brad nailers?

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Forum topic by jbmaine posted 12-09-2019 10:36 PM 1072 views 0 times favorited 19 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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165 posts in 632 days

12-09-2019 10:36 PM

I’ve been wondering about how useful brad nailers might be for woodworking, and or doing things around the house. I don’t own a compressor so have never owned a nail/ brad gun, but the battery powered ones seem to get good reviews. I own some Ryobi 18 volt tools and saw the 18 gauge brad nailer is on sale. I’m thinking if I had one I’d find uses for it, but if anyone has one ( Ryobi or otherwise ) could you let me know, do you use it much, or would you buy one again if yours crapped out? Thanks

19 replies so far

View whitedogone's profile


37 posts in 3305 days

#1 posted 12-09-2019 10:44 PM

If it were me, I’d be looking at buying a small compressor. I can’t imagine a house/shop without at least a small one.

View Walker's profile


465 posts in 1634 days

#2 posted 12-09-2019 11:10 PM

Don’t waste money on the battery operated ones. Even a small compressor will be much more useful in the future for you, because you can add other tools.

There are some fantastic deals on starter packages at the big box stores (especially this time of year). I bought a dewalt one a couple years ago that included a decent sized (6 gallon) compressor, a 50ft hose, and a brad nailer for $150. I’ve even seen packs that had three guns, a hose, and a compressor under $250.

The brad nailer is great for attaching mdf to other mdf. It’s worth it if you work with mdf a lot. I’ve also used it for small trim pieces when I renovated my kitchen. The brads aren’t really good for anything bigger then 1/4” thick, or any hardwood. But if you had a compressor, you could cheaply add bigger guns in the future. For me, when I did the kitchen I added an angled 2.5” nailer which was incredibly useful. I use that one for other woodworking projects too.

I purchased a small accessory kit for the compressor/hose. A nozzle/gun that lets me blow air…which I could not live without now. I use it to clean out inside the jointer, table saw, etc. Also to blow the sawdust off my glasses! Adapters for bike tires, car tires, basket balls, etc were also in the kit which I’ve used on occasion.

Then I purchased an HVLP sprayer that works off the compressor. Useful for finishing bigger projects, painting, etc.

-- ~Walker

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4448 posts in 1068 days

#3 posted 12-09-2019 11:14 PM

I have a 30 gallon craftsman professional standup compressor and use it all the time. I have an old PC finish nailer and Bostitch brad nailer and i use them quite a bit. Mostly around the house. This week i am using 2” brads to put up herringbone plank wall in the bathroom for example. I used to use the finish nailer quite a bit when i used to make speaker/subwoofer enclosures. Not so much for furniture. But i may brad nail moldings onto furniture.

Most battery tools i have used seem disposable and usually are. Air tools seem to last a lifetime. Or if you buy Senco probably a few lifetimes. I’ve actually seen old sencos in Habitat Restore that look 50-60 years old and still work.

View KenKorch's profile


17 posts in 1330 days

#4 posted 12-09-2019 11:28 PM

Porter Cable nailers used to have very good nailers. Does anyone know if the nailers from the “new” Porter Cable are as good?

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18825 posts in 2147 days

#5 posted 12-09-2019 11:33 PM

i couldn’t imagine not having a compressor,but i use my 18ga.nailer a lot too,especially if you get into doing much cabinet walker said check for combo deals you can get a small comressor and usually a couple nailers at a great price.ive always used bostich myself and never had a problem.

-- working with my hands is a joy,it gives me a sense of fulfillment,somthing so many seek and so few find.-SAM MALOOF.

View Axis39's profile


522 posts in 759 days

#6 posted 12-09-2019 11:57 PM

I am also one who cannot imagine having a shop without a compressor and a stack of different air nailers and air staplers.

I do own a battery operated Ridgid 18 ga nailer. I use it on the jobsite (or parts fo the house my air hose won’t reach to). I used to carry a small air compressor on my truck (when I was on jobsites every day)... Until I bought the battery powered gun. But, I also used to be a trim carpenter… So running nailers all day long was a regular occurrence. The biggest problem I’ve found with battery operated nailers is inconsistent driving depth. I have to follow up with a nail set more often with batteries.

As for pneumatics, I own a 15 ga nailer, an 18 ga brad nailer, a 23 ga pin nailer, a narrow crown stapler, and a t-50 stapler. They all have their uses and I pull one or two out every week.

I build a lot of cabinets and use air nailers for this all the time, small trim pieces, backs, blocking, etc. I don’t use them very often for small boxes or carving projects.

A nail gun will attach something quickly, while the glue dries. A narrow crown stapler works great for really holding blocking in place. A pin nailer works nicely because it doesn’t leave a huge hole in the workpiece.

So, yeah, I find uses for nailers all the time in woodworking.

-- John F. SoCal transplant, chewer uppper of good wood

View Rick  Dennington's profile

Rick Dennington

7167 posts in 4357 days

#7 posted 12-10-2019 12:09 AM

Like everyone has said…..get an air compressor and you won’t go wrong….I’ve never been w/o one, and I have everything I need to get the job done…..and everything you should have to have an air compressor….An air compressor is like a credit card…..”Don’t leave the shop w/o one”.....But it….you won’t regret it…....ever…!

-- " There's a better way.....find it"...... Thomas Edison.

View Think0075's profile


36 posts in 887 days

#8 posted 12-10-2019 12:11 AM

yeah brad nailers are awesome, battery can be nice if you working on site somewhere and don’t want to deal with the noise of electricity required for a compressor. I work in a cabinet shop and also build furniture. At work I go through at least 2-3 a year, got a bunch that need to get sent back to be fixed. Senco are great, the old porter cable ones were pretty nice, the new porter cable and dewalt ones work just fine but they just aren’t lasting as long for me.

I would also say a 23g pin nailer is awesome. Holds small pieces in place while the glue dries and leaves a tiny hole that u can hide easily.

Even if you don’t use them in your finish projects. It’s nice to have just to throw together jigs\stops\layout pieces quickly.

View BattleRidge's profile


152 posts in 1378 days

#9 posted 12-10-2019 12:42 AM

I’ve had a pneumatic Firestorm (by Black & Decker) 18 gauge brad nailer that was a hand-me-down when my father passed away and use it in my finish area in the basement of my home for a variety of tasks. It is powered by a simple and small portable compressor that more than handles the air volume/pressure needs there. The brad nailer (and compressor) have been around several years now and still functions well.

When I decided to expand my capabilities and add additional capabilities in my detached workshop, I researched a multitude of options (pneumatic vs battery, various brands, size and type, features and more) and in the end I chose to go with a package of several units that provided a more affordable overall cost vs buying each separately over time. I also went with a more middle-of-the-road choice over the more expensive or cheapest brands. I have a larger compressor in the shop so there is plenty of air to spare.

The set I purchased in February is the Freeman P4FNCB that cost $200 ($50 / tool) which included a 16 gauge finish nailer, 18 gauge brad nailer, 18 gauge narrow crown stapler and 23 gauge pin nailer, that also came with a storage bag and a variety of other tidbits. This far I have been more than satisfied with the performance the units have given and they have never let me down, and they have a wide range of options available to cover pretty much all uses I need to fill. Each tool fills a particular niche and no individual unit is a one-size-fits-all, though an 18 gauge brad nailer would seem to be the most versatile if only one unit is chosen.

While it is nice to have a wide array of tools to choose from while shopping, it can also be a bit overwhelming with the multitude of brands and the range of prices available. The final choice often boils down to your personal needs (now and anticipated into the future) and in the end it is likely that you will make a good decision no matter which way you go – and you can always adjust / add to whatever path you choose should it be needed.

-- ~Art~

View Madmark2's profile


2967 posts in 1750 days

#10 posted 12-10-2019 01:36 AM

Not big on nailers (just until the glue dries …) but the air hose for dusting and the hvlp sprayer are worth the cost of the little entry level porter cable pancake compressor. Air in the shop is a great addition.


-- The hump with the stump and the pump!

View jbmaine's profile


165 posts in 632 days

#11 posted 12-10-2019 01:45 AM

Sounds like a compresser is the way to go , Thanks

View mike02719's profile


304 posts in 4948 days

#12 posted 12-10-2019 01:55 AM

Brad nailers are indispensable in the shop as are air compressors. You can use them while glueing, building furniture, or holding anything together. The hole is very small and easily concealed. The air compressor is also a necessity. Along with the shop needs, tires,bikes, balls, painting,etc. There is no limit to uses for an AC.

-- Mike, Massachusetts

View Andybb's profile


3324 posts in 1766 days

#13 posted 12-10-2019 02:22 AM

If it were me, I d be looking at buying a small compressor. I can t imagine a house/shop without at least a small one.

- whitedogone

I have 3 guns. I use the larger finish nailer a few times a year but use the brad and pin nailer ALL of the time and the compressor gets used every day that I’m in the shop if only for blowing dust and debris off of tables and projects. Can’t imagine being without it.

-- Andy - Seattle USA

View controlfreak's profile (online now)


2511 posts in 764 days

#14 posted 12-10-2019 12:41 PM

I have three Hitachi guns, framing, finish, brad and will get a pin gun next. I have a pancake compressor but am looking to get a quieter higher volume one for future spraying. The ones in the packages are kind of noisey. You also can’t pump up a tire or blow off a piece with a battery operated gun.

View Lazyman's profile


7436 posts in 2550 days

#15 posted 12-10-2019 01:20 PM

I also cannot imagine not having a compressor: however, my small pancake Porter Cable compressor is the loudest power tool in my shop. I feel like I need to wear hearing protection when it cycles on and I nearly jump out of my skin when it does. I probably use it more for filling the tires on my car than anything else. I recently just bought a bigger California Air compressor and just listed my pancake compressor on Craigslist. The CA one i bought is quiet enough that you can carry on a conversation standing next to it while it is running. If you just don’t want a compressor taking up room in your shop and you only occasionally need a nailer, the battery operated ones would be pretty convenient. I bought NuMax pin and brad pneumatic nailers from Home Depot several years ago because they have good reviews and are cheaper than most brands with no regrets. Note that Porter Cable often has a package deal where they sell a pancake compressor with one or more nail guns.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

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