Just like it happens with so many similar tools, some people have wondered, “What’s the difference between a brad nailer and a finish nailer?” Both tools really look the same, having almost the same size and the same nails. So, how can you differentiate them?
Brad nailers and finish nailers have almost the same look and this can even make you think both tools are interchangeable. Brad nailers, somewhat look exactly like smaller framing nails, but they are not the same in any way and they are designed to be used for different jobs.
Brad nailer and finish nailer are so similar that people are easily convinced that both tools are the same. These two types of nailers, however, differ in so many aspects, which include the type of nails, usage, costs, and fields of being used.
For most woodworking projects, you will need to use a nailer no matter what. However, if what you are doing is some simple renovations and upgrades in the house, these tools are the two types that you will likely need
If you are a woodworker, it is advisable to have the brad nailer and finish nailer in your workshop because they will come in handy in different situations. In most cases, the reality is you can only buy one of these tools first, and if you have to choose between both tools, you have to first know all about each of the tools- what it can do, and its pros and cons.
Now let’s see how the brad nailer and finish nailer are different from each other.
Difference between Brad Nailer and Finish Nailer By Nail Type
Brad nailers and finish nailers don’t use the same type of nails. While brad nailers make use of brad nails, finish nailers, on the other hand, use finish nails. Brad nails and finish nails are not very similar.
Brad nails are usually thinner than finish nails and they are usually 5/8 inches to 2 inches long and thick with 18-gauge. The diameter of these nails is 1.22 mm. They are so tiny that people find it difficult to drive them manually.
Finish nails are quite thicker and longer than brad nails. The brad nails are usually 1 inch to 2-1/2 inches long and they have a 15-gauge or 16-gauge thickness. Finish nails diameter is usually around 1.63 to 1.83 mm.
When comparing the brad nailer and the finish nailer, their nails can show that they are indeed very different from each other.
Difference between Brad Nailer and Finish Nailer by Usage
Brad nailers and finish nailers are both used for the purpose of finishing work. The type of finishing works they are used for, however, is different. Due to its low strength and less durability, brad nailers are the go-to tools when it comes to lightweight finishing and trimming works. Finish nailers are the perfect tools when it comes to heavy finishing works. Heavy finishing works are almost impossible for brad nailers.
For trim carpentry, brad nailers are the go-to tools. Brad nailers are mainly used in nailing designs, trims, molds, and frames. Also, for a temporary bond, brad nailers are a great tool and they give good results. This is another function of a brad nailer. In an instance where you want to join two pieces of wood with glue, you can simply make a bond of the woods with glue, shoot braid nails right away an leave it. You will get a perfectly attached joint of two pieces of wood when you take out the nails.
Don’t worry about leaving a scar on your workpiece, brad nails are so small and unable to leave a dent on your workpiece.
Finish nailers, however, are mainly used for heavyweight finishing works, as the name specifies. These nailers strongly attach woods. Finish nailers, therefore, can be used for furniture preparing, cabinet making, door and window molding, and so on. Finish nailers cannot be used in trim carpentry due to their weight-they are too heavy for this kind of carpentry.
Unlike brad nailers, once you drive the finish nails, you cannot take them out because they will leave a huge scar on your workpiece. Deep scars are not welcome in carpentry works because it reduces the perfection of the workpiece.
When to Use a Brad Nailer vs. When to use a Finish Nailer
The kind of job you are doing determines the nailer you should use. You can’t use brad nails with finish nails so you have to make sure you are using the right tool for the job.
Brad nailer should be used for;
Home upgrading, improvements, and repairs. For example, when you want to secure loose trim to your cabinets or add a few baseboards or crown moldings. Brad nailers are also perfect for an extra? hold during interlocking floors installation.
Holding surfaces you want to glue together. You can use a brad nail to hold surfaces together while you’re waiting for adhesives to set in. The nails are easy to remove if you wish to remove them.
Small-scale crafting projects. These nailers are great for making models, picture frames, and birdhouses.
Finish nailer should be used for;
Attaching huge, bulky pieces of trim of molding.
Any work where you need the nail for structural integrity more than appearance.
So, this explains that brad nailers are great for small accents and fragile projects and finish nailers are designed to handle the tougher jobs.
Difference by Cost
Cost is another factor to be considered when comparing
Although the price difference is very low, brad nailers relatively cost less than finish nailers due to the performance it offers. As mentioned above, brad nailers are best used in smaller trimming works, while finish nailers to be used for heavy woodworks. Due to this, finish nailers cost more when compared with brad nailers.
Pros and Cons of brad nailers
The small nail holes of brad nailers mean little to no wood putty. The brads are so thin, so the nails holes are tiny. You don’t have to spend plenty of time puttying and sanding before you get a finished look.
You can use brads to hold things in place and wait for the glue to set. All you have to do is remove them when the glue dries. The nail holes are not so visible.
Brad nailers can’t split even thin woods. For this reason, larger, stronger nail guns are needed to work with fragile, thin materials.
You can’t use it with thick pieces of wood. It won’t go through thick plywood or even MDF.
You will still have to get an air pump if you choose a pneumatic nailer.
Pros and cons of finish nailers
A finish nailer can hold thicker, heavier wood. It has wider and longer nails so it is great for molding, baseball or cabinetry.
Finish nailers can create a lasting hold. Drive a nail with this tool and it is going nowhere.
This tool is really versatile. It can be used with a variety of materials and surfaces.
The nails of brad nailers come in long strips so reloading it very often is not needed.
Finish nailers are not good with thin, delicate materials because they have wide nails and are very strong. You can split thin materials if you use finish nailers on them.
They leave large nail holes behind and this will need to be refilled. This requires more time.
If you like pneumatic nailers better, you will have to buy an air pump.
It is good to have both nailers in your workshop as they will be very useful for many projects. However, if you are just building a collection of your toolkit, you might have to start with one. This means the right tool for you between the brad nailer and the finish nailer will depend on your project.
You already know what brad nailers are used for and what finish nailers are used for, so by now, you should know which of the two you need.
However, for woodworkers who are looking for a versatile tool that can be used for a variety of functions, the finish nailer is actually the best because of its incredible strength. In addition, you need to consider other factors such as the wood type you will be using for your project since the finish nailers is not the best for delicate trim.