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Brad Nailer VS Finish Nailer

Jack Gordon - March 16, 2019 - 0 comments

There has been a never-ending conquest between the brad nailer and the finish nailer. Even though both the nailers are quite dissimilar, people still find bewilderment between the two.

In this piece, I will try to answer all the questions that you ever had about both the nailers. Let’s start:

Table of Content

  • What is Brad Nailer
  • What is Finish Nailer
  • Brad Nailer VS Finish Nailer- A Combat Table
  • When Should You Use Brad Nailer VS When Should You Use Finish Nailer?
  • Some More Help

1. What is Brad Nailer?

There are countless varieties in nailers that are used in woodworking. However, some nailers are used for the precise work, much like a brad nailer. It is used to provide finishing touches such as trim or wooden accents. The prime reason is that these nailers use 18-gauge brads.

As far as nail size is concerned, always remember that higher the number of the nails, smaller is the gauge. 18-gauge brad is quite thin in profile. If you try inserting them using a hammer, they will probably bend. The length usually ranges from 5/8 – 2” which is quite wide and hence, you will be able to find different ways to use the tool.

One of the most admirable things about brad nailer is that it does not leave any holes behind. In most of the cases, you even don’t have to use wood putty because there is nothing to conceal as such.

The nailers are mostly available in two power types: electric and pneumatic. These both types are largely effective. However, there are certain things that you might want to keep into account while making a selection.

First of all, this tip is for the people that are on a budget. The pneumatic brad nailers might seem like an inviting choice as far as budget-friendly purchase is concerned, but in real, they are not.

One should not forget that even if the base model is cheaper than its electric counterpart, it still requires another purchase of air compressor which pretty much bring the sum amount to the same level.

Purchase of a pneumatic tool will be resourceful if you already have one in your workshop. This way, you will not have to make a separate purchase of the air compressor. Electric models are expensive but they are equally powerful as well.

One more thing, brad nailers also have two different modes of operation. One is sequential mode and the other is bump mode.

In sequential mode, the work is done by setting a target and more precisely. On the other hand, in bump mode, the work is done swiftly and without aiming to a specific target.


  • Because the brad nailer uses small nail holes, you don’t have to use wood putty for concealing purposes. You don’t have to work extra hard to sanding and puttying after the completion of the task.
  • The brads are extremely useful when temporarily holding things in place. You can use them while gluing stuff. You can simply take them off after thoroughly applying the glue.
  • The brads are compatible with thinnest of the wood planks. Every wood type has a different requirement of nails. This one is suitable for the thinner wood plank.
  • The brad nailer is perfect for smaller projects like creating jewellery boxes, attaching decorating items, etc.


  • Of course, you cannot use the brad nailer in larger projects or with rigid surfaces. They won’t penetrate through thick plywood.
  • On purchasing pneumatic nailer, you will have to make a separate purchase of air pump.

2. What is Finish Nailer?

Since we have covered a nailer gun for the smaller projects. But certainly, you need something that can be used on thicker wood to hold things. The finish nailers use 14 to 16-gauge, unlike the brad nailer that uses 18-gauge.

The length of the nails is also longer, 1 to 2.5 inches in length. The nails that are used with the finish nailer are headless so that they can easily sink inside the wood completely.

Unlike brad nailers, these leave a prominent mark outside to conceal which you can cover by putty before painting the wood. The nails are usually available in a strip of 50 – 100 nails. Therefore, the working speed is pretty fast because you don’t have to reload the gun time and again.

The strength of the nailer is commendable. It can be used to hold heavy baseboards, crown molding, and cabinets. Such jobs are not possible with the brad nailers. One more interesting thing about finish nailers is that they come in straight and angled designs which increases the versatility. You can pick a nailer according to the project that you are handling.

In the finish nailers as well, you can find two power types such as pneumatic and cordless. Pneumatic ones are stronger and lighter in weight. You can make a purchase according to your need of product, suppose if you are using it on height then a cordless product will suit you the best.

The finish nailer does not consist of any specific mode. It has a single way of the mechanism. This is also a key point of distinction between both.


  • The finish nailer is to be used on thicker and heavier wood. The nails used with the gun are wide and long in profile. They are suitable for baseboards, cabinetry, etc.
  • These are more rigid in nature. Once the nail is shot in the wood, it stays there forever and gives permanent hold.
  • Finish nailer is versatile in nature. You can use it with various surfaces.
  • There is no need to repeat reloading of the gun. Nails are available in large strips.


  • The finish nailer is not suitable for thin and delicate materials. These surfaces are fragile and the operation of finish nailer is strong. It might just tear apart thin materials.
  • It does leave large and deep nail holes that have to be filled.

3. Brad Nailer VS Finish Nailer- A Combat Table

Well, in order to make things precise and clear, you can refer this combat table below:

FeatureBrad NailerFinish Nailer
Function & UsageFragile Work- Mostly for trims and small moldingsTough Jobs- Baseboards, door casings, etc.
Wood TypeThin WoodHardwood, Plywood, MDF Woods
Nail Head1.22 mm1.63 – 1.83 mm
Nail Length5/8 – 2 inches1 – 2.5 inches
Gauge18-gauge14 – 16-gauge

4. When Should You Use Brad Nailer VS When Should You Use Finish Nailer?

Usage of brad nailer is mostly for smaller tasks. It could be home improvement projects like securing a trim, installing interlocking floors, etc.

It can also be used for holding surfaces so that you can conveniently apply glue to it. Overall, this is for small crafting projects.

On the other hand, a finish nailer is used to attach large and thick pieces of wood such as chair rails, crown moldings, door casings, etc.

Both the nailers have pretty different usage when it comes to woodworking tasks. The bandwidth of the project depends on the kind of tool that you are using. We hope that the combat is quite evident and easily understandable.

Some More Help

If you are still struggling between both the nailers and you wish to understand the finest options available in the market then you can refer to our comprehensive guide on brad nailers.

We have recommended some of the leading products in the industry that has earned the goodwill of being the finest brad nailers.

We give you the incredible choices along with their benefits and drawbacks, features, and strengths. Also, we did full justice for the customers to find the appropriate product as per their budget and usage scale. Make an efficient purchase with us as we believe in offering the best possible help and assistance to our readers. Happy Shopping!

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