Woodworking Tool Reviews

The Difference Between a Brad Nailer and a Finish Nailer

The Difference between a Brad Nailer and a Finish Nailer

Tool technology has come a long way, and your ability to drive nails is no longer limited by how well you can swing a hammer. Pneumatic nailers employ compressed air to fire nails more rapidly than we ever could on our own which provides us with options to choose from when it comes to our construction projects regarding which variant of nailer we would like to use.

Brad nailers and finish nailers are often confused; however, there is a difference between the two, and each has specific benefits to offer the user. As with any tool, you want to be well informed to ensure that the best tool was used and ultimately the highest quality was achieved.

To understand how the two are different from each other, we should first observe the difference in what they fire:

Brads vs. Nails – What are they?

Brads are significantly smaller than nails, which is why brad nailers are used for different jobs than finish nailers. Brads are 18-gauge whereas nails are typically 15-16-gauge. The gauge of a nail correlates to a measure of its diameter. The larger the gauge size, the smaller the nail will be. The general rule when debating between using brads and nails boils down to two facts:

  • What material is being nailed
  • What kind of holding power is required?

Brad Nailer Uses

Due to the higher gauge of brads, they are perfect for attaching smaller pieces of wood such as paneling, trim, or even connecting the backing to cupboards. Brads also have smaller heads which make for cleaner finished products, whereas finish nails need to have their exposed heads concealed with wood putty.

Additionally, when working with these more delicate pieces of wood, large nails run the risk of completely splitting or cracking the wood. Thanks to the higher gauge of a brad, you can rest assured knowing that your project is safe.

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Finish Nailers

 While brad nailers can be used for fragile materials, finish nailers make up for their lack of delicacy with their robust versatility. Using the larger 15-16-gauge nails, finish nailers are perfect for more heavy-duty projects. Crown molding and baseboards are easily attached by finish nailers and the larger heads on the nails ensure that the nail will hold.

The length of these larger nails contributes to the types of jobs they can accomplish. It isn’t uncommon to use a nailer to attach wood to drywall, and in such cases, the finish nailer outperforms the brad nailer substantially. While the brad nailer offers an excellent clean puncture, it doesn’t provide much in the way of holding power. Because drywall isn’t as well structured as wood, a finish nailer will ensure that the nail drives deep into the drywall to anchor the two items together while resisting extraction.

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Putting Quality First

Brad nailers and finish nailers are both useful and essential items in any craftsman’s tool collection. Despite their similarities, they each serve different functions, so maintaining an appropriate knowledge of what they have to offer is vital to ensuring that your construction projects are done with the utmost structural integrity. Don’t take any chances and invest in the best when it comes to nailer equipment.