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What’s a Brad Nailer – Complete Guide on its Uses, Sizes and More

Wondering how to nail that small nail without getting hurt? Well, brad nailers are here to rescue. Brad nailers have become interchangeable and beyond for a handheld hammer. This 18- gauge machine works wonders when it comes to light, dainty woodwork, and pieces. Gauge refers to the thickness of nails. Based on what kind of material is being used, the types of nail and nailer vary for a better fit. Let’s get into what is a brad nailer used for and how it is used.

What Exactly is a Brad Nailer?

Brad nailer is a handheld power nail gun specially made to drive brad nails. Now, what are these brad nails? They are made from eighteen-gauge wire, known as brads. These are small, thin nails used for paper or light wooden works. Thanks to its head, it is embedded into the surface without protruding, hardly leaving a trace if removed. However, it has limited use as it cannot hold thick trims like plywood or construction. In addition, it is shorter in comparison to other nails like a common box, casing, or finishing nail.

Types of Brad Nailers

Brad nailers are of mainly two types: Pneumatic and Electric.

Most of the 18-gauge brad nailers are pneumatic and require air compressors and hoses. They use the power of compressed air to drill a brad nail into a wooden piece.


  • Compared to electric nailers, these are cost-effective.
  • They are effortless in terms of usage.


  • Hinders portability and the scope of the work area.
  • Air hose and compressor are its negative features.
  • Regular oiling is required.

Electric Brad Nailer use electricity to fasten nails. It comes in both corded and cordless varieties. Corded nailers come with a cord; hence they are a perfect match for smooth workflow and fewer interruptions to change the battery. Cordless nailers are compact, handy, and more user-friendly. Not only does it not require a compressor like pneumatic brad nailers, but it also is less noisy. Therefore, it is the best choice for homeowners when they need to make a few moderations here and there.

What is a Brad Nailer Used for?

Brad nailers have changed the whole ball game in the past; people frequently ram their forefingers with a nail trying to strive for aesthetically pleasing woodwork. These nailers come in handy if dainty light trims and pieces are put together. Brad nailer and finish nailer differ only in terms of the type of nails used. Finish nailer uses finish nails while brads are used in a brad nailer.

Brad Nailer Uses

  • Trim is more useful and apt for small trims than larger trims like baseboards. It is better to use a brad nail than a micro pin when more stronghold and strength are required.
  • Due to smaller heads, brad nails easily get concealed into wood trims. If finish nailers are used for trims, it may likely lead to wood splitting and imperfections, while using a brad nailer would be an easy task.
  • Baseboard: Although brad nails can be used for baseboards, finish nailers are preferred. Finish nailers are thick and have a stronger grip than a brad nailer; that is why it is ideal to use brad nailers for shoe moldings or in an area where chances of splitting are possible.
  • Hardwood Floor: You can use brad nails for hardwood flooring. This solely depends on the thickness of the hardwood. It can be used for a half-inch hardwood but might not go through thicker material. They can’t be used to install the complete flooring, and in such a case, a flooring nailer might be suitable. However, you can use it for toe-nailing hardwood near the walls.
  • Crown Molding: You can use an 18 gauge brad nailer for smaller and lightweight moldings. It is more suitable to use a brad nailer to round the corners. Using a bigger nail with more diameter may lead to splitting and cracking. This can be avoided with the usage of a brad nailer.

Brad Nail Sizes

Check out different sizes mentioned below and see what size nails are suitable for baseboard trim or crown molding or other projects.

  • 1 inch: These sizes of brad nails are apt for door trims or to hold down trims at junctions. For crown molding purposes, this size seems like a perfect fit.
  • 1 ¼ inch: While using for ¾ quarter round, this size is preferable. This size is also used for shoe molding and other laminate beading work.
  • 1 ¼ to 2 inches: When using quarter rounds, some people prefer brad nails over finished nails.
  • 1 ½ to 2 inch: For shiplap wood planks, this size can be used.

These brad nails can also be used with a staple gun. If you have the best staple gun that supports both staples and brads, you can use that instead of brad nailer for your DIY projects.

Brad Nailer vs Finish Nailer

The main difference between a brad nailer and a finish nailer is, brad nail gun uses 18g nails where as later uses 16 or 15-gauge nails. As mentioned above, brad nailer is used to attach thin trims and moldings without splitting, while finishing nailer is used for woodworking or carpentry jobs. The holding power of brad nailer is less than the finish nailer.

How to Use a Brad Nailer?

  1. There are ten components in a brad nailer. Grab the slide release
  2. Engage the magazine slide
  3. Load the brads in such a way that the pointy end faces downwards
  4. Different brands have different loading areas, so make sure that brad heads are in the right position.
  5. Lock the nail slide and secure it in place
  6. Fix the air hose to the air inlet
  7. Adjust the adjustable exhaust’s angle, so it stays away from your face.
  8. Secure the trim with a firm grip and point the inlet to the location where it is to be nailed
  9. Hold the gun against the wood and pull the trigger

Safety Precautions while using Brad Nailer

  • Wear adequate eye protection gear along with hearing protection.
  • It is suggested to wear sturdy and durable work suits if the machine tumbles, the suit could protect you from grave damages.
  • Keep your workwear and hair in check and away from the tool.
  • Ensure your hand stays at least twelve inches away from the barrel while shooting the gun
  • Always keep a check on safeties and not disengage them.
  • Keep your work area away from sudden invasive kids or pets.
  • Always keep a check on nailer components and cabling before proceeding.
  • Know your new tool and its working beyond the manual well in advance; this helps avoid any mishap.
  • While using an air-powered variant, ensure to place it on durable surfaces.


  • Following the don’ts ensures more safety while handling the tool.
  • Never keep your finger on the trigger while not in use.
  • Turn off the safety mode to work faster.
  • Keep your hands too close to the house
  • Try to use the tool with your non-dominant hand
  • Failing to prep and use safety gears

Features to Consider While Buying Brad Nail Gun

When buying a brad nailer, look out for these features before buying.

  • Tool-Free Jam Release: Jamming could happen due to various reasons like incorrect brad size, multiple trigger pull, inadequate pressure, and so on. All these reasons contribute to halting the workflow. This feature helps to clear a jam manually without any external tools support. One could dismantle the machinery, clear the jam, and put it back together.
  • Dry Lockout: While working on a piece, you might lose the count of nails and might end up shooting into the trim without a nail in it. This feature helps lock the trigger, making it unable to ruin the surface with a mark.
  • Exhaust Air Control: While drilling into the surface, there is a high chance that a load of sawdust and other byproducts can come into your face. Adjusting the exhaust to direct them away from your face is recommended; in this manner, you can be safer and unsoiled.
  • Driving depth: Based upon surfaces, each nailer works differently. Sometimes with a clean finish and sometimes with nails sticking out a little. To sort this out, thumbscrews are used to fix the drive depth. The user can adjust the depth according to their needs based upon the surface they are working on. However, pneumatic nailers might work indifferently due to the compression factor.
  • Control Over Nailing Modes: There are two modes- automatic and single shot. While handling denser large materials, use automatic mode and light trims, and materials could work just fine with single-shot mode. To be able to switch between modes enables greater command and precision.
  • Ease of Use: This goes completely without saying that a tool should be handy, practical, and hassle-free. When looking at a tool, it always comes down to the fine details.


For flawless carpentry work, the nails should neither be prominently visible nor should they hurt your finger. This machine strikes a balance between both and not being too heavy on the pocket. It is a great option while using light trims. Like many others in its league, this handy tool should be used with utmost caution and care. It should be kept away from curious toddlers and pet animals. They might be harmed if the safety features are disabled and in a vulnerable condition.