9 Best Brad Nailers (Electric, Cordless, & Pneumatic) in 2019

Brad nailers are a specific type of nailer that allow you to finish off fine work with one quick, very effective tool. It generally shoots 18-gauge finish nails but there are other sizes you can utilize as well, depending on the project you are working toward completing. This type of nailer is best for specific types of projects, like when installing trim moldings because they are very light and require a thin brad nail to ensure the best finish and guard against damage to the workpiece.

Brad nailers are known for finishing off work without leaving any noticeable traces of their use – the thin-gauge nails used with brad nailers, called brads, have very fine heads that following driving, become virtually invisible. Other types of nailers will use nails that have a head with a larger diameter so upon finishing work, you will need to go back with some putty to keep those unsightly holes from being seen.

If you are in the market for the best electric brad nailer, cordless brad nailer, or pneumatic brad nailer out there, take a look at the guide below to discover what some of the key benefits of brad nailers are, what the main difference is between a brad nailer and a finish nailer, and a thorough set of reviews for some of the best pieces of equipment available. By the time you have finished reading this article, you will be equipped with enough information to purchase the brad nailer that will become your new trusted partner to keep along with the rest of your tools.

3-5 Key Benefits of Brad Nailers

  • Ideal for Minor Repairs – Brad nailers are perfect for this reason alone. You are extremely likely to use this type of tool on a pretty regular basis to complete minor repairs throughout your place, be with any construction material, pieces of wood, upholstery, or furniture. Brad nails are nothing particularly special, they are just small nails that should be useful but unseen by the time they have been inserted into whatever type of material you are working with. The brad nailer technically could be replaced by a finish nail to complete these little projects but the truth is, the brad nailer works more efficiently and quickly with this type of work. All you have to do is use a single trigger and you can insert brad nails extremely quickly into whichever material you are working with – these brads eject quickly and insert beautifully with the press of a finger, freeing up your time to work on anything else your heart desires (or just veg out for the weekend).
  • Add Fabric to Your Furniture – Woodcraft has become a popular pastime throughout the world, following its lack of appreciation over the last thirty to forty years. So many people are beginning to understand just how much control they have over furniture design and with the vastness of the internet, they are finding that a hobby like woodcraft can earn them a side income while they enjoy themselves creatively using tools like a brad nail to complete delicate work. A brad nailer is a great addition to create pieces of custom furniture and it will serve you well throughout the life of a custom piece as well, as you will utilize it if any repairs are required at any point throughout the life of the furniture piece.
  • Perfect for Many DIY Projects – If you have embarked on the wonderful journey that is ownership of a home, you have come to realize that your home is an ongoing, never-ending project. There is always something to repair or work on or improve upon which requires the development of some do-it-yourself (DIY) skills if you have not already delved into that world prior to your first home. Brad nailers are great little tools that come in with the assist on anything from tacking down a carpet that might have been lifted by the dog to building or refinishing your nightstands, to mounting molding in different rooms, to handling all the other aesthetic projects that will bring a new feel to any room of the house. The brad nailer will quickly become a best buddy to make these projects not only a breeze to complete, but also a lot of fun.
  • Move More Quickly and Efficiently – Anybody with a ton of experience will move very quickly – there are entire video compilations on the internet dedicated to exposing the artistry humans are capable of when their work is repetitive, and they become masters at it. However, even a master with nails will not be able to work with the swiftness of a brad nailer. The moment you have lined up all the required pieces of the wood you are working with, your brad nailer can drive three nails to secure one of the jointed areas in the same amount of time it would take to drive one brad nail in my hand. We are talking three times faster than the fastest nailer around so unless you particularly enjoy working by hand and elongating projects that could take a fraction of the time, a brad nailer is an excellent companion to get your work completed with speed and accuracy.
  • Nails Are Loaded Versus Carried Separately  – Your brad nailer will not only deliver speed and precision, it will also eradicate the need to carry around little pointed nails, making for a streamlined and safer nailing experience. Even if you are connected to an air compressor and hose, you will be better off without carrying a bucket of nails that can spill over and have you on your hands and knees for far too long attempting to clean it all up. At the very least, you will be walking around with a lighter toolbelt – now, we didn’t say it would fit better. That’s a whole other topic altogether!

Main Differences between a Brad Nailer and Finish Nailer

Brad nailers and finish nailers have a very similar appearance. They seem to use similar nails, they are about the same size, so it can be difficult to tell what the real difference is.

You will find that brad nailers are usually a little bit smaller in size than a finish nailer. If you place them side-by-side, you will be able to pick out the brad nailer based on the fact it does not match up to the size of the finish nailer. The brad nailer will not have the same holding power either because the nails it works with are technically not even nails. They are brads. Fancy, right?

Brads are just a thinner gauge of a nail that is utilized when attaching lightweight trim
– they are super handy because of how thin they are and the head is so much more tiny that you can just be done immediately following insertion; there is really no need to have to come back and cover up any visible holes with wood putty. Some people like working with wood putty and sure, more power to them, but the real benefit of working with a brad nailer is that the thinness of the brads it uses will protect the materials you are working with – this means less splitting or breaking those thin pieces of trim when you are working on installation projects.

The last aspect that sets a brad nailer apart is how it behaves when attaching one wood piece to another wood piece. This is because the way the wood is structured permits for a secure attachment without the larger head that makes up finish nails.

Pneumatic brad nailers will include either a battery or a fuel cell and so long as the compressor is connected, the force at which brads are driven into material will remain consistent. These tools are also extremely mobile, allowing you to move around freely as you work through completing various projects. A cordless brad nailer will be the most mobile out of the bunch but even other options give you enough mobility to feel free to roam your working space.

Finish nailers will be a more versatile tool but it will not perform well with delicate projects. It is meant to handle more heavy-duty types of work and will have significantly more holding power than a brad nailer. If the material you are working with is extra-large or extra-heavy, the finish nailer will be the better option to complete the project. Finish nailers are built to be stronger and will be able to handle the tougher work that a brad nailer was not designed for. In addition, finish nails will attach more strongly due to their larger diameter heads so although brad nails will fit in almost invisibly, their holding power is diminished for this same reason. Since this is the case, it is up to you to decide when to use a finish nailer and when a brad nailer will do just the trick for your smaller or more delicate and precise projects.

Overall Best Brad Nailer in 2019

Hitachi NT50AE2 18-Gauge 5/8-Inch to 2-Inch Brad Nailer

Key Features:

  • Selective actuation permits user to select different firing modes
  • Lightweight at only 2.2 lbs.
  • Comfortable grip that prevents slipping
  • Quick, tool-less nail jam fix

Overall Best Brad Nailer – This Hitachi brad nailer allows you to adjust the drive depth which results in a professional finish. The selective actuation means that by flipping a switch, you can use either bump fire or contact fire modes. If you need the intermittent firing for precision or if you need a faster pace, you can select the continuous bumping setting to use along the length of your work area.

The brad nailer is made with super lightweight aluminum and balanced well so you can use it throughout the day without tiring. The grip is comfortable and if you are working in slippery conditions, you can be sure you will be able to maintain a good hold. The tool-less nail extraction lets you clear the nose easily and quickly.

For ease of use, this Hitachi model includes a bottom-loading magazine that’s created for fast loading of 5/8-2-inch brad nails that have head sizes between 0.075 and 1.9 mm. The magazine can hold about 100 brad nails, depending on their size, so you don’t have to reload on a constant basis and maintain efficiency while you work. The nail indicator gives you visibility of the nails so you know when it’s getting close to reloading time.

Pros:

  • Lightweight for easy maneuverability
  • Dual firing options
  • High-capacity magazine
  • Adjustable depth of drive

Cons:

  • Leaves a mark larger than the trim nail

PORTER-CABLE PCC790LA 20V MAX Lithium 18GA Cordless Brad Nailer Kit, Includes Battery and Charger

Key Features:

  • Compressor not required
  • Consistent driving depth
  • Tool-less release lever
  • Improved runtime

Best Cordless Brad Nailer – This cordless brad nailer by Porter-Cable is powered by a rechargeable battery that removes the need for any kind of expensive gas cartridges, hoses, or compressors. The consistent driving depth means you can countersink nails without fail in the right way. The tool-less release lever, depth adjustment, and jam release features make using this product so much easier when compared to other models.

The lithium-ion battery last longer than NiCad and the unit comes with the charger included. The motor is designed in a way that delivers sustained firing power, no matter the materials you choose to use or the weather conditions you are working in. It’s a lightweight model which makes it easy to handle in different positions and has multi-functional dual LED lights to keep your workspace lit so you can easily identify any mistakes and quickly correct.

You also get a three-year limited warranty during which Porter-Cable will repair any faulty materials or defects at no charge to you.

Pros:

  • Longer runtime with rechargeable battery
  • Multiple features for increased efficiency
  • Three-year limited warranty included

Cons:

  • More expensive compared to other models

DEWALT 5-in-1 Multi-tacker and Brad Nailer

Key Features:

  • Load staples from bottom
  • Power adjustment dial
  • Grip is ergonomic
  • Wire guide is integrated

Best Electric Brad Nailer – This Dewalt brad nailer has the capacity to load several types of staples and brad nails, including 18-gauge brad nails, heavy duty, cable, narrow, and 18-gauge headless brad nails. Since this brad nailer can handle multiple types of staples and nails, it can be used for many applications like carpet installation, insulation installation, and even attaching lightweight trim with use of the brad nails.

The loading is user-friendly through the bottom of the tool and the handle is ergonomic so you can keep a good, comfortable grip as you work with the tool.

Pros:

  • Multi-tacker for different applications
  • Bottom-loading for ease of use

Cons:

  • Brad nails are staple size, not nail gun size

SENCO FinishPro® 18MG, 2-1/8″ 18-Gauge Brad Nailer (ProSeries)

Key Features:

  • Made of durable materials
  • Selectable trigger
  • Designed to be oil-free
  • Lightweight product

Best 18 Guage Brad Nailer – This Senco 18-gauge brad nailer is manufactured in China and has a rear exhaust and adjustable depth of drive. The magnesium body makes it ultra-lightweight and since it is oil-free, the product hardly requires any real maintenance. The nose has a mounted LED light that keeps your workspace illuminated.

This brad nailer includes a couple of other features, including a rotatable belt hook, a selectable trigger, and a tool-free depth of drive to make using it super simple.

Pros:

  • Easy to use, even for a novice
  • Oil-free design makes maintenance a breeze
  • Durable, lightweight material for long-term use

Cons:

  • Magazine is plastic instead of metal

WEN 61720 3/4-Inch to 2-Inch 18-Gauge Brad Nailer

Key Features:

  • Fire 3/4-2-inch brad nails
  • 60 to 100 PSI
  • Lightweight, aluminum body with a total weight of three lbs.
  • Magazine holds up to 100 brad nails
  • Includes additional accessories

Most Affordable (Cheaper) Brad Nailer – The 18-gauge brad nailer by WEN has a rubber grip handle to keep you comfortable while you work and operates between 60 to 100 PSI with a 1/4-inch NPT air inlet fitting. The magazine holds up to 100 brad nails and the quick release makes it super easy to clear jams.

This product contains additional items, including oil, two adjustment wrenches, and a carrying case, making it a great buy at a low price. It also comes with a one-year warranty, a phone number you can call for customer support, and a nationwide network of technicians willing to assist should you require additional help.

Pros:

  • Incudes blow mold case made of durable material
  • Comes with oil
  • Affordable product
  • One-year warranty included

Cons: 

  • Simple, basic design with limited use options

3 More Top Rated Brad Nailers:

DEWALT DCN680B 20V Max XR 18 Gauge Brad Nailer

This Dewalt brad nailer drives 18-gauge brad nails which makes it perfect for decorative molding fastening, shoe molding, kitchen crowning, and casing. This product is powered by a 20-volt lithium-ion battery that is sold separately along with the charger. The motor is brushless, maximizing runtime and you are free from having to use gas, a hose, and a compressor. Feel free to handle your jobs with pneumatic features and the mobility of using a cordless product. The micro nose betters your line of sight as you work to improve nail placement precision.

BOSTITCH BTFP12233 Smart Point 18GA Brad Nailer Kit

This BOSTITCH smart point 18-gauge nailer kit is great for use with paneling, upholstery, and cabinetry. You can decide whether to use the countersinking options or the trigger system depending on what your project requires. The Smart Point Technology permits ease of nail placement with a smaller and more precise nose. You do not need to compress the contact trip to actuate the tool and the tool-less jam release piece makes for simple nail removal.

Ryobi P320 Airstrike 18 Volt One+ Lithium Ion Cordless Brad Nailer (Battery Not Included, Power Tool Only)

This Ryobi brad nailer is run by an 18-volt lithium-ion battery that makes it comparable to gasoline-powered brad nailers along with providing the convenience of a power tool that doesn’t require a cord. Whatever your nailing job, whether at work or home, you can accomplish it with the P320 model. One single charge will deliver enough power to fire up to 700 nails that are up to 50 mm long. There is no need for additional tools so long as you adjust your depth of drive with the onboard dial. The LED lighting that is built-in will help keep your area of focus visible, no matter how the lighting shifts, whether you are working indoors or outdoors. This brad nailer will have your back when you need it to.

Our 2019 Brad Nailer Buying Guide

  • Control of Nail Modes – Being able to choose just how you want to drive a nail is probably the most attractive feature of top nailers. There are two main nailing modes: 1) bump/contact and 2) sequential. The bumping mode is designed for speed and increased efficiency, while the sequential mode was designed with safety in mind. When using the bump/contact mode, you are required to pull or squeeze the trigger and with each bump, a nail is driven into your workpiece. You can work as quickly as desired and fire off those nails efficiently to complete work quickly. If you are using the sequential mode, you are required to compress the nose on the material you are going to be driving the nail into and with the nose feeling resistance, you pull the trigger for a nail to be fired. In this mode, if the nose is still feeling resistance, you will be unable to fire another nail if you attempt to pull the trigger again. It is a slower mode, but it is significantly more secure.
  • Design of the Nose – This is the aspect of the brad nailer that actually makes contact with the material you are working with – it’s basically the tip of the nailer. The design of the nose will directly affect just how well you can sink nails into place. If the nose is narrow, for example, your nail driving will become more accurate because you will have access to tighter spaces.
  • Anti-Dry Fire – While this is not a must-have feature, it does come in handy because what it does is prevent the brad nailer from being able to fire if the magazine is empty. When an empty brad nailer fires, it’s called a dry fire. This causes the piston that goes down to leave a mark on the piece of material you are working on, which if a delicate piece, could completely ruin your project. So, you may want to consider safeguarding against this mistake.
  • Is the Jam Release Tool-Less? You could have the best brad nailer out there but it won’t eliminate the possibility of it becoming jammed up one day. If and when this happens, you will want to be sure to clear that jam quickly so you can get on with your project. Check for a tool-less jam release feature on the models you are considering so that your tool comes equipped with a nail clearing system that works quickly and effectively and reduces your pause-to-fix time.
  • Adjustment of Depth – This feature should be found in any brad nailer you purchase – it’s too important. Depending on what size brads you are using and the depth of your workpiece, you may need to adjust how deeply your nailer sinks into the material as you work. Usually this adjustment feature appears as a wheel or a dial somewhere close to the nose of the nailer. With a simple turn, you can either reduce or increase the depth you reach once the nail fires into the piece.
  • Exhaust Air Control – Pneumatic brad nailers are powered via compressed air. When fired, the air pushes through the nailers and delivers power that gets the nail into your material. That compressed air needs to find its way out of the tool following firing, and that’s where the exhaust comes in. The air must first be released prior to being able to fire a second time. Ideally, you want this exhaust to be situated at the rear part of the tool and not near the front. This will keep your working areas neat and clear of anything expelled through the exhaust. Also, the exhaust should be moveable so that if it is facing you, you can turn it away to blow past you and your workpiece and your face can remain free of any of the contaminants the exhaust is pushing out.
  • Ergonomic Handling – You may engage in a project with your brad nailer that requires long hours. If tend to sweat during hours of work, you will probably want to opt for a rubber handle or wrap around the handle to give you better gripping power even as you sweat over long hours using the tool. Same for the trigger. If there’s moisture, you want rubber. If your hand or finger is slipping all over the place, the pace of your work will be greatly affected so be sure to choose wisely.

FAQ

  • What is a Brad Nailer used for? Brad nailers are tools specifically designed to be used with nails that have a thinner gauge called “brad” nails. They are used to attach lightweight trim like when installing chair rails, door and window casings, or even installing baseboards. They can also be used when working with door frames and crown molding – they are great if you are working in a tight space, as the 15-gauge nails can reach the right angle. The nails are thin, you do not need to use putty to cover up any holes.
  • How to load a brad nailer? Before beginning to load a brad nailer, first read through the instructions of the specific model you are working with. Some brad nailers have bottom-loading magazines so you will need to know where to start before actually loading your brad nailer. Some models may also require that the air hose be connected prior to loading and some may require disconnection – read first, load later. Once you know what you need to do to prepare for loading, depress the release and slide the magazine back to reveal the holding space. Test out the space by making sure the head of your brad nail fits into one of the available slots. You will notice the magazine has grooves that accommodate different sized brad nails. Load as many nails as you can fit within the space but be careful not to overload the magazine. Once everything is loaded, go ahead and slide the magazine back to close until you hear it click or snap back into place.
  • What is an 18-gauge brad nailer used for? 18-gauge nails are thinner in cross section and the hole they leave is super tiny and much less likely to split any narrow working spaces like trim or molding so they are perfect to use on cove moldings or on baseboards.

Conclusion

Having made the right choice for your specific brad nailer, whether it will be used primarily around the house or at a job site, you will get to enjoy this relatively inexpensive add-on to your toolset because it is a gift to yourself (or another) that will keep on giving. It will be there through the test of time, especially if you maintain it with care, and you will be endlessly appreciative of the capabilities it carries with it to make your life just that much easier with all the work you will use it to complete. More than likely, you will set the trend and your friends and neighbors will catch on that this particular little tool is a lifesaver and one of those must-own items for a clever homeowner who needs to get things done but will do them creatively and efficiently. We hope this guide has given you just enough to consider so you can get out there and choose the best brad nailer for your needs.

 

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