Fasten-ating Facts: DA and FN Finish Nails Explained

You’re ready to install wood trim and have decided on an angled finish nailer. When you order the fasteners, however, you find two types of 15-gauge nails. One says “FN” on the product, and the other “DA.” What’s the difference?

The Dealt DWFP72155 uses DA stle finish nails

Angled finishing nailers are designed to take either FN style or DA style angled finish nails. Both are made with 15-gauge wire and feature a chisel point, ideal for finishing applications. Yet they have a different collation angle and head shape from one another. While the differences may seems slight, they’re enough to halt your finish nailer—and whatever job you’re working on.

SureFit is one of many brands who make DA finish nails

DA Finish Nails

The DA type of nail has a 33- or 34-degree angle. It was created by Senco Brands, and not surprisingly, their 15-gauge finish nailers are all designed to use this style of nail. In fact, it’s also compatible with many other brands, including Metabo HPT, Dewalt, and MAX.

While many online assertions state that the “D” in the DA stands for the nail’s slight D-shaped head, it actually refers to Senco's proprietary nail coding system. A representative for Senco explains that, “The D indicates the fastener is a 15-gauge nail, and the A indicates it has a brad head/smooth shank.”

The main difference between the DA and FN style of nails, Senco states, is the shape of the nail heads. “The DA style nails have a round head and the FN style have a rectangle head,” says the rep. But Bostitch has a different take on the matter.

FN finish nails from SureFit

FN Finish Nails

As you may have heard, FN style nails were originally created by Bostitch to work with their own finishing nail guns. The label “FN” simply stands for “finish nail,” the company explains. Taking a different angle so to speak, Bostitch says the main difference between an FN and DA nail is in the nails' collation angles.

“DA finish nails have an angle of around 34 degrees. FN finish nails have an angle of around 25 degrees,” says a rep from the company. It’s worth noting that Bostitch carries both DA and FN style nails.

While these two manufacturers may disagree on the main difference between FN and DA style nails, both companies recognize that the nails won’t run if switched out; they’re not interchangeable. So, which type of 15-degree finish nail - and its respective nailer - should you choose?

A MAX finish nailer that uses 34-degree finish nails

What’s Your Style?

Both DA and FN style finishing nails feature a smooth shank, so there's no real difference in that regard. (Read Understanding Nail Shank Types to learn more on the subject).

While the divide isn't necessarily measurable, many professional contractors believe DA finish nails are more readily available. Interestingly enough, fans of FN nailers find the exact opposite to be true. Truth be told, in the age of Internet, availability is no longer a concern on either account.

As far as holding power, though, pros find no difference between the two. The angle of nail (and nail gun) you choose is really up to your finish and trim needs. A steeper magazine angle is better for accessing tight corners. If that’s what you’re looking for, the 34-degree DA nail and nailer is ideal. On the other hand, if you want fewer re-loads, you’ll want to consider the 25-degree FN style.


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