What Do You Use a Brad Nailer For?
A brad nail gun is a specialized nailer designed for small or detailed wood applications such as trim, moldings, cabinetry, and other various home projects. Brad nailers fire brad nails. These are basically thin-gauged nails that are ideal for binding lightweight wood trim.
The 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 won’t have the same binding power as a finishing model. This is because brad nails don’t have the heads that finishing nails have.
Brads are perfect for mounting lightweight trim because of their thin gauge. Since they don’t feature a head, you won’t have to use wood putty to cover the nail hole. This is great for fine-detailed projects since wood putty often appears darker than natural wood once you apply a stain or finish to the workpiece.
Another benefit of using brads for detailed woodworking projects is that you reduce the risk of damaging thin pieces of trim. For example, if you attempt to nail thin trim to a cabinet front or baseboard, there’s a chance you’ll split the piece. This is due to the finishing nail’s thicker gauge.
But 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 wood’s structure, brads are perfectly capable of making very secure trim attachments to larger pieces of wood.
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, reducing the need to apply putty to an unsightly nail hole. Due to the thin size of the nails, 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. You can also install detailed trim on the face of a cabinet or build small wood furniture pieces. In addition, brad nailers are perfect for tackling easy home projects such as picture frames.
Brad Nail Sizes
The size of the brad nail you should 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. This size provides a stronger bond for wood projects than thin, pin-sized 21-gauge brads. Since you’ll most likely be working with an 18-gauge tool for most 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 ranging 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’re attaching it to.
Finish Nailer vs. Framing Nailer
While we discussed the differences between brad and finishing nailers, there’s another model available. This model, like a finishing gun, also uses sturdy clipped-headed or round-headed nails. This model is the framing nail gun.
While finishing and framing nailers operate similarly, the type of tool you need will depend on the project. Framers are ideal for large wood projects, such as framing walls, installing roofing, or building decks, fences, and rooms. It’s the most heavy-duty nailer on the market and can drive nails up to 3 ½”.
A finishing gun is better suited for lighter, finishing projects that involve aesthetics more than rugged construction. These models are ideal for projects involving trim work, paneling, small crowns and moldings, cabinetry, and building furniture. These models work with 14 or 16 gauge finishing nails ranging from 1” to 2 ½” in length.
Electric Brad Nailer
Brad nailers are useful tools for home renovation and improvement projects, but you might be hesitant to invest in a pneumatic model. Or maybe you simply don’t want to be tied down to an air compressor. In that case, an electric brad nailer is the best option. They’re available as corded or battery-operated cordless models, eliminating the need for an air compressor and hose. 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.
Electric brad nailers are powered by an electrical cord or a rechargeable battery. They are 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 pneumatic models 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.