Last Updated on July 8, 2020 by woodcutter
A perfect nail on the right piece will give your project a great look it needs and deserves. Brad and finish nailers are two very similar-looking types of nail shotguns. Therefore, the need to know the different purposes the two nailers serve. Although they function quite differently according to use, you may find yourself in a dilemma. Are you wondering which nailer will do the best job for you? Read on to figure out which one is best for your task at hand.
If you are not acquainted with the real purpose of each of these, this article will enlighten you as I take a close look at the characteristics of both nailers. After that, differentiate them from setting one apart from the other. To understand the differences, we will examine each type of nail individually and compare and contrast their different features and functions.
What is Nailer?
A nailer is a gun that shoots into the wood. It eliminates the hustle of a hammer that may bend or damage nails. Different nail guns shoot different nails that have got different sizes in length and diameter. Finish nailers, also known as finishing nailers and brad nailers, are two different types of nailers.
Characteristics of a Finish Nailer
- It accommodates nails with a length between 1 inch and 2 inches.
- It uses a nail size of 15 gauge and 18 gauge.
- They are used where a gun stronger than a brad nailer is needed.
- However, finish nailers are not as strong as other heavy-duty nail guns.
- Finish nailers have power strength that is between brad nailers and other regular nailers.
- A finish nail gun is best suited for molding or trimming baseboards than a regular nail gun.
- Nails are generally headless to blend in with the wood surface, making them very difficult to remove.
Advantages of Finish Nailers
- Best suited for assembling furniture, fixing plywood, baseboards, woodworking, and molding.
- 15 gauge and 16 gauge nails are thicker; therefore, their holding strength is more significant.
- It uses bigger nails that are better and have more substantial holding power, thus offering better results.
- End products are also more durable because of the greater holding strength.
- Finishing nailers are assembled in a way that allows them to reach corners, thus making them easier to work with.
- They are multipurpose and quite handy, thereby useful for different purposes.
Challenges Of Using Finish Nailers
- Finish nailers might not entirely be the best choice for narrow boards or thin trims because of their larger nail size; they can split the wood.
- 15 gauge and 16 gauge nails produce holes that require filling because of their big size. You will then need additional putty. And this means more labor and cost.
Characteristics of Brad Nailer
- Unlike any other nailer, the brad nailer shoots tiny nails called brads.
- Brads are quite smaller and thinner than regular nails. They have a size of 18 gauge and a cross-section of 0.0475 inches.
- Brads are very delicate and can easily bend.
- All other features are similar to a regular nail gun.
- A thin piece of trim can be cracked or broken by a regular-sized nail. Brads are, therefore, essential if you need to give your trim the neat and perfect finish desired.
- Brads are also very useful for molding.
Advantages of Brad Nailers
- They are quite small in size with a size of 18 gauge; therefore, they give a perfect finish to any trim or mold without damaging it.
- It is best suited for delicate woodwork.
- It can be used on very small plywood or baseboards.
- Are handy for any do it yourself (DIY) projects.
Challenges Of Using Brad Nailer
- Very difficult to use to reach corners and hard to reach areas.
- It is impossible to hold together large and heavy wood with a brad nailer.
- It is quite hard to hammer in a brad if it does not go in. This is because of how delicate the small nails are. They can easily break and ultimately damage your work.
1) Nail gauge size difference.
The significant difference between the two is their different nail gauge sizes.
What is a nail gauge?
- A nail gauge is the measurement of a nail size.
- A higher gauge number represents a thinner nail size.
- Common nail gun gauge sizes vary between 15, 16, and 18.
Brad nail guns shoot thinner nails of an 18 gauge and help you attach delicate trims.
On the other hand, finish nails have a higher gauge that represents thicker nails. These are 15 gauge and 16 nail gauges. They are giving more holing strength.
This table shows the numerical difference in sizes of the nails from a finish nailer vs brad nailer.
|FINISH NAILER||BRAD NAILER|
|Nail size||15 gauge or 16 gauge||18 gauge|
|Millimetres (mm)||1.588 mm or 1.83 mm||1.207 mm|
|Inches||0.0625 inches or 0.072 inches||0.0475 inches|
2) The difference in hole size
Brad nailers and finish nailers leave different sizes of holes in the wood. And this is mainly because of the different nail sizes they have. Brad nailers have got a nail size of 18 gauge and a smaller diameter of 1.207 mm. Therefore, they leave smaller holes than finish nailers with a 15 or 16 gauge capacity and a width of 1.588 or 1.83 mm.
The size of the hole left by the finish nailer is quite visible. Such big holes are undesirable. You will need to use putty to fill up the large gaps left in your work. Which is, of course, extra work for the carpenter. Brad nailers, however, leave smaller holes that the carpenter. Therefore, brad nails leave smaller holes in your work than finish nailers.
3) Strength or power difference
Finish nailers are stronger than brad nailers. More robust and bigger nails are required for more solid and harder wood that needs to be secured. Thus the need for a finishing nailer. Using a brad nailer for more sturdy or thick wood might require you to use a large number of nails. Even though, does not guarantee it can be adequately secured.
Although brad nailers are not as robust as finish nailers, they are best suitable for their function to attach lightweight wood, trims, and moldings. Substituting brad nailers with finish nailers can split and damage your project, thus has disastrous effects. Therefore, you need to make sure you properly access your material and use the right nail.
On edges and corners, you may find it more accessible and neater to use finish nailers than brad nailers. They do a smoother job with fewer damages than their counterparts.
It is important to note that what differentiates the two nailers is their specific uses for different purposes. For thin, delicate trims and moldings, be sure to use brad nailers. Alternatively, for heavy wood use finishing nailers.
In Summary, Using a Finish Nailer VS Brad Nailer
- When compared in size, the brad nailer is smaller than the finish nailer.
- Brad nailers use brads. These are thinner than nails and have smaller heads, making them perfect to use to attach lightweight trim.
- Finish nailers use bigger nails.
- Finish nailers are thicker, thus the increased risk of breaking or splitting thin pieces of trim. Brad nailers do a smooth job on delicate wood.
When To Use Finish Nailers vs Brad Nailers
You must note the different purposes of brad and a finish nailer. And this helps you gain clarity on when to use which.
1) When to Use Finish Nailers
Finish nailers are more versatile as compared to brad nailers. Finish nailers have higher holding power. Therefore, if you need a firm finish on your work, you ought to use a finishing nailer. As it firmly and tightly attaches your pieces. Finish nailers are ideal for heavy pieces of cabinetry, large trims, and molds. When attaching a baseboard to drywall, a finish nailer does the best job. This is because of the more challenging nature of drywalls.
2) When To Use Brad Nailers
Brad nailers are thinner and give a neat hole that is not recognizable. They are strong enough to hold lightweight attachments. There is no need to cover any hole with putty as brad nailers give a well-disguised finish. If your trimming is lightweight and can easily split, then it is best to use a brad nailer.
Both the finish and brad nailers are handy tools in carpentry work. However, if misused, they can spoil a masterpiece. These points discussed above are the significant differences in a finish vs. brad nailer. Take care to note where to use which nailer to avoid your pieces falling apart by using a brad nailer for dense hardwood. Do not crack and destroy your delicate trims and molds due to the wrong oversized nail from a finishing jailer. Instead, be sure to use the correct nailer for the right job. Do it like a pro!