Crown Stapler vs. Brad Nailer: Which one to Choose?
Like any gun used in woodworking and home renovation projects, crown staplers and brad nailers have their own sets of pros and cons. At first glance, they both look extremely similar, but they’re each designed to do their own thing. Granted, there are a few things that a crown stapler can do that a brad nailer does and vice versa, but the amount of effort put into using each tool while performing the same task varies. Let’s find out which of the two is the right tool for you.
What is a Crown Stapler?
You’d think that a crown stapler is used exclusively to fasten crown molding, but the name of the tool is quite misleading. The “crown” that the tool’s name is referring to is the type of staple that the gun fires. Crown staples come in several sizes, but their shape and design is consistent. The upper part of the staple known as the “crown” is narrow and has two long legs of varying lengths sprouting downwards from each end of the crown. Like a U-shape, if you will.
Crown Staple Holding Power
When comparing similarly sized crown staples to nails, crown staples provide significantly more holding power. However, there are a few drawbacks of using staples; for instance, the size of the staple is quite large compared to brad nails and will leave a sizable hole in their wake. The holes aren’t too big of a deal if the surface is hidden from sight, but if not, then be ready to smear a thin layer of wood putty to hide the unsightly crowns.
Crown Stapler Uses
Because this tool fires staples and not nails, the applications of where a crown stapler can be used are almost limitless. One area where crown staplers excel are in upholstery work. The staples keep the fabric tight against the cushions and frame, giving your sofa, chair, and couch cushions a beautiful finish. Have you ever lifted upholstery fabric and found staples digging deep into the wooden frame? That’s the work of a crown stapler.
Keep in mind that crown staplers are power tools so they can handle much more demanding tasks than just tightening upholstery cloth. When trimming windows, doors, and fastening decorative trim to furniture, a crown stapler could be the optimal tool of choice.
When NOT to use a Crown Stapler
Oftentimes, we get so focused on what sort of applications certain power tools are used in that we forget no matter how similar they are, there are situations where one tool will not be of any use.
A crown stapler is not to be used in place of a finish nailer. The legs of a crown stapler, though long, do not offer the same type of holding power, and the piece you worked so hard to create and assemble will fall apart if you rely on staples.
Furthermore, crown staplers shouldn’t be used on pieces where you wish to hide the fasteners. This means on the external surfaces of furniture, or anywhere that is visible to the naked eye. You should also be aware that wood putty will do very little if not nothing in concealing staples.
What is a Brad Nailer?
Compared to crown staplers, brad nailers are far more delicate and are better designed for fastening thinner trim. Brad nailers use a special kind of nail known as brad nails or simply as brads. They are thin, short, and have a rather tiny head. Brad nails usually use 16- to 18-gauge wire with the latter being the more popular choice.
Brad Nail Holding Power
It sounds like brads are the perfect option for connecting boards, but their best feature (thin diameter) is also a drawback. Because brads are so thin, they don’t have a ton of holding power. They’re not meant to hold large, thick boards together since each brad can only carry so much weight. In fact, of all the types of nails, brads are among the weakest. Furthermore, driving brads into dense wood like oak or plywood will result in bent brads. If the brad doesn’t fully pierce the surface of the board, don’t even think of driving it all the way through with a hammer. You’ll just end up with a marred surface and a totally useless brad.
Brad Nailer Uses
Unlike crown staples, the heads of brad nails are almost invisible, even from a short distance. Because brads are so thin and have tiny heads, firing a brad nail into your workpiece will not leave an unsightly hole. Generally, brads are used in situations where you would rather avoid using wood putty, such as fastening molding or trim, doing cabinetry work, and an infinite number of other fastening projects.
When NOT to use a Brad Nailer
Like crown staples, brad nails don’t offer the type of support for keeping large boards together. They can hold them together temporarily while you wait for the wood glue to set, but as a permanent fastener, you should stick to finish nails.
Another area where brad nailers won’t serve you any good is fastening roof tiles. They can pierce the roof tile and connect it to the wooden beam underneath, but the design of brad nails won’t keep them in place during storms or high winds. Your best bet is to use staples for roofing jobs.
Crown Stapler vs. Brad Nailer – Which to Get?
Since crown staplers and brad nailers are used for different applications, getting both would be ideal. However, if you had to choose between the two, your decision should rely on what you plan on doing.
For general woodworking projects, brads will be of more use as either a temporary fastener for a permanent fastener for delicate trim. Crown staples are used for more specialized applications like for fastening upholstery fabric and attaching roof tiles.
They both make nailing, and stapling jobs go by quickly, and they’re both a joy to use. Just be sure that you exercise caution when pulling the trigger!
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