What Do You Use a Brad Nailer For?

What Do You Use a Brad Nailer For?

A brad nail gun is a specialized nailer that is designed for small or detailed wood applications such as trim, moldings, cabinetry, and a variety of home hobbies and projects. Brad nailers are designed to fire brads, which are basically a thin-gauged nail that is ideal for binding lightweight wood trim.

Difference Between Brad Nailers and Finish Nailers

While brad nailers and finish nailers are often confused with one another, there are some significant differences between the two.  From a visual perspective, brad nailers are usually smaller than finishing models. Also, in terms of performance, a brad nailer doesn’t have the same binding power as a finishing model because the brads that it fires don’t have the heads that finishing nails have.

Brads are perfect for mounting lightweight trim because they are thin gauged and since they don’t have a head, you won’t have to use wood putty to cover the nail hole. This is very beneficial for fine-detailed projects since wood putty often appears darker than natural wood once stain or finish is applied to the workpiece.

Another benefit of using brads in your detailed woodworking projects is that you reduce the risk of damaging thin pieces of trim. If you attempt to nail thin trim to a cabinet front or baseboard, there’s a chance that you’ll split the piece due to the finishing nail’s thicker gauge.

And if you’re still thinking about using finish nails to attach wood trim to wood because the larger head of the finish nail will have better holding power, you can relax. Thanks to the structure of wood, brads are perfectly capable of making very secure trim attachments to larger pieces of wood without this larger nail head.

18-Gauge Brad Nailer Uses

Since brad nailers use thin 18-gauge brads that come in lengths up to 2” long, they leave a smaller hole and are less likely to split thin workpieces. They provide a strong bond between wood objects while reducing the need to apply putty to an unsightly nail hole. Due to the thin size of the nails it drives, brad nail guns are perfect for attaching narrow, thin pieces of wood to larger wood objects.

This makes them ideal for a variety of home improvement or renovation applications. Some of the best applications for this model include attaching cove, stop, rail, and baseboard shoe molding, installing detailed trim on the face of a cabinet, building small wood furniture pieces, and even easy home projects such as making picture frames.

Brad Nail Sizes

The size of the brad nail that you can use depends on the capacity of your nailer. There are 18-gauge and 21-gauge brad nailers available. The most common tool for woodworking is the 18-gauge brad nailer because they provide a stronger bond on wood projects compared to what the thin, pin-sized 21-gauge brads are capable of. Since you’ll most likely be working with an 18-gauge tool for the majority of your projects, the next thing to consider is the length of your fastener.

Most brad nailers are compatible with a range of nail lengths, typically from 5/8” to 2” long. When selecting a brad nail, you want the length to be about three times the thickness of the material you’re nailing. This will ensure that your nail is long enough to go through the material and set securely into the object you are attaching it to.

Finish Nailer vs. Framing Nailer

While we discussed the differences between brad and finishing nailers, there is another model available that, like a  finishing gun, also uses sturdy clipped-head or round-headed nails. This model is the framing nail gun. While finishing and framing nailers operate in a similar manner, the type of tool you’ll need will depend on the project that you’ll be tackling. A framer is ideal for any large wood project such as framing walls, building a room, installing roofing, or building a deck or fence.

It’s the most heavy duty nailer on the market and is capable of driving nails up to 3 ½”. A finishing gun is better suited for lighter, finishing projects that involve aesthetics more than rugged construction. These models ideal for projects involving trim work, paneling, small crowns and moldings, trim work, cabinetry, and building furniture.  These models work with 14 or 16 gauge finishing nails that can range from 1” to 2 ½” in length.

Electric Brad Nailer

If you’ve come to realize what a useful tool a brad nailer is for home renovation and improvement projects but you’re hesitant to invest in a pneumatic model, or simple don’t want to be tied down to an air compressor, then an electric brad nailer is a terrific option. They’re available in corded or battery-operated cordless models, eliminating the need for an air compressor and hose. Plus, since it’s the easiest model to get started, all you’ll need is a few nail strips and you can start hammering trim in seconds.

An electric brad nailer is powered by an electrical cord or a rechargeable battery and is capable of quickly firing 18-gauge brads with precision. The method of operation is simple, the electric motor loads an air compression chamber and the nail is fired as the chamber’s air discharges. And while it might lack some of the driving power that a pneumatic model can provide, it’s more than capable of driving thin brad nails up to 2” long into thin wood trim consistently.

Best of all, since these battery-operated models are far more portable, they’re perfect for various home projects such as installing trim around interior doors and windows, baseboards, crown, shoe, and stop moldings, and even cabinet and furniture work.

About the Author

Bob Robinson has been a tool enthusiast and lawn care expert for the past 11 years. First working with John Deere to reduce their impact on the environment, whilst building his love for writing in his spare time. Now, Bob runs the editorial team at BestofMachinery and tends to his garden in his spare time.

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