For a lengthy woodworking project, hammering nails manually gets old real fast. That’s where nailers can become your best friend, letting you attach wood pieces together with speed, accuracy and consistency.
You can choose from a few different types of nailers to get the job done. With so many to choose from, it can get confusing to know which is the best one for you. In this article, let’s look at the best uses for brad, finish, pin, and framing nailers – the four most common types.
#1: Wainscoting and Baseboards
When you find yourself having to install or replace your trim, baseboards, or quarter rounds, an 18-gauge brad nailer will come in handy. Brads have large and flat heads, which means they can be easily removed once the glue holding two pieces together has set. The heads make them less visually appealing, but suitable for applications where they will be out of sight.
Consider the amount of power needed, nail size, and nose size when selecting the right brad nailer. The nose size is the area in which the nailer inserts the nails that it shoots out. A 15-gauge finish nailer can also get the job done for installing baseboards. With both 15- and 18-gauges, you can easily find nails up to 2.5’ inches long, which is an ideal length for baseboard nails.
#2: Crown Molding
Finish nailers should be your go-to gadgets for giving finishing touches to your woodworking projects, or for any work like crown molding that requires a cleaner and detailed look. A brad is around 1.25 millimeters wide, making it slightly larger than the lead for a mechanical pencil.
The thin nail used by a finish nailer is far less likely to split thin or delicate wood as compared to a larger framing nail, or wood screw. It typically holds the wood much better than an adhesive, making it ideal for moldings. For hardwood moldings, a 15-gauge finish nailer is best, but for pine or poplar, a 16-gauge nailer would be better.
You should use finish nailers for larger trim work such as baseboards, paneling, smaller crowns, and interior moldings. When working in old houses, hammering nails manually can lead to cracks, but a finish nailer will drive nails instantly without repeated blows. The 15-gauge nails are long enough to insert into the framing behind the plaster.
#3: Fixing Doorjambs or Stair Treads
A 15-gauge finish nailer is best for more demanding jobs like nailing doorjambs or stair treads. A finish nailer uses shorter, lighter gauge nails compared to most other nailers. Typically, this type of nail gun can accommodate 14 to 16 gauges, from 1- to 2-1/2-inch nails. Using a 16 or 18 gauge finish nail not only gets the job done, but the nail hole will also be tiny enough to be barely noticeable.
#4: Door and Window Casings
The best nailers for door or window casings are 15- or 16-gauge finish nailers. One of the advantages of using nailers is the ability to finish parts before assembly. For example, adding veneers to doors before final installation.
If you find yourself doing craft projects such as birdhouses on the regular, keeping an 18-gauge brad nailer around will be a smart move. Not only are brad nailers easy to use, but they are great for keeping thin nails in place while working on a project.
A brad nailer is critical for contractors working in construction or woodwork, as it can save so much time and effort. They work great for replacing the thin nails in a baseboard, crown molding, or window casings. Other tools may not be as suitable for such work as they don’t work well with a brad or thin nails.
#6: Making Furniture
A finishing nailer, as the name implies, is best used for adding finishing touches to furniture or cabinets, because it has a smaller imprint on the wood, and there is not much filling needed after nailing.
Since finish nailers can drive nails into hardwoods, softwoods, plywood, and other manufactured wood products, you can use them for the finishing of furniture, where appearance is paramount. They can also be used for attaching chair rails, making cabinets, or general light carpentry.
Paneling involves securing panels to the backing surface or wall, by nailing the panel corner caps. By using a brad nailer, you can avoid leaving large holes so not much filling is required. Brad nailers are lighter, smaller, and more maneuverable than finish nailers, and brads have smaller heads than nails.
So, they are suited for wall paneling and similar tasks where the surface requires no further finishing.
#8: Delicate Trim
You need to be extra careful when installing thin trims, as larger nails can cause splitting. Pin nailers work with 23 gauge headless nails, which give the nails a pin-like structure. Because pin nailers offer almost no holding power, they are often used just to hold a piece in place while the glue dries. They are used along with adhesives for accurate carpentering or fragile woodworking.
Pin nailers are best suited for very delicate trims, as well as furniture trim.
#9: Thin Veneers
Pin nailers are a must for ensuring that the pieces of veneer you have glued together stay in place when the glue is drying. Once the glue dries off, you can remove the nails and cover the holes with wood putty for a clean, immaculate look.
Pin nailers are the best choice for super-thin veneers that may split if larger nails are used.
#10: Building a Deck or Fence
For large construction projects, a framing nailer is the best option. This kind of nailer is the heaviest duty nailer and can generally accommodate nails up to 3-1/2 inches long to join 2 x 4s. Amongst the advantages of using a framing nailer are that the process is easier since you don’t have to pre-drill all the holes or use a hammer and the reduced chance of injury.
The nailer will drive the nails in all the way each time, avoiding wastage or bent nails. Overall, you’ll be able to save a lot of time during construction.
#11: Framing a House
A framing nailer, as its name suggests, gives you the nail size, strength, and holding power necessary for a permanent structure like a house.
#12: Constructing a Room
Framing nailers have enough power to join 2 x 4s, fences, or nailing plasters without cracking.
They work great for constructing rooms, or extensions. Nail lengths range from 1-1/4 inches to 3-1/2 inches. Keep in mind that when using a framing nailer, you will need to do a lot of filling as well. They are also less precise than other types of nailers.
#13: Picture Frames
Brad nailers can be used for making picture frames, as they don’t leave large holes. The holes can be easily filled with wax and sprayed over.
A pin nailer will also work, in case you need the adhesive holding the frame together to set and dry without using clamps.
While you can’t use a single type of nailer in every situation, there are some types of nailers that are highly versatile. If you only need a nailer for installing trim, baseboard, crown molding, making furniture, or crafts, choose an 18-gauge brad nailer or 16-gauge finishing nailer.
On the other hand, if you need to apply very delicate trims, or attach super thin veneers, a 23-gauge pin nailer is your best bet. It will not offer much holding power, but hold the pieces in place until the adhesive sets. Aim for a model that can shoot pins at least 1 inch long. Finally, a framing nailer is best for fencing, creating a deck, framing a house, or constructing a room. It uses large nails that can handle heavy-duty work.
If you plan to buy only one nailer, an 18-gauge brad nailer is the best choice. It’s ideal for standard trim, furniture making, and the occasional odd job. The best models can shoot brads up to 2 inches long.