Today we will talk to you a little bit about nailers. Brad nailers, pin nailers, all sorts of nailers, battery-operated, pneumatic. Let’s get started. Okay so before we jump into the blog full speed we wanted to talk about what these guns are used for ours lives.  

Pin nailers, brad nailers, and finish nailers are typically used for trim work such as paneling, narrow trim on decorative pieces, window casings, closet moldings, quarter round pieces, or thin wood pieces that would go on a wall for decorative purposes. It’s not normally used for structural or wood joinery. It lacks the strength for something like that. 

Finish nailers can be really great to have in the shop or home but there’s a lot of options.

So if you are a brand new woodworker you need to figure out what is right for you. You need to make sure you have the proper safety gear for anything that you are going to be doing with tools. You need goggles, you need hearing protection, and sometimes even a mask for safety.

There are two major different types of nailers. You have a pneumatic nailer which means that you need a compressor to run it. You will need a hose to get to the nailer and that’s what will give you the force, energy, and power to shoot the nail.

Then there are battery nailers. Let’s say you have two battery nailers. A brad nailer like which is an 18 gauge nailer and a pin nailer. Let’s get more into the differences between those right now. 

So a pneumatic nailer tends to be a little bit cheaper assuming you already have a compressor. If you have to buy the compressor and the nailer then you’re getting a little higher in price. 

Now for us, the battery-operated nailer just worked better. It will provide the versatility you needed. Besides if you don’t want to have a hose behind yourself. So battery operated is the route that you can choose. If you already have a compressor then a pneumatic might be the way to go as it will be a money saver.

Now let’s talk about the different kinds of fillers. You have different gauges of nails which is basically the size of the nail that you will be shooting into your workpiece. There is a 16 gauge, there is an 18 gauge, there is a 23 gauge. The 18 gauge and the 23 gauge are both smaller nails the higher the number. So 23 gauge means that it is a smaller nail. 

Let’s take a look at the difference between our pin nailers and brad nailers. It is a good topic to discuss. 

There are some differences and there are some pros and there are actually some cons to having one over the other and we want to take it a step further and go with the pros and cons. Remember when we talk about gauge the bigger the number the smaller the diameter. 

So a 23 gauge pin nailer is going to be a very small diameter nail where a 15 gauge nail a finish nail is going to be a much larger diameter nail. So you always have to kind of go opposite. 

We talked about gauge the bigger the number the smaller the diameter. So a 23 gauge pin nailer is going to be a very small diameter nail where a 15 gauge and 18 gauge nail. It’s going to be much smaller in diameter. It’s going to have a much smaller head now which does mean it has less holding power. 

But because it is so much smaller in diameter it means it’s way less destructive and we can use this for more fine detail stuff like decorative moldings or trims. It’s also going to be better for when we want to go into a thin stock like say a quarter inch or so and we don’t want to split the grain. 

A brad nailer brad nailing is going to be a much smaller diameter hole. It’s going to be really good for those fine detail works like decorative moldings and it’s going to not have the holding power of course.
So this is normally used for trim work inside a home like molding or behind shelving or if you just need a little more strength or the glue is going to take a little longer to dry in an upright position. You can definitely go with a brad nail for your DIY woodworking business and for the things that you are doing in your home. This substantial 18 gauge brad nail is something that you can use far more than your pin nailer. 

However, the pin nailer has been perfect for trim work on the outside of like console tables or like decorative things like your snowflake build or your little note board letterboard builds or things like that decorative pieces where you want the glue to dry but you don’t necessarily want to see the nail. And it’s a really easy nail hole to fill if you even need to sometimes the paint will fill right in there you don’t even notice it.

So brad nail for home DIY projects for sure and building furniture and pin nail for sign work or decorative pieces that you are going for hopefully this hap helps answer some of the questions.

The only significant difference between a brad nailer and a finish nailer is the gauge of the nail you were driving. The gauge of nails is absolutely different but will have a major impact on your project if using the wrong gauge nail. Of course, depending on the tool you choose, features may vary as well.

Brad Nailers vs Pin Nailers Comparison 

Brad nailers generally use a little bit larger nails like an 18 gauge nail. You can clearly recognize them as they have different heads on them. They ensure more holding power, a better choice for a variety of deep wood pieces. They are not suitable for very thin wood projects. They can hold fast trim for good. 

The 18 gauge Brad nailers or nail guns can shoot a fastener up to two inches long. It is great for smaller trim applications and it’s a great all-around nailer in the woodworking shop. From assembling cabinets, putting trim work on cabinets, adding face frames, and then also jig work. 

If you are making some quick jigs the 18-grade brad nailer is an excellent solution for those tasks. An 18 gauge brad nailer is very versatile in size and also its holding capacity.

Pin nailers are perfect for a variety of delicate wood projects. Their main weapon is a smaller 23 gauge​ nail. They can hold for the time being. No nail hole can be visible when this type of nail gun use. If your projects are based on thick wood pieces then they are not suitable. Their main area of capacity is in very thin wood projects. 

If you are a fresh beginner just keep in mind usually brad nailer leaves marks because they use larger 18 gauge nails. Those marks need to be filled up with putty. 

On the contrary, pin nailers don’t have such issues at all as they use 23 gauge which is smaller. In fact, they don’t leave any marks on the wood.  So, no need to go back and face fill-up issues. 

A 23 gauge pin nailer typically can shoot up to a one-inch fastener. They are a very small fastener which means they are going to leave a very small hole or no hole at all. Its perfect application is delicate trim work, face frames on cabinets any application where you need to tack your part in place and wait till the glue dries. 

These smaller nails are not going to give you a lot of shear strength or pull-away strength. You are just tacking your part in place applying a little bit of pressure with the pin nail until that glue can hear and permanently hold the two pieces together. 

Interesting fact that not many people know… 20 Volt (Max) tools are actually 18 Volt tools!… Any Lithium Ion 18 Volt battery pack is actually 20 Volt when fully charged… The moment you start using the tool, the voltage drops very rapidly to 18 Volt, where it remains for a very long time. You will even notice that 20 Volt tools are called “20 VOLT MAX” by the manufacturers!

One important thing for beginners – never put 16ga nails in an 18ga nail gun, or you will ruin your nail gun.


Jason has been a Tool enthusiast for some years and has written some articles on Power Tool and Hand Tools.

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