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Which Nailer is Right For You?

Posted by Katy | Toolstop on 16th Sep 2020

Changing an SDS Chuck Mechanism can be daunting if you have never done so before. That is why we have created this handy Toolstop guide. If you want to know how to change a drill chuck, to be precise how to change the chuck on an sds drill, follow the given steps to be able to do so with ease.

This Toolstop guide has been created to show you which nailer is best suited to you and the jobs you will be carrying out. What is a brad nailer vs finishing nailer? All is explained in this handy guide.

when to use a brad nailer

What is a Brad Nailer vs Finishing Nailer?

Quite often we get excited about big, tough and capable power tools. Tools like 2-kilo hammers, grinders, core cutters. But in this guide, we’re getting excited about tools that perform much more delicate tasks.

You see, once we’ve finished chipping concrete, drilling pilot holes into concrete blocks (which we’ve cut with our grinder), we then move into the finishing jobs. The jobs where we get to make things look nice and pretty. And the tools in question will be brad nailers or finishing nailers. Click here to see all of the nailers that are in stock, ready for next-day-delivery.

hikoki nailer

What’s the Difference Between a Brad and Finishing Nailer?

Very simply it’s all about the nails. The term ‘brad nailer’ comes from the type of nail used in the tool. Brad nails are small, thin finishing nails that are usually headless or have narrow heads that allow them to be firmly embedded into the wood. Brad nailers themselves come in a variety of forms. Look out for pneumatic options, electric powered or those that run off lithium-ion battery packs.

Finishing nailers can handle bigger nails, but as with brad nails, the head will be small and the hole created will be easy to fill.

When to use a Brad Nailer

Essentially anyone who does finishing work and needs to affix wood without using screws or pre-drilling! Cabinet makers in particular benefit from brad nailers, as does anyone who needs to affix in a “blind spot”. Oftentimes joiners will fire in a brad nail while they’re waiting for glue to dry as it allows the workpiece to be held in place while leaving only a small, easily-filled hole.

Think lightweight and minimal traffic.

What we mean is, if you’re only affixing a lightweight piece of finishing, or the piece won’t be “handled” a lot, then a brad nailer will do the job.

Who Should Use a Finishing Nailer?

A brad nail won’t offer sufficient depth or width to hold all type of finishing pieces. For example, if you’re affixing heavy moulding a brad nail will not suffice. In that case, you’ll need a finishing nailer, the key difference, as mentioned above, is the size of the nail it’ll fire. In simple terms, the heavier the finishing piece, the bigger the nail you’ll need to affix it.

What to Look Out for When Buying a Nailer?

First off, what power source do you want to use, either to power the nailer itself or to drive the nails?


A combustion powered nailer typically features an internal reservoir filled with flammable gas, normally in the form of a cartridge. An electronic control mechanism allows a little of this gas to flow into the combustion chamber. These nailers depend on a battery which provides a spark, igniting the gas and driving the piston.

Good points:
Typically able to drive larger nails into harder surfaces with ease, without relying on an air supply.
Not-so-good points:

The additional cost of buying gas canisters.

What are they like in action? Watch the NR1890DC 18V Cordless Paper Strip Framing Nailer from HiKOKI in action:

hikoki finishing nailer

Electric: Mains or Battery-powered

An electric powered nail gun runs from either a corded or cordless power supply. Electric nailer relies on an electric current passing through the solenoid and a magnetic field to drive the firing pin. It’s complicated.

Good points:
No messing about with air compressors or gas canisters. And going cordless means you can work anywhere. They have the ability to work at lower temperatures without having to worry about the gas.
Not-so-good points:

Running off the mains and dealing with an electric cord. Downtime while recharging batteries.

A great example of a powerful second-fix cordless nailer is Dewalt’s DCN682N 18V Cordless XR Brushless 18Ga Flooring Stapler. Watch it in action below:

Other buying tips to consider:

  • The size of nails you’ll be working with: will they fit in your nailer and does it have the power required to fire them?
  • What about adjustments? If you need your nails to be counter-sunk, can you adjust this depth on the nailer?
  • Off-site or on-site? Where the majority of your work be undertaken needs to be factored in. If you’re going to be close to power points and air compressors or not
  • True finishing work? If so, look out for a non-marring rubber nose

Safety First

The very nature of any type of nail gun requires that we pay all due care and diligence to our safety, and that of those around as while we work. Make sure you’re wearing PPE, eye protection in particular, and pay attention to all trailing cables and cords. When using a combustion powered nailer, be alert to the exhaust ports; make sure they aren’t blocked and are, if possible, directed away from your face.

If you’ve found this brief overview guide to brad and finishing nailers useful, please share it with your mates! Or if you have any questions or comments, be sure to get in touch.

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Bosch 2608596132 CYL-1 Drill Bit For Masonry

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