Home » What Do You Use a Brad Nailer For?

What Do You Use a Brad Nailer For?

What is a Brad Nailer?

You’ll often hear a brad nailer referred to as a brad nail gun. Despite what it may sound like, it’s not just a nail gun designed by some random guy called Brad. A brad nailer works in much the same way as any other nail gun: by firing nails into the material you have to fasten.

The difference between a standard nail gun and a brad nail gun is the application. A brad nailer has been specially designed to be most effective on lightweight wood materials, making it particularly useful when working with things like trim, framing, or cabinetry, etc. A traditional standard nail gun would often be used on wood and thin metals.

Carpenter brad using nail gun to moldings on windows, framing trim, with the warning label that all power tools

Rather than traditional nails, a brad nailer fires “brads” – a sort of thinner-than-usual nail. Because the brads are thinner than normal nails, they cause less damage to the wood as they enter, causing less fracturing and splintering, preserving the strength of the material you are using. Brads don’t have a head. This is their major difference from traditional nails and is another feature that makes them particularly useful when working with lightweight woods.

Because brads don’t have a head on them, this further reduces the damage they do to the wood. Of course, the trade-off for this – and them being thinner – is less binding power, although it will still be plenty. Although admittedly, it will be less effective than your standard nail, the way that wood is made up means that brad nails are more than capable of securely holding lightweight pieces of wood in place.

A brad nailer is usually smaller than a finishing nail gun. Aside from this, it will look essentially the same as any other traditional model. If you’re sure that a brad nail gun is what you need, make sure you read the product description carefully and check that it fires brads, not nails.

When you are buying a brad nail gun, ensure that a brad nailer is actually what you need. By definition, they do not have the same levels of binding power as finishing nail guns. This is due to both the set up of the gun and the brads themselves, which don’t have a head and are thinner than normal nails, as mentioned previously.

 What Size of Brads Should I Get?

Carpenter brad using nail gun to Crown Moulding framing trim, with the warning label that all power tools have on them shown illustrating safety concept

There are two main sizes available – these are the 18 gauge brads and 21 gauge brads. The most common gauge is 18. This is because 18 gauge brads tend to provide a stronger join than their 21 gauge brothers.

The large majority of brad nail guns are compatible with a wide range of different lengths of brads. Typically, you would expect most of these products to handle brads from 5/8 of an inch to 2 inches, and on occasion, sometimes more or less than this.

To choose the correct size of brad for the material you are nailing, you should measure the thickness of the piece you are nailing and multiply it by three. For example, if you’re nailing a piece of trim onto something, measure the thickness of the piece of trim. Let’s say that this piece of trim measures 1/3 of an inch. Multiplying this by three will give you the size of brad that you need to fire into this material to hold it in place securely. In this example, you would look to purchase a pack of 1-inch-long brads.

 What Type of Brad Nailer Should I Get?

Air Nailer, Stapler pneumatic work with hand controls. Carpenter fix clapboard.

There are two main options available for you – either a pneumatic model or an electric one. In our opinion, for the DIY worker, unless you are already in possession of an air compressor or are a die-hard fan of pneumatic tools, an electric brad nail gun is probably the best way to go.

Although it’s incredibly useful for the tasks you’re going to be using it for, you are unlikely to need to use this tool very often (although that, of course, does not apply to everyone). A pneumatic tool is unlikely to be worth the investment if you are only going to be using this tool now and then. Although, that shouldn’t stop you if you are already in possession of a compressor.

In recent years, electric power tools have all but overtaken traditional air-powered counterparts in terms of reliability and power, particularly with the advancement of battery technology. You can get brad nailers in either a corded or battery-powered (also known as a “cordless”) version.


We hope this brief introduction to brad nailers has been useful to you and that it might help you decide whether or not you could use one in your work.

If you decide that brad nailers might be a good option for you, we recommend digging a little deeper into the various models and options available. Look at what types of brads would be best for your needs.

Thank you for reading through our article. Stay tuned for more updates!

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