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How To Choose A Nail Gun For Your Project

Nail guns are a great addition to a tool arsenal; they speed up a job, drive nails into hard-to-reach areas, and drive smaller nails without bending or breaking them. How do you choose a nail gun for your project? To help you decide, we look at the main nail guns homeowners use:

Framing Nailer

A framing nailer is used for larger projects such as fencing, deck building, roof sheathing, sub-flooring, and (of course) framing. Framing nail guns drive some of the larger gauge nails, from about .113" to .131" in diameter with lengths from 1-1/4" long to 3-1/2". Framing nail guns are also excellent for projects involving plaster, as hand hammering can crack and loosen plaster.

An example of a framing nailer, the Paslode Power Master Plus Pneumatic Nailer

Finish Nailer

A finish nailer is a versatile tool, and drives either 15- or 16-gauge nails. They are used for smaller projects than framing nails, such as crown molding, baseboards, cabinets, chair rails, decorative trim, millwork, and hardwood flooring. Finish nails are sturdy enough to hold these larger pieces, but small enough that they can be puttied over for the finished product.

FinishPro42XP

Brad Nailer

A brad nailer drives even smaller, 18-gauge brad nails,. Brad nailers are used for smaller trim, for which larger nails might split the wood. Using a hammer to drive brad nails can be frustrating due to their ultra-thin pins that can bend easily. This is why a nail gun is favorable when working on an ongoing project.

Hitachi NT50AE2

 

Gas-powered Nail Guns

Gas-powered nail guns use a fuel cell with a rechargeable battery. This type of nailer does not require an air compressor, hose or cord, which offers some convenience. It's considered a more costly way to power a nail gun, as opposed to a pneumatic tool.

Air-Powered or Pneumatic Nailers

This is the most popular choice for power fastening tools, as it is an affordable, powerful and convenient way to power your nail gun. This type of nailer uses compressed air to drive nails. If you choose a pneumatic tool, make sure that the air requirement for the nail gun and the compressor match - ensuring your nail gun will work properly.

Bostitch Pneumatic Finish Nailer

Don't forget to consider the brand when making your decision. Trusted brands such as Stanley Bostitch, Hitachi, Senco or Paslode will usually lead to less jams and repairs. 


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20 COMMENTS

  • Frederick Farol July 28, 2016 at 7:29 PM

    Does the Bostutch 16 gauge finish nailer fire nails longer than one inch?How do you load nails longer than one inch? My friend has a Porter Cable finish nailer and he can't figure out how to feed the longer nails into the slot. I am considering buying a Bostitch nailer if I get a good response from you. Thanks.

    • Nail Gun Depot July 29, 2016 at 5:08 AM

      Frederick, we do offer several Bostitch 16 gauge finish nailers that run larger than 1". In fact, most of them do. They should load the same way as normal. Here is a link to all of our Bostitch finish, brad and pin nailers: http://www.nailgundepot.com/finish-and-brad-nailers20110126161103-products.html.

      We don't carry Porter Cable so I'm not certain how their product is set up, or what the exact fastener range would be for your friend's tool.

      Please feel free to contact a customer service technician for more detail, at sales@nailgundepot.com.

  • pam December 27, 2017 at 2:38 PM

    Wanting to replace a bunch of baseboards and trims. Currently own a Porter Cable 18 gauge brad nailer but it makes a dimple in the wood with each nail.

    Looked at a DeWalt 16 gauge finish nailer but the nails it accommodates are 1.25 to 2.5" long which seems long for baseboards in this old house. Also 16 gauge is sort of fat.

    Thinking a shorter nail or brad would work better but do not want to have to fill in around a ton of dimples. Is there a manufacturer you would recommend instead of the one we have?

    • Nail Gun Depot December 28, 2017 at 6:35 AM

      Pam,

      It really depends on the thickness and density of your baseboards, but typically a brad nailer would be ideal for the projects you've listed.

      We don't stock Porter Cable, but a common issue we see that may cause dimples is when the operator is applying too much pressure on the gun while firing. Due to slight recoil during firing, when too much pressure is applied, the gun may "bounce" on the surface - which causes marring (dimples).

      A brad nailer that features a no-mar tip would also help to prevent surface damage.

      A couple popular options that we offer would include the Bostitch Smart Point line (air-powered), as well as Dewalt Li-Ion cordless models (battery-only).

  • Richard February 6, 2018 at 1:28 AM

    I would like to get a brad nailer for some furniture building projects I am contemplating. The nailers I have looked at all seem too large or too long. Can you recommend a nailer that fires thin diameter fasteners that are an inch at most?

    • Nail Gun Depot February 6, 2018 at 6:03 AM

      Depending on the size of furniture you're assembling, it sounds like an 18 gauge brad nailer is exactly where you want to start. Keep in mind, you can order brads that are one inch or less - even if the tool is rated to run longer sizes. Here's a list of 18 gauge brad nailers we offer: https://www.nailgundepot.com/nailers/finish-nailers/18-gauge-brad-nailers

      For large furniture, you may even want to consider a 16 gauge finish nailer, as the nails will offer better holding strength - but come with a wider diameter (leaving a more noticeable mark on the surface).

      We carry a variety of finish and furniture tools. Good brands to consider include Paslode, Senco, Bostitch and Hitachi. We also carry a value brand, called Freeman, which is not quite as durable for everyday use, but is great for occasional woodworking projects around the home.

  • Oscar Ybarra March 18, 2018 at 10:31 AM

    Thank you for the information it will help me in the near future casue i bought a house and it needs alot of work

  • Chester Morehouse June 1, 2018 at 4:26 PM

    I'm looking into getting an air nailer to do projects around the garage and maybe around the house. What kind of nailer should I get ?

    • marketing June 4, 2018 at 7:36 AM

      We usually recommend starting with an 18 gauge brad nailer, as it will give you the most versatility - whether you're working with larger wood trim, or smaller pieces of woodwork. The ultimate choice really depends on what you're primarily planning to use the tool for. If you're primarily doing door and window trim, you may want the extra holding strength of a 15/16 gauge finish nailer. For small, intricate pieces of woodwork, a pin nailer may be more suitable.

  • Kevin F August 30, 2018 at 7:47 AM

    Hello would a 16 gauge 2.5 inch Finish nailer be ok for a small fencing project. Reviews say you can do it but im not sure. Thanks.

    • Nail Gun Depot August 30, 2018 at 8:22 AM

      It would depend how small the fencing is. If it's decorative wood fence with thin pieces of wood, a 16 gauge nailer would probably be sufficient. If it's larger fencing, you'd need a fencing or framing nailer.

      • Kevin F August 30, 2018 at 4:34 PM

        Would it work for a “small project” as in nailing fence pickets to make 4-5 standard size fence panels and nailing them to the posts? I would think a 2.5 inch nail would at least be good for the pickets. I could always drill screws for the posts. Thanks again.

        • Nail Gun Depot August 31, 2018 at 6:03 AM

          The project you're describing sounds like you're better off using a siding and fencing nailer, such as the Hitachi NV65AH2. Worst case, you should consider investing in a framing nailer, which would also be very capable.

  • Juan A. Flores December 12, 2018 at 5:27 PM

    Is good

  • Terry Lemons February 14, 2019 at 5:08 AM

    Thank you for sharing your experience and tips. I usually browse on the internet first to find out which tools that has the best roofing nailer price and quality. But most of the times, when I go to the store, the product isn’t available. So I really appreciate that you post this great information.

  • Karolyn April 29, 2019 at 12:31 PM

    Hey there! Would you mind if I share your blog with my facebook group?
    There's a lot of folks that I think would really enjoy your content.
    Please let me know. Cheers real madrid drakt

  • Bethel Toler May 26, 2019 at 7:40 PM

    I have Bostitch Pneumatic Brad and finishing Nail Guns. Love them. I want a Framing Nail Gun now for the fence, deck, subflooring, 2x4’s. What Bostitch would be the right one?

    • Nail Gun Depot May 28, 2019 at 4:58 AM

      Hi, and thanks for your email. Since you prefer Bostitch, the BTF83PL framing nailer gets high marks and we recommend it. It's a 21-degree framing nailer that drives plastic strip collated round head nails.

  • Phyliss Chaney August 5, 2019 at 11:30 AM

    I am trying to repair my carport. What type of nail gun would I use to secure post to post

    • Nail Gun Depot August 6, 2019 at 1:53 PM

      Hi Phyliss,
      Repairing a post like this requires a framing nailer. A great option is the Everwin FSN2283, an affordable tool with a 22-degree-angle magazine. It drives 2" to 3-1/2" framing nails. Best of luck to you!

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