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Pin Nailer vs Brad Nailer – Which One’s Right for You?

Last Updated on August 11, 2020 by Robert Bennett

Woodworkers and DIYers require the right set of tools in their kit bags to finish their projects. It is good to have a wide range of DIY tools in your workstation.

If you’re planning to renovate your place, make cabinets, perform casing, and trimming, then you may require a nailer. Most of the DIYers use a pin nailer or a brad nailer for finishing projects. Both the tools are quite similar by look and very useful for handling DIY projects. However, you may come across a situation where you’ve to pick one out of these two.

In this article, we’ll discuss both the tools in detail and also specify the differences between the two. Based on the nature of the project, both the tools have their separate advantages and uses. So if you’re confused between pin nailer vs brad nailer, follow this article to know more.

Know About Pin Nailers

Pin Nailers

If you’re a guy who hates filling the nail holes, then a pin nailer is the tool for you. Pin nailer is one of the smallest tools available in the market that uses the thinnest and smallest nails. Generally, the pin nailer shoots 23-gauge nails, which are popularly known as pins. These are headless, straight, and thin pins that do not leave any visible holes on the workpiece.

When you’re shooting pins with a pin nailer, you would rarely need to use wood putty for filling the holes. Pin nails usually don’t offer any holding power, which is why these pins are mainly used along with adhesives. It is done to hold different pieces together until the wood glue dries.

Most pin nailers use 1-inch long pins, but there are models available that allow you to use 2-inches long pins. Since the pins’ size is very small, users cannot use this tool for the wood split. However, it is a perfect tool to deal with delicate materials and finishing projects.

Advantages

  • A great tool to work with delicate materials
  • It doesn’t require wood putty to fill the nail holes
  • The thin nails do not split the workpiece
  • The small size makes it easy to handle

Disadvantages

  • The holding power of the nails is weak

Types of Pin Nailers

  • Pneumatic Pin Nailer – Pin nailers that require compressed air for its operation are known as pneumatic pin nailers. In simpler terms, there’s an integrated air compressor used to run this nailer. There’s no limit when you’re working with pneumatic pin nailers. It means you’ll be able to work with the tool until the air compressor is working fine. This type of nailer requires maintenance for long-lasting performance. Sometimes, it may cost users more than the actual price of the tool. Pneumatic pin nailers are not very powerful, but they’re highly durable. Also, they require a higher amount of energy and pressure.
  • Electric Pin Nailer – Electric pin nailers are usually cordless, which means they are battery-operated. And if you’ve to work at various job sites, you must carry a battery charge in your kit. Generally, it consists of a lithium-ion or nickel-cadmium battery. This type of pin nailer is relatively more powerful but not highly durable. We recommend buyers to look for an electric pin nailer with a lithium-ion battery.

Know About Brad Nailers

Brad Nailers 2

The brad nailer is the most versatile type of nailer. These nailers are a step ahead of pin nailers and can do some impressive finishing carpentry. This tool uses “brad” nails, generally smaller, but larger than pin nails (pins). The brad nailer commonly shoots 18-gauge brads that are small by size but exhibit a handsome holding power. The holding power offered by these nails is comparable to 15- and 16-gauge nailers.

Moreover, these brads have a small head that won’t leave larger holes on the workpiece. However, the holes are relatively more significant than those created by pin nailers, but you’ll hardly require wood putty to fill them.

Woodworkers can use a wide range of brad nails, ranging from ⅜-inch to 2-inch by size. While choosing the brad nailer, make sure that the nail’s length is thrice the thickness of the workpiece. Such that the nail is long enough to go through the material. Since the holding power offered by the tool is pretty good, you don’t need to use glue for holding the workpieces together.

Apart from finishing projects, it also helps in decorating, casing, moldings, trimming boards, and a variety of projects. It can also be used for base-boarding, which is not possible using a pin nailer. Overall, brad nailers are extremely popular among the woodworkers.

Advantages

  • The 18-gauge nails provide more holding power
  • You don’t need to spend money on buying adhesives like wood glue
  • People can use this tool even for base-boarding

Disadvantages

  • It’ll create holes larger than pin nailers
  • While working with thin materials, it may split the workpiece

Types of Brad Nailers

  • Pneumatic Brad Nailer – Pneumatic brad nailers are the ones that use compressed air to work. This compressed air is fed using a lightweight hose that activates the compressor and the nailer. This nailer is available in a variety of sizes, and different operation modes. You need to be smart and pick the right tool as per your project’s needs. Pneumatic brad nailers are very popular among the woodworkers as they allow them to work quickly and continuously. Moreover, they provide clean performance and professional finishing of the workpiece. Since you’ve to deal with compressed air, you need to be extra careful to avoid accidents.
  • Electric Brad Nailer –  Another type of brad nailer available in the market is an electric brad nailer. As the name indicates, the electric brad nailer gets power from an electric motor responsible for driving the nails through the material. They’re generally more rigorous than the pneumatic brad nailers. However, electric brad nailers are considered more effective as they get the job done faster and efficiently. Compared to pneumatic ones, electric brad nailers are relatively costlier but have minimal maintenance.

Difference Between Pin Nailer vs Brad Nailer

Holding Power

A pin nailer offers very little holding power. That’s the reason why they are used with adhesives like wood glue to keep two workpieces together. They’re smaller in size and suitable for materials like softwood, cloth, and others. These nails are easy to pull out; thereby, most woodworkers use them as temporary support.

Brad nailer offers a lower gauge range and higher holding power. They’re much stronger than the pin nailers. Also, they don’t require wood glue to hold workpieces together as the cohesive force is sufficient.

Type of Nails

A pin nailer makes use of headless nails, called pins. These tiny, headless nails can be disguised by cloth, paint, or veneer and don’t have any major significance. They don’t leave any visible nail holes on the workpiece, which means you don’t need to use wood putty.

A brad nailer uses nails known as brads. Even these nails are glued together slightly. They don’t leave any noticeable holes in the material which needs to be filled up. However, they’ve head and are visible on the surface. 

Size of Nails

Every nailer is compatible with nails of different sizes. Most of the pin nailers use 23 gauge pins having a length of 1-inch. However, some models can use longer pins of around 2.5 inches.

On the other hand, a brad nailer works with 18 gauge nails that are typical ⅝” in length. However, they’re very versatile and supports nails of up to 2 inches. It means DIYers can use them for thicker woods as well.

Material Type

Generally, a pin nailer is used in the projects that are based on providing appealing looks. So if you’ve to deal with delicate workpieces, a pin nailer is the best choice. Since the pins used are incredibly narrow, users can’t use this tool for splitting pieces.

Whereas, a brad nailer uses headed nails and is more powerful than the pin nailer. It does not provide the perfect finish as the nail head is visible. So, a brad nailer will be ideal for projects like crown molding, hardwood, and other home improvement jobs.

Final Thoughts

Woodworking demands a lot of hard work. At the same time, you must own the right tools to get the job done. We’ve seen beginners scratching their heads when picking between a pin nailer vs brad nailer. So, here we are trying to find the right one as per your requirements.

Let’s conclude by providing a general overview. Usually, brad nailers are more powerful and than the pin nailers. They’re available in different sizes and price segments. If you’re looking for a handy tool for more than just finishing carpentry, then brad nailer is the tool made for you. On the other hand, a pin nailer is an excellent option for woodworkers working with delicate workpieces. They don’t allow you to work with harder materials, but they’re perfect for small finishing projects.

About Robert Bennett

Hey there! I'm Robert from San Antonio, Texas. I've worked as a carpenter for six years, and I'm very passionate about writing on stuff related to woodworking and DIY. I love to spend my free time working in the workshop or playing with my kids.