Whether you’re a professional woodworker, home renovator, or self-proclaimed DIY-er, having some type of nail gun in your tool collection is a must. Pin nailers, brad nailers, and finish nailers are all excellent tools for completing finishing and remodeling projects, but should be used for their specified applications. If you’re lost on which tool you need for the job, we’ve got you covered.

Pin Nailers

Pin nailers shoot very tiny, typically 23 gauge, headless nails (pins) into wood. Since the pins are so small, they don’t have much holding power to support larger materials. These are best used for small applications, like holding a piece in place to check sizing or alignment while wood glue is drying for instance. The pins used in pin nailers are typically only used for delicate trim and softer woods due to their smaller size. Certain models, such as the Milwaukee M12 23 Gauge Pin Nailer (2540) however, are powerful enough to drive into hard woods as well.

Even though pin nailers typically aren’t used to place permanent fasteners, they are great to have around for positioning trim and decorative pieces, adjusting the layout of a project, or for reinforcing a piece that has been secured with wood glue. The pins leave extremely small holes so that they don’t need to be filled in after, saving you a ton of time on projects. The smaller size of these pins also prevents the wood from splitting so you don’t risk damaging your workpiece.

Brad Nailers

Brad nails are slightly larger than pin nails, usually made from 18-gauge steel wire. These are more versatile than pin nails because they’re sturdier and have more holding power. Similar to pin nails, these also have a flat nail head that lays flush to your workpiece and leaves a relatively small hole. Brad nailers are typically used to nail baseboards, finish carpentry, and install cove or crown molding because they have long staying power while still leaving a discreet and clean finish. They do leave slightly more visible nail holes, but these can easily be covered up with a little putty.

Brad nails are a solid middle ground between pin nails and finish nails, making them more versatile for a range of applications. You may find them useful for crown molding work, building cabinets, furniture building and more. Alternatively, brad nails should not be used on delicate trim, because there is a chance the larger nail could split the wood.

Finish Nailers

Finish nailers insert the thickest nails of the three, roughly 15-16 gauge, so they provide a stronger hold than brad nailers. These are best suited for denser woods and more heavy-duty finishing projects. There are two types of finish nailers you can choose from–angled or straight finish nailers. Angled finish nailers make it easy to access smaller spaces like corners when fixing crown molding or trim, and they typically hold 15-gauge nails, making them great for sturdier applications. Straight finish nailers work well for general home repairs, larger spaces, or nailing into thin boards. Since they generally use thinner 16-gauge nails, they are suitable for lighter repair and remodeling jobs, but you do lose the versatility and access to smaller spaces and corners like you get with an angled finish nailer. Also, 15-16 gauge nails are significantly different than 23 or 18 gauge pins, so you may need to do move cover-up work in the end compared to the others.

When it comes to choosing between pin, brad, and finish nailers, it ultimately depends on your projects and the type of wood you’re using. In general, you’ll want to go with finish nailers for thicker wood and projects that need a strong, long-lasting hold. Brad nailers are a good middle-ground and can be used for a lot of different tasks if you do a variety of different kinds of woodworking. They can be used on softer wood, but be mindful that their size might damage a more fragile piece. Pin nailers, on the other hand, are meant for delicate applications, temporary fastening, and testing placement for pieces. These make great placeholders for more sturdy fasteners or as support for pieces that are already wood glued together.

Delicate TrimVeneersBaseboardsCrown MoldingFurniture ConstructionPaneling
Pin Nailer ✓ (temporary)
Brad Nailer
Finish Nailer

If you have any questions about pin, brad, and finish nailers, or any other cordless nailer options we have available, give us a call at 800-242-4424, email us at sales@ohiopowertool.com, or leave a comment below for assistance. We’re always happy to help! To be the first to know about new products and deals, subscribe to our e-newsletter and follow us on social media!