Ready to expedite your project with the best brad nailer?
Sure you are. Hammering in nails is old-world, and frankly, not as efficient or precise as using a brad nailer.
These are the best types of nail guns that you need for your woodworking projects to keep everything tight together, while saving you a ton of time.
We’ve looked at the best brad nailers on the market and surveyed dozens of them, but only the top five brands and models made it onto this list.
Let’s explore your five most viable options for a brad nailer, and then fill you in on all the accompanying information you need to own and maintain one.
Porter-Cable MAX Lithium Braid Nailer Kit
To kick off the best battery-operated models, it’s safe to say that nobody does it better than Porter-Cable.
This nifty unit gives you everything that you could possibly need, including a longer-lasting lithium-ion battery, as well as the charger.
Charging is going to take some time, so we recommend going with the dual battery bundle if you’re a heavy hitting woodworker.
While it’s specifically not designated to handle angled nails, who’s going to get a nail gun and only expect to do 90° angles?
There’s plenty of customer accounts to state that these are fine for 45° angles and so on, it just struck us as odd to include this little warning.
Enjoy the 100-nail magazine capacity, as well as the LED light that helps shine on things while you’re lining up your shots.
The only major thing to be on the lookout for with this is the bulkiness of the back end.
It can sometimes get in the way of certain tasks, but if you’re sticking to woodworking, it should be okay.
Porter-Cable includes a three-year warranty to cover just about anything that could happen to this drill, so be sure to keep that handy in case anything happens.
Dewalt DCN680B Max XR
Dewalt is one of the first names in electric tools.
Though they usually stick to pneumatic and air pressure nail guns, this brad nailer is designed to be taken with you everywhere, regardless of what you’re using it for.
They don’t include a battery pack with your purchase, as a fair warning. There are plenty of customers who received their drill to find this out, since it isn’t listed properly.
You’ll be able to buy a higher capacity 20 V battery with a longer lifespan, if you’re willing to pay that much.
You get a clear line of sight thanks to the micro nose, so you know where every nail is going no matter what.
Speaking of which, there’s a handy LED light that shines pretty bright, offering an excellent view while the lightweight chassis rests in your hands.
The best part of Dewalt’s commitment to customer service is their warranty program. We say program, because it’s got three parts.
You have three years against manufacturer defects, a year of service, and ninety days to get your cash back if you don’t like it.
The main problem with this is the low capacity, but the trade-off is that it’s lightweight with a better line of sight. You gotta give a little to get a little.
Ryobi ZRP320 One
As the last electric brad nailer on our list, we didn’t expect it to be a model that primarily comes refurbished.
Ryobi’s nailers are some of the best you can get, and even with this renewed model, it still shatters expectations compared to similarly priced competitor products.
Apart from this model being very lightweight, you get a decent nail capacity. You’ll see a low rate of misfires, as well as a dry fire lockout feature.
This keeps your nailer from operating without any nails in it, and that actually keeps this nailer alive a lot longer.
Because it is refurbished, you don’t get a battery pack or a charger with it. There’s no way to really gauge how well those would be if they were refurbished, so you have to buy new ones.
Because it’s renewed, the warranty is only a 90-day limited one, so any issues that arise after three months are yours to bear.
There’s a good value here, just know that even if you do get this and buy your own battery packs, 18 V batteries run out about six minutes faster than a 20 V battery.
You should either get a second battery, or plan on using this for short intervals.
Bostitch BTFP Smart Point Brad Nailer Kit
We’re back to good magazines sizes with the Bostitch BTFP model. With one-hundred nails in the mag and a lightweight build, it’s absolute power in your hands.
Bostitch included a super durable carrying case to bring everything around in, as well as a very fine nose to keep your line of sight free and clear while using it.
Air compressors offer extra power, but that doesn’t always mean that the nailer can keep up.
Sometimes you’ll notice that the nails are a bit proud and need to be tacked into the wood to remove it from sight/make it easy to paint over.
There’s also a slightly higher chance of jamming than with other models we’ve reviewed (it’s still a narrow margin, but it will get annoying on long days of work).
On top of that Bostitch offers an insane seven-year warranty. It doesn’t go through a third-party warranty provider, either: it’s manufacturer direct.
That gives you protection against just about everything you could imagine, including all the oil-free components.
Provided that you have an air compressor, this is one of the best quality brad nailers that you’ll be able to find.
Wen 18 Gauge Brad Nailer
It’s one of the highest-rated brad nailers you can get, and it’s dirt cheap to buy.
If any brand other than Wen were offering this model for this low price, we’d be wondering what the catch is.
This brad nailer comes with a handy window that looks right into the 60-count magazine, so you can tell when you’re down to the last nail.
There’s no dry fire lockout, but this works well enough so long as you’re being vigilant.
You get a powerful 100 psi, and a durable aluminum body. Drops and scrapes aren’t going to get through this bit of machinery.
In your kit, you’ll receive hex keys and air tool oil to help you along, as well as a nice carrying case to keep everything secure.
However, you do get what you pay for, which is a short-term brad nailer. This is great for those of you on a budget (who also happen to have an air compressor).
You should get about 18 months to two years of use out of this.
A Beginner’s Guide To Brad Nailers
You’ve seen the best of the best, but now it’s time to tell you how we came to this conclusion, and answer your questions on what uses and limitations your brad nailer will have.
There are different tools for different tasks, but for woodworking, a brad nailer will suit a ton of your needs.
What to Look for in a Brad Nailer?
Before you hop into a purchase decision, you should pore over a short list of certain features that brad nailers have, and to what degree.
Look at your common projects and what you’ll be using this for, and shop accordingly. If you’re getting an air compressor model, make sure the psi capabilities match up.
Nobody wants to run out of nails in the middle of a project, but it’s a sad truth that we all face. Look for large magazines.
It’s crazy how quickly you will go through a set of 60 nails, so if you can get a 100 nail mag, that’s the best way to go.
At the very least, your brad nailer should have the next feature to help with your magazine size.
Dry Fire Lock
Dry fire is when you go to use the nailer, and nothing happens: the nails ran out.
This can actually put a lot of stress on your nailer, and it’s important to avoid doing it whenever possible.
The thing is, who’s really going to count down from the 100 nails they put into the unit?
Dry fire locking is when the nailer detects that it’s empty, and refuses to shoot as a result. It’s a low-key but fantastic feature.
PSI (Air Compressor Models)
You’ll be looking at about 60 to 100 psi on most air brad nailers. 100 psi should be enough to penetrate just about any wood, down to the full depth of the nail.
Psi is a good way to measure the capability of a brad nailer, since the power and force is coming from the air compressor.
Battery Life (20 V Models)
20 V batteries are good… until they’re not.
These tend to run out of juice after about twenty-five to thirty-five minutes, and it’s difficult to get it back again, since they can take four to five hours to charge.
Over time, they’ll work at about 15% less capacity, and take 10% more time to charge. It’s just one of the trade-offs of lithium-ion.
This might be a dealbreaker for many of you, but if you buy two batteries and keep them charged, it can be a little more convenient than lugging around an air compressor.
The nose is where the tip of the nailer meets the wood. It seems pretty basic, but you want a narrow nose so you can actually see what you’re doing.
Thinner noses don’t mean that the nailer is any less durable or viable, it’s all about visibility. In all of our research and testing, a narrow nose didn’t impede upon the accuracy of nailing.
There’s a lot of power, even behind a 20 V brad nailer. It’s going to jostle your hand when it fires off, so you need to be ready.
Having a good quality grip is the best way to maintain a clear and accurate nail every single time.
Grips should be ergonomic and conform to your hand, while having enough traction to help you keep the nail gun safe despite its weight.
How to Use a Brad Nailer?
Brad nailers are fairly safe to use compared to lower gauge nailers, but it’s still important to keep safety in mind.
That being said, this is a simple step-by-step brief to set up and use your top rated brad nailer.
- Load up your nails. Be certain that they’re properly aligned in the magazine to avoid jamming in the future.
- Bring the nose to the edge of the wood. Hold it loosely; you want your grim on the handle to be firm, but don’t use pressure to force the nose down into the wood.
- Squeeze the trigger, don’t pull it. When you squeeze it, you’re maintaining stability without sacrificing alignment.
- Check to see if there’s a dimple left at the top of the nail. If not, you did it right. If so, repeat steps two and three until you get a flawless nail.
There’s a few tips to throw into the mix when using your best pneumatic brad nailer. First of all, know the density and the splitting profile of the wood you’re using.
Hard oak is less likely to split than thin plywood, and so on and so forth. There are over two-hundred different types of hardwood that people use, so it’s important to know what’s what.
While factoring in how dense the wood is, also find out if the psi and power in your brad nailer is enough to fully penetrate the wood.
The last thing you want is to squeeze the trigger, and try to pull the nose over to the side, only to find that the nail is still sticking up by ¼”.
Can You Use a Brad Nailer for Framing?
As you might imagine, there are different nailers for different tasks, but it gets very specific. There is such a thing as a framing nailer, which usually leave the nails at a 45° angle.
A brad nail gun is good to use for framing if it’s a small project; you wouldn’t build a wall in your home with a brad nailer.
Brad nails hold very well, even if you have to pop an extra one right next to your initial nail.
One of the reasons they work well for smaller framing projects is that brad nails are incredibly easy to cover up.
Depending on how flush they become with the wood, you might not even need woot putty to fill in the area.
You can just apply primer and paint, and it will look rather seamless.
You can use a brad nailer for picture frames, hope chests, planters and things of the sort, just don’t expect them to be viable to hold an in-home remodel or construction project up.
Can You Use a Brad Nailer for Hardwood Floors?
Yes, you can use a brad nailer for hardwood floors.
The ideal nailer that you’ll be using is a floor nailer, but a few looks at brad nailer reviews will show plenty of handymen who have used them for hardwood at well.
The best thing about it is that you don’t really need 45° angles with hardwood flooring, so your brad nailer doesn’t need to have an angled option (which usually costs more money).
You would only need to drive one nail every twelve inches to have a tight bond to the floor.
If you’re laying ¾” hardwood, just ensure that you have the longest brad nails possible. Most of the time, brad nailers only go up to about 2 ½” in total nail length.
Fit it to the project and know the wood that you’re working with. Since brad nails are a higher gauge, they might not go through denser wood quite so easily.
What do You Use an 18 Gauge Brad Nailer for?
The reason that people opt for the best 18 gauge brad nailer over a pin or finish nailer is because they leave relatively no trace on the wood.
When you’re done with a project and you’re getting to the painting and finish stage, covering up nail heads becomes a bit of a hassle.
With a finish nailer, they have much larger heads and require you to slap some wood putty on there before sanding and painting.
18 gauge nails also don’t split wood nearly as often, so you can pull the trigger without the fear that it’s going to ruin the wood.
You can use these for light grade framing, woodworking projects, and some mild construction projects as well.
If you’re creating heavy duty furniture like beds and couches, a finish nailer would be more appropriate.
There’s still an excellent power behind brad nailers, but since they user thinner nails, you have to think about the stress on the wood and what bind sit.
High levels of pressure on thin nails is just a recipe for disaster. 18 gauge brad nailers work for smaller projects that finish nailers would destroy.
What is the Difference Between a Brad Nailer and a Pin Nailer?
Consider a pin nailer to be a baby version of a brad nailer. The higher gauge your nails are, the thinner they are.
A brad nailer usually uses 18 gauge nails, whereas a pin nailer has a 23 gauge. These work for entirely different projects, some of which are not always woodworking.
The best air brad nailer is going to be more powerful than a pin nailer, because it’s meant to hold furniture and framing together.
Thinner nails don’t offer as much resistance, so if you’re making a stool or something that will sustain the weight of a person, pin nails aren’t the way to go.
Pin nails and brad nails can be used in tandem on certain projects, though. Pin nails are best used for small projects that have thin boards or strips of wood.
You don’t want nail to split the wood or cause a bulge on one side, so thinner nails work better.
Even if you get the best brad nailer for woodworking, you might still need pin nails for the smaller parts of your projects.
Delicate framing or upholstery can be achieved with pin nails, so it just depends on how you like to woodwork.
An Entirely New Set of Skills
Get your air brad nailer, fire it up, and enjoy the time that you’ll be saving in your workshop.
More than that, you’ll be binding your woodworking masterpieces together in a more efficient and sturdy way.
You’ll reduce the amount of splits you encounter from here on out, and build higher quality furniture as a result.
You’ve got this; grab your favorite brad nailer right now, and then hit the workshop.
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