You may have heard of a brad nailer from woodworkers or around a DIY or home improvement project. If you asked yourself “what is a brad nailer?”, you are not alone. Many people, including DIYers, are often unaware of a brad nailer and its function.
Today, we will discuss exactly what it is, what it does, and its types to comprehensively answer the question “what is a brad nailer?” We will also talk about choosing the right brad nail for projects, as this can make a huge difference in the result of your woodworking or DIY project.
What is a Brad Nailer?
A brad nailer is a very common power tool used for woodworking, home improvement, repairing, and DIY projects. It is used to hammer or fasten 18-gauge (0.0475-inch) “brad” nails into place. Brad nails are most commonly used for woodwork but can also be used in the repair and home improvement jobs.
The brad nailer is simply a powered nail gun for firing brad nails to help piece together small wooden pieces for carpentry, furniture making, or repair work. Since a brad nailer has tiny nail gauges, it is the preferred option to prevent wood surfaces from splitting.
The good thing about brad nailers is that they are a versatile power tool for woodworkers because they can be used for brad nails in a wide variety of lengths between 1/2 to 2 1/2 inches. Brad nails are even smaller than finish nails, typically 16 gauge or 0.0625-inch thick.
The thin nature of a brad nail means it is very easily hidden over wood surfaces, as it is not immediately noticeable.
Types of Brad Nailers
There are two main types of brad nailers, and they can both accommodate all types and sizes of brad nails.
Pneumatic Brad Nailers
Pneumatic brad nailers are the most common type of brad nailers. As the name suggests, they are powered by air pressure. They use an air compressor to power the gun to fire brad nails into wood surfaces.
Professionals commonly use pneumatic brad nailers because they require less time to recharge, and the air pressure is relatively more consistent and reliable. Unlike other pneumatic nailers that are very versatile, pneumatic brad nailers are specifically designed for intricate and detailed finishing work that uses brad nails.
These nailers require very little maintenance, and are easy to use, clean, and adjust. Additionally, they are quite durable and known to last a long time despite daily heavy use. However, due to the high power from an air compressor, they can be dangerous if not used correctly.
It is best to use this brad nailer cautiously, especially when other people are around you. The only real downside to pneumatic brad nailers is that they aren’t easy to move around. You have to carry the air compressor and connected hose with you wherever you want to use such a brad nailer.
Electric Brad Nailers (Corded and Cordless)
These are the latest types of brad nailers that bring innovation by removing the air compressor from the commonly used pneumatic brad nailer. This innovation adds a lot of convenience to the brad nailer. You don’t have to carry around an air compressor or hose everywhere you want to use your brad nailer.
As the name suggests, electric brad nailers use electricity to power the gun to fire brad nails. Both AC and DC current variants are available in the markets, along with corded and cordless options. Corded ones restrict you to a power outlet, whereas cordless ones are powered by rechargeable batteries, making them highly mobile.
Of course, you have to compromise on a continuous power supply in exchange for this mobility, as batteries are limited to specific runtimes. However, the average woodworker or DIYer will benefit more from cordless brad nailers, especially if they purchase an extra battery.
While pneumatic brad nailers are easy to maintain and clean, electric ones are even easier, as they do not have a hose or air compressor involved. However, you will notice the increase in the weight of your brad nailer when you use a battery-powered cordless one because the battery adds to the weight.
The increased weight is not a huge drawback because these power tools are still fairly easy to use, maneuver, and carry. The best part is that you can use these nailers in tighter spaces, where you may not be able to bring an air compressor and hose.
However, the most important thing to note is that electric brad nailers are not nearly as powerful as pneumatic ones. Hence, professionals doing heavy work like roofing do not prefer electric nailers over pneumatic ones.
Choosing Brad Nails
Working with a brad nailer means working with brad nails, so you need to consider the right one for the task at hand. While a brad nailer will accommodate all types and sizes of brad nails, you still need to consider a few key factors.
For example, the brad nail’s size (length and thickness/gauge) dictates how wide and deep it will penetrate the wood surface. Typically, 18 gauge brad nails are versatile and can be used for most cases, but your project’s needs will determine the length.
However, you may need even thinner brad nails if you don’t want to damage the wood surface you are working on. However, this will depend on the type of wood you are using.
Another factor to consider is whether the brad nail will be exposed or used internally. Exposed or exterior brad nails require rust protection, so you may need stainless steel or galvanized brad nails.
Similarly, you may need brad nails with spiral shank patterns to prevent splitting hardwood surfaces. A ring shank pattern is best for additional holding power. Other factors like the nail head and nail point are also important factors to consider when searching for the right brad nail for your project.
Our Final Thoughts
By now, you should have a good answer to the question “what is a brad nailer?” and a comprehensive understanding of the different brad nailer types, along with choosing the right brad nail to work with.
The information we have provided in this post will help you better understand which brad nailer and brad nail are best for certain projects. Of course, there are plenty more details and specifics, which we can discuss in another post.
For now, use this information to go over your desired woodwork and DIY projects and determine which brad nailer will best suit your needs.