Whether you are skilled at woodwork or do-it-yourself home projects, or if you are just beginning to do work in these areas, you might want to know a little bit about the best electric, cordless, 18 gauge brad nailers.
This article will give you a little background information about brad nailers, including when to use one instead of a finish nailer, help you decide which one might be best for you with the top 2018 brad nailer reviews, and then spend some time explaining how to use a brad nailer in case you haven’t had the chance to use one before.
- 1 What Is A Brad Nailer?
- 2 How To Choose The Right Brad Nails
- 3 Types Of Brad Nailers
- 4 Best Brad Nailer Reviews On The Market For 2017
- 4.1 1. PORTER-CABLE PCC790LA 20V MAX Lithium 18GA – Best For Cordless
- 4.2 2. DEWALT DC608K 18-Volt 18-Gauge – Best For Woodworking
- 4.3 3. WEN 61720 3/4-Inch To 2-Inch 18-Gauge Brad Nailer – Cheap Brad Nailer
- 4.4 4. Hitachi NT50AE2 18-Gauge 5/8-Inch To 2-Inch – Best For 18 Gauge
- 4.5 5. BOSTITCH BTFP12233 Smart Point 18GA – Best For The Money
- 5 How To Use A Brad Nailer
- 6 Conclusion
What Is A Brad Nailer?
Brad nailers can sometimes be confused with finish nailers, and since the two often look somewhat alike and use almost the same nails, it can definitely be confusing to those who aren’t familiar with both!
However, it is important to remember that a brad nailer is a bit smaller than a finish nailer (not by much, but noticeable), and are used for projects that don’t need as much holding power because the “nails” in a brad nailer aren’t actually nails at all.
When you are choosing between a brad nailer and a finish nailer, it is important to consider the job that you are going to be doing. If you are planning on doing a project such as paneling or using drywall, you’ll want to choose a finish nailer.
If you are only doing something small, such as attaching a very lightweight trim, a brad nailer would be the better choice, as a brad nailer isn’t as likely to be as visible as a finish nailer would be.
A brad nailer is ideal for more delicate projects, such as trim or decorative work, and when attaching smaller pieces to wood. There are also different kind of brads to choose for specific projects, which we will talk about in the next section.
How To Choose The Right Brad Nails
Nail Size And Length
Brad nails come in different sizes for different kinds of projects, including smaller nails for more delicate work, and larger ones for attaching trim and other pieces to woodwork.
For an 18 gauge brad nailer, the nail sizes range from 5/8 inch long to 1-1/2 inches long, and tend to be longer and skinnier than brads from other nailers, such as the fifteen gauge.
This makes it a lot easier to get to those delicate areas or the areas that need a bit of a longer nail to be held in place, like lightweight trim on woodwork or around your home.
Types Of Brad Nailers
Now that we’ve talked about the size and length of the nails that can be used in a brad nailer, let’s talk about the different types of brad nailers themselves. Some brad nailers are cordless, and some are electric – the choice is really up to you, but cordless versions allow you to move around more with them and get more work done without having to worry about finding an outlet.
Brad nailers are also available in different sizes, such as 15 gauge and 18 gauge. The 18 gauge is more versatile and easy to use, and there are plenty of more ways to use this model, so it tends to be the most popular along carpenters and do-it-yourself enthusiasts.
Brad Nailers Materials
If you are looking for a good quality brad nailer, you’re going to want to look into one that is made from durable materials. You will end up paying a bit more for a quality brad nailer that is made from durable materials and that has specific additions that allow you to run the motor longer without it becoming an issue and damaging your tool.
For example, you want to choose a brad nailer that has an adjustable exhaust, so that the debris from the nailer is pushed away instead of entering the tool, causing malfunction. It is also important to find a nailer that has a good gripping surface and that can withstand a drop or a bump if you plan on working with it for a long time.
Many of the newer models of brad nailers have safety precautions built right in, such as a trigger guard that makes sure that the nailer does not keep firing nails if the trigger gets stuck.
Best Brad Nailer Reviews On The Market For 2017
1. PORTER-CABLE PCC790LA 20V MAX Lithium 18GA – Best For Cordless
The Porter-Cable PCC790LA 20V MAX Lithium 18GA is a great cordless brad nailer that offers plenty of power. The versatile 18 gauge nailer is perfect for doing a lot of lighter working. The fact that the unit is powered by a battery means that you won’t need to use an air compressor when working.
The unit includes a battery charger, and the unit boasts the ability to fire over one thousand nails per charge. The tool free stall release lever and the tool free jam release are not just convenient for you, but they are also great safety measures that will help you while working.
The depth adjustment window and tool free depth adjustment wheel allow you to choose how deep your nails go. The unit can accommodate nails ranging from 5/8 inch – 2 inches, and has a magazine capacity of 100 nails.
This unit has been known to have a manufacturing defect that makes the brad nailer turn on with the lights blinking, but the nails do not shoot out of the unit. This seems to have been fixed in newer units.
- Battery powered
- 1,000 nails per charge
- 100 nail magazine capacity
- 5/8″ – 2″ nail accommodation
- Depth adjustment window and tool free adjustment wheel
- Battery charge doesn’t last as long as some might need
- Older models have a defect that make them stop working
2. DEWALT DC608K 18-Volt 18-Gauge – Best For Woodworking
The Dewalt DC608K 18-Volt 18-Gauge brad nailer is a great choice if you are planning on doing a lot of woodworking with the unit, such as installing trim, cabinetry, and detailing.
The unit is designed for easy penetration into both soft and harder woods, allowing you to work with a variety of materials. The straight magazine allows you to use varying nail sizes from 5/8-inch to 2-inch. This unit features a sequential operating mode for precision placement and bump operating mode for ease of speed.
The nosepiece allows you to remove brads and nails without having to use additional tools. The Contact trip off feature allows you to lock the trigger when the unit is not in use in order to prevent dry or misfires that can become a safety hazard.
The unit has been reported to jam a lot more than some other units, and in older models it could cause the motor to burn up faster.
- Accepts a variety of nail sizes
- Great for woodworking
- 2 modes: sequential operating mode and bump operating mode
- Nosepiece to remove nails without additional tools
- Trigger lock when not in use
- A bit heavier than other units
- Jams often
3. WEN 61720 3/4-Inch To 2-Inch 18-Gauge Brad Nailer – Cheap Brad Nailer
If you aren’t up to spending a large amount of money on a brad nailer, the WEN 61720 3/4 inch to 2 inch 18 gauge brad nailer is a great way to pick up one of these tools. The magazine on this unit holds up to 100 brads, and can use brads in sizes from 3/4 inch to 2 inches in length. The unit operates at 60-100 PSI on your air compressor.
The adjustable exhaust port is perfect for controlling the exhaust, and can move 360 degrees. The quick release magazine easily clears jams. The cast-aluminum construction makes the unit lightweight and easy to use.
A depth adjustment wheel is handy for changing just how deep you want the nails to go when you are working with the tool. A rubber grip handle gives you an easy way to hold onto the tool while working with it.
The safety on this brad nailer has been known to stick, causing dangerous situations if care is not taken to remedy the problem.
- Lightweight aluminum construction
- 360 degree adjustable exhaust pot
- High capacity magazine – up to 100 nails
- Quick release magazine
- Safety has been known to stick
- Not as well designed as other brands
- Requires an air compressor
4. Hitachi NT50AE2 18-Gauge 5/8-Inch To 2-Inch – Best For 18 Gauge
A very reputable name brand, the Hitachi NT50AE2 18-Gauge 5/8 inch to 2 inch brad nailer requires an air compressor, but delivers plenty of power for what you get! You have two modes available to you – a mode for constant shooting and a mode for one time firing, and the modes are easy to switch between.
The unit weights only 2.2 pounds, making it incredibly lightweight, and it also features an easy gripping surface to prevent the tool from slipping from your hands during working. The easy clearing nose of the unit allows you to clear jams and remove nails without needing additional tools to do the job.
The unit also feels a depth of drive wheel to give you the option to choose how deep you want your nails to be driven into a surface. The 100 nail capacity magazine can readily fire nails from 5/8 inch – 2 inches in size.
This unit has the tendency to jam often due to the nails slipping outside of the spring loaded plate. While the jam can be cleared easily, it can get somewhat annoying to have to clear them in the middle of a project.
- Grip for safety
- Depth of drive wheel for adjustment
- Easy clearing nose
- High capacity magazine
- 2 shooting modes
- Jams easily
- Requires an air compressor
- Larger nails tend to jam the brad nailer
5. BOSTITCH BTFP12233 Smart Point 18GA – Best For The Money
The BOSTITCH BTFP12233 Smart Point 18GA brad nailer is an incredibly accurate nailer from a trusted company that will help you with your lighter wood or paneling projects. The unit is very versatile when it comes to brad nail sizes, as it accepts nails from 5/8 inch – 2 1/8 inches.
The nailer uses smart point technology which allows you to accurately place your brad nails. The tool free jam release allows you to clear jams in the unit without having to pick up other tools. Dial a Depth Control is a special part of this tool, as it allows you to choose the depth at which you want your nails to fire, making your project easier to complete.
A selectable trigger gives you the choice between selective and constant operation, and the adjustable belt loop will have you keeping your unit in place.
The unit can jam often, and while this might be annoying, the tool free jam release will give you the chance to clear the jams without a secondary tool.
- Uses 5/8 inch – 2 1/8 inch nails
- Features Dial a Depth Control system
- Smart Point Technology allows you to use the tool anywhere
- Selectable trigger with two firing modes
- Tool free jam release
- Jams easily
- Requires air compressor for use
How To Use A Brad Nailer
When you first purchase your brad nailer, you may wonder how to use it.
- The first thing you need to do after purchasing your brad nailer, especially if it is a model that requires an air compressor, is to make sure you have the right size hose adapter so that it fits with your compressor. If you are using a battery charged unit, then you should charge the battery prior to use.
- Once you have this step taken care of, the next is to choose a nail size for the project you are working on. Say, for example, that you are using them to install a decorative piece on a wooden cabinet or other fixture.
- Choose a smaller brad nail so that they are not visible and do not go through the other side of your wood. If you are planning on only using one nail at a time, you will want to use your adjustable trigger to select sequential mode. If you want to use a continuous shooting method, then switching to “bump” mode may be the way to go.
- Next, aim your device, and deploy the trigger. This will shoot the nail where you want it to go. If you need to repeat this step, continue to do so until your project is completed.
- When you finished, you can remove the magazine and add more nails if you plan on using it again, or you can disconnect the unit from the battery or the air compressor and store it safely.
If your unit jams, some of them have a tool free jam release, which allows you to eject the magazine and clear the jam without using another tool to get the nail out.
Some models have other features, such as trigger locks, that you can use when you aren’t planning on using the unit for a while. This can prevent misfires and other potentially dangerous situations. It is important to use any safety features that you might have available to you with your brad nailer so that you can be sure that you and those around you have a reduced risk of injury.
If you run into an issue with your brad nailer, many companies offer warranties with the purchase of a new brad nailer, and you can contact them if you need a replacement, refund, or parts for your brad nailer. Higher end companies also offer servicing so that you don’t need to worry about repairing the nailer yourself.
Choosing a brad nailer can feel a bit overwhelming, especially since there are so many different brands and models on the market. A general rule to keep in mind is to purchase the best nailer that you can afford.
Once you have a good understanding of how to use a brad nailer (and after a bit of practice), you’ll be ready to go to complete a variety of projects that require a smaller, more precise nail than a traditional finish nailer.
It is important to keep in mind that these types of tools are not ideal for drywall or heavier construction projects like a finish nailer, but they are designed for framing, trim, and lighter woodwork.