Finish Nailers Vs. Brad Nailers

Written by catalina bixler
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Finish Nailers Vs. Brad Nailers
Carpenters' use of brad and finishing nailers depends on the job. (Image by, courtesy of Bart Everson)

Woodworking professionals, hobbyists and home-improvement teams using automatic nail hammers may choose between brad and finishing nail guns. People owning these two tools often employ them interchangeably for completing similar carpentry jobs. Woodworking and carpenter tool outfitters firmly advertise the two nailers, which are not the same thing. When applied to woodworking or carpentry tasks for their intended purposes, both perform well. The brad and finishing nailer come in models with or without air compressor power. When choosing any type of nailer, the product should be ergonomic and feel good in your hand.

Gauges and Nails

Finish nailers are either 15 or 16 gauge. Commonly, a brad nailer is 18 gauge. The gauge refers to the machine and not the nail. Usually constructed of thinner wire than finishing nails, the brads easily bend but usually follow the wood grain better than finishing nails. The brad nail also deflects off hardwood knots better. Too big for craft projects or assembling small furniture, the larger finish nail cannot secure wood strips for a jig (saw) guide--which helps control location or motion of the tool--without destroying it.

Driving Range Comparison

Brad nail guns generally drive nails between five-eights to two and one quarter inches into the wood with other less popular models operating at three fourths to two inch deep. Finishing nailers fastener depth is one and one quarter to two and one half inches.

Uses of the Brad

The brad nailer delivers a less-visible nail head, designed for precision woodworking. Brad nailers provide for accurate work with wood trim, furniture or baseboards construction. Some carpenters use the brad nailer to hold woodwork pieces while wood glue dries. Crafting enthusiasts use the brad nailer for constructing wood creations.

Finishing Nailer Uses

Professional construction framers use the finish nailer for light projects including door trims, windows, crown moulding and thicker stock woodworking. Wood and carpentry projects fitting somewhere between a framing and brad nailer get the best results with a finish nailer.


Fifty per cent less expensive than the finish nailer, the brad is a better investment for any carpentry or wood project not requiring a finish nail gun. Depending on the preferred model, both these tools come in different price ranges.

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