Tag Archives: difference between brad nails and finish nails
  • The Difference Between Brad Nails vs Finish Nails

    Question: "What's the difference between brad nails and finish nails? Which should I use for my job?"

    Answer: Whether to use brads or finish nails depends on your woodworking task and the amount of holding power you need. Let's look at the differences between the two kinds of nails.

    An 18-gauge brad nail from Senco


    Benefits of Brad Nails

    Brad nails are formed from a fine, 18-gauge wire, so they are smaller in diameter than finish nails and typically have less holding strength. They're better suited for tasks like light decorative trim and molding, panel installation and crafts. Their size also helps prevent surface splitting, which can occur if the fastener is too large for the material it's being driven into. 

    One of the benefits to an 18-gauge brad is its size. Thanks to a smaller head and diameter, brad nails are easier to conceal in small pieces of wood trim. With a smaller head size, it's possible that the insertion point may not even need to be concealed with wood putty. In other words, 18-gauge brad nails provide a cleaner look than a finish nail without extra touch-up involved.

    The 16-gauge finish nail from Senco

    Benefits of Finish Nails

    Finish nails are made from heavier 15- or 16-gauge wire, which means they can handle a greater payload. For larger trim, such as baseboards or crown molding, a finish nail is more suitable. A finish nail offers increased support and withdrawal resistance versus the brad nail, making it the better choice when installing larger trim and woodwork.

    Because it leaves a more visible hole in the surface, a fully driven finish nail almost always requires followup attention—which includes being puttied over to conceal the "shiner" (the exposed insertion point of a nail). In all, 

    Senco DA Finish Nails

    According to Senco, "The initial tool purchased by most consumers is typically some kind of brad nailer for attaching finish molding. Most who have used a hammer to drive small brads know the frustration when these nails bend - not to mention the possibility for damage if using too much force. The brad nailer makes these small trim jobs a breeze, with high-quality results."

    The fact is, most carpenters use a combination of finish and brad tools. If you're just getting started, it's probably best to compare your application against the tools you are considering. From there, consider the tool that will suit your overall needs best.


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    Brad Nails
    18-Gauge Straight Brad Nails

    18-Gauge Angled Brad Nails

    Finish Nails

    16-Gauge Straight Finish Nails

    15-Gauge Angled Finish Nails (DA Type)

    15-Gauge Angled Finish Nails (DA Type)

    15-Gauge Finish Nails (FN Type)

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