractors and pro woodworkers. This type of tip requires the tip to become depressed when pushed against an object while pulling the trigger. You can continue pulling the trigger and pushing the nozzle against different parts of your material to fire nails rapidly. While the nozzle of the gun isn’t depressed, the gun won’t shoot.
A sequential tip works similar to a contact tip, but you need to release the trigger after firing each nail to shoot the next. This is the slower type of tip, but it’s considerably safer. We highly recommend first-time brad nailer users to find a model with a sequential tip.
While we’re on the subject of the gun’s tip, it’s a good idea to find a brad nailer that has a soft, rubber tip. This will ensure that when pressing the tip against your work, it won’t leave a scratch in its wake. The worst case scenario would have to be wiping off any residual rubber that scraped off onto your material. No-mar rubber tips can be replaced if they become too worn out.
Brad nailers are one of the most vital tools for professional contractors and woodworkers. They reduce the amount of time spent on hammering, and they can be the safer option for you and your work pieces provided that you handle your brad nailer with care. Electric brad nailers, though not as powerful as pneumatic and gas-powered models, are still a viable choice for firing long 2-inch nails to connect boards and attach decorative trim. Finding an electric brad nailer shouldn’t be too difficult as long as you follow our guide on what to look for.
3 Recommended Brad Nailers
- Shoot 18-gauge brads ranging from 3/8 to 2 inches in length
- Operate at 60 to 115 PSI with the 1/4-inch NPT air inlet fitting
- Features a depth adjustment wheel, a nail gauge, a rotatable exhaust, and a quick release 106-nail capacity...
- Long life maintenance-free motor to keep from staining the work surface
- Tool-free depth-of-drive adjustment with detents for proper setting of nail heads
- Tool-free jam release mechanism for easy nail removal
- Powerful motor drives a range of 18 gauge brad nails from 5/8" to 2" into hard or soft wood applications
- Aluminum body, magazine and cylinder for strength and durability; weighs only 2. 9 lbs.
- Narrow nose design allows easy nailing access in confined areas