Brad Nailer vs. Pin Nailer; Differences and Similarities

Woodworkers and DIYers require a wide range of tool to make their work easier and finer. While it is always handy to have a combo kit for easy access to all tools, most woodworkers just prefer to buy some first depending on the nature of projects that one often does. Many tools among these perform some things equally well, but they have a fine line of distinction and understanding the capabilities of each tool will save you frustrations along the way.

Brad nailer and pin nailer are similar-looking tools, and they are handy for beginner woodworking projects. They are great tools for finishing that require more attention and effort, whether it is doing some renovations, working on trims or even making cabinets.

However, there are some instances where either tool excels, and by choosing the correct tool, you can give your project the best finish possible, thus maximizing the quality of the final product. Both have distinct differences and offer various advantages depending on the project. This review will help you understand the differences between the two nail guns and instances when you will need to pick a brad or a pin nailer.

Brad Nailer vs. Pin Nailer: General Overview

In essence, a pin nailer is the smallest and the most delicate nail gun of the finish nail gun family. It drives high gauge value nails into a wood piece which acts as a temporary holder. One advantage of a pin nailer is that it allows you to adhere two pieces together without splintering them. Also, you can work without worrying about having to cover the nail head with wood filler.

Brad nailers, on the other hand, are slightly more diverse and they shoot larger nails, where most of them have a distinguished head on them. Although the nails used in brad nailers are still small and delicate, they provide more holding power than the frail pins used in pin nailers.

Both pin and brad nails come in a variety of lengths, each offering a standard size in between. While both nail guns have a considerable amount of driving power, they both cannot be used to drive nails through hardwoods such as MDF or plywood. The nails used in both nailers are narrow, and they don’t have the driving force to go through these materials.

Having said that let’s examine the differences between the two nail guns;

i. Type of nail

A brad nailer utilizes small nails referred to as brads, which are glued together slightly. These brads have a small head which makes them somewhat visible when used on a project. Often, the nail holes are not terribly visible, and you may not need to use wood putty to cover them up.

A pin nailer, on the other hand, uses tiny headless pins that are camouflaged by paint or cloth and they are also glued together. The headless pins are pencil-thin which ensure that they do not leave behind any noticeable holes. If you are planning to use paint or vanish, you will not require to apply any filling.

ii. The nail size

Brad nailers use 18 gauge nails that are usually 5/8″ in length, but they can accommodate up to 2-inch nails. This makes them more versatile when it comes to hardwood work or thicker wood as opposed to just cloth and veneer as is the case with pin nailers.

When it comes to the pin nailers, they come with 23 gauge pins and are typically 1-inch in length, but others can use longer pins of about 2.5 inches.

iii. Material Type

A pin nailer is typically used in projects that involve very soft materials that require excellent finish for an aesthetically appealing look. Also, because the pins are so narrow, it makes it hard for them to split pieces which make them suitable for use with delicate work pieces. Besides, the pins tend to bend easily when used on for nailing hardwood.

Brad nails, on the other hand, are firm and hold material stronger together permanently than pin nails. Also, they have a small head which makes them visible on the working surface, and as such, they do not provide that perfect finish. A brad nailer uses larger gauge nails, which make it ideal for thicker wood surfaces such as crown molding and other home improvement projects.

iv. Holding power

Pins offer very little holding power, and as such, they are best used with adhesives such as wood glue to keep pieces together until the glue dries. This also means that they are not best suited for heavy loads or thick woods. And because they are easy to pull out, most woodworkers do not use them as true-bearing nails but as a temporary support system.

Brad nailers have a lower gauge value, which makes them much stronger than the high gauge pin nailers. The high cohesive forces hold the pieces together, and in most cases, you do not need any form of adhesive to keep the pieces together. This has also has got to do with the fact that brads have nail heads while pins do not.

When to choose a Brad Nailer

Because a brad nailer is a strong nail gun, it can drive nails into wood trim and other woodworking projects. Also, you can drive nails in thinner wood pieces with ease without splitting them.

Although it is strong enough to hold on its own, a brad nailer can be used to affix two pieces together temporarily until the glue dries. Also, it is used to align wood pieces that need to be screwed together and also to adhere baseboard wood.

A brad nailer is often a pneumatically-powered nail gun, which means you can use it on a lengthy wood piece. Also, this enables you to drive nails in hard to reach places. Also, because it leaves relatively small holes, a brad nailer is a versatile finish carpentry gun, and in most cases, no cosmetic coverage is required.

When to Use a Pin Nailer

The nails that a pin nailer drives are designed to be used in temporary applications such as when using glue as the primary adhesive between two pieces of wood. The pins are not permanent connection, but they offer extra support enabling your wood pieces to stay together until the glue has dried.

The pins are also ideal for fragile finishing projects and tiny furniture trim where large nails might split the wood. Delicate furniture trim such as veneers can also be added with a pin nailer. This is because it does not split these fine woods and the pins can be removed with ease without damaging the wood surface.

Brad Nailer or Pin Nailer-Which is better?

Finish carpentry and woodworking requires more work and time, and so it is important to have the correct tools at all times. When you are tasked to choose between the brad or pin nailer often, you can choose either, but it is a good idea to pick what you think you will need most.

For most artisans and DIYers, a brad nailer comes first thanks to its versatility and also because it can be used for almost any project. Brad nailers deliver more holding power, and they are handy for more than just finish carpentry.

A pin nailer, on the other hand, is an excellent choice for woodworkers who work with delicate wood trim, or those who are just looking for something to hold wood pieces temporarily.

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