If you can’t tell, the whole home project thing is going a bit slowly at the moment. We do have a couple home improvement tricks up our sleeve yet, so don’t go anywhere! In the meantime, I thought I’d continue where I left off with our air compressor post last week. This time I thought I’d discuss air powered or pneumatic nail guns.
Nail guns are generally task orientated so you use the nail gun most appropriate to whatever you’re working on. For hobbyists that do a good amount of light carpentry work, this may be a brad nailer or maybe a finish nailer. If you’re framing up some 2x lumber while refinishing a basement or building a shed, then you’re going to want a framing nailer.
Here is a list of nail guns and how I’ve used them.
1. Brad Nailer. A brad nailer is pretty much the jack of all trades for hobbyists and DIYers. It shoot nails that range in length from around 1/2″ to 1 1/4″, maybe slightly longer depending upon the application. The nails are 18 ga, which if you’re not familiar with sizes the larger the number, the smaller the nail. I used a brad nailer to install all the baseboard and window trim in our first home. We also used one to assemble our sliding drawer project. You can’t use really long nails in these nor can you them to assemble 2×4’s or anything majorly large. There are a few different manufacturers on the market and the usually run around $100 new. This is a perfect first nail gun.
2. Finish Nailer. These nailers are a little bigger with 15 or 16 ga nails. They’re also capable of shooting much longer nails. These are more appropriate for specialty trim or carpentry projects. We used one to nail the MDF raised panel sections to the wall since the nail needed to go through 3/4″ thick MDF, 1/2″ thick drywall and then into the 2x wall stud. Price wise, they aren’t much more money than brad nailers.
3. Framing Nailers. These are some big nail guns. They shoot the regular flat head framing nails most of us are familiar with. They’re not very useful for smaller projects as they’re too powerful for window and door trim work. Framing nailers are a little more expensive than brad or finish nailers and can run around $200 for a new gun. They’re worth the price though considering how much time you can save framing up a basement or a home addition.
4. Pin Nailers. These guns are considerably smaller than even the brad nailers. If you can’t tell from the name, they shoot very small, very thin nails designed to not leave a noticeable nail hole on your project. The downside? They are delicate, somewhat easier to break and are not ideal for all projects. You can’t use this gun for most window or door trim projects, the nails just aren’t long or big enough to grip something heavy. These nail guns are absolutely perfect for attaching small, thin pieces of wood that would look stupid with big nail holes in them or would otherwise split from larger nails. Pin nailers are not cheap either. Good guns can cost you more than a decent framing nailer!!
5. Staplers. Staplers can be useful for certain application where nails just don’t provide adequate fastening. Like what? Well, like fabric or thin plywood. You can’t upholster a chair with nails, you need something to grab the fabric. The price for staplers is usually around the price of a brad nailer. I’ve never actually used one myself, but I haven’t worked on any projects that would require one.
Hope that helps to explain the basics of nail gun options. Any questions?