Speed, precision, and power are one of the hallmarks of an excellent woodworker, and these are all qualities that are obtainable with a top-tier nail gun. Simply put, a nail gun (or a nailer) is a hand tool used to drive nails into wood or any other suitable material. Using nailers is a less labour-intensive method of carrying out woodwork operations, and even better, you get to incorporate finesse into your work.
In today’s article, we’ve picked eight of what we feel to be the best nailing tools out there, and reviewed each one of them to highlight their strengths and weakness, and help you make a guided decision on the right partner for your next project.
Makita XNB02Z Straight Finish Nailer
● Weight: 8.4 pounds
PORTER-CABLE PCC790LA MAX Cordless Brad Nailer Kit
● Weight: 5.9 pounds
KIMO 9418A Cordless Brad Nailer/Stapler Kit
● Weight: 6.2 pounds
BOSTITCH BT1855K Brad Nail Gun
● Weight: 2.7 pounds
● Weight: 2.65 pounds
Metabo HPT Brad Nailer
● Weight: 2.2 pounds
TACKLIFE Pneumatic 18GA 2-in-1 Brad Nailer
● Weight: 2.4 pounds
CRAFTSMAN V20 Cordless Brad Nailer Kit
● Weight: 5.3 pounds
The first item on our list of the best nailers to use for your DIY woodwork projects is none other than Makita’s XNB02Z straight finish nailer, which is one of the many offerings in the Makita range of power tools.
When it comes to nail guns, one factor you can’t afford to compromise on is the handle grip, and the Makita nail gun does well in this aspect. This finish nailer has a grip that fits in nicely with one’s hand, and a rubber/plastic casing makes it comfortable to hold. The gun’s narrow nose design makes it easy to nail in tight spots, and with its compact center height, you can view the work area without obstruction.
The Makita XNB02Z tool is a cordless brad nailer, and it is powered by a 5Ah battery, which according to Makita, can drive up to 1000 16-gauge straight finish nails on a single charge. And the gun’s magazine holds up to 110 nails at once, and the lengths of these nails range from 1” to 2½”. Also, this cordless nail gun weighs 8.4 pounds with the battery, which makes it one of the heaviest products on this list.
With this nail gun, you can fire nails one at a time or bump fire multiple nails in succession. And you can choose between either method with the aid of a conveniently placed 2-mode selector switch. The gun’s anti-dry fire mechanism helps prevent you from driving blanks, and a tool-less nose design makes fast nail extraction possible.
Additional features of this product include LED light for illumination in dark places, a trigger-lock, rubber bumpers, tool-less depth adjustment, and many more.
Cordless design offers great mobility and is easy to use
Bigger than most other nail guns
Requires little maintenance
Depth setting can be tricky to adjust
Battery lasts for a while before needing to recharge
Easy to use
Offers anti-blank protection
Porter-Cable are a household name when it comes to the production of power tools, and the 20V MAX cordless nail gun, which is undoubtedly one of the best brad nailers out there, is another one of their outstanding products. A compact, ergonomic tool design is one of the hallmarks of this Porter-Cable brad nailer. And the fact that you won’t need an external air hose or gas compressor makes it easier to use.
This Porter cable nail gun runs on a 20V MAX battery, and as stated above, it works without needing to use air compressors or gas cartridges. This power tool fires 18-gauge nails with sizes ranging from 5/8” to 2”, and it comes with a special motor design that provides consistent nail firing power, regardless of battery strength. Porter-Cable claims that this 18-gauge brad nailer can fire up to 1300 nails on a single charge, and the magazine is designed to hold 100 nails at full capacity.
The Porter-Cable PCC790LA features an adjustment wheel plus a display window, that makes it easy to set and amend firing depth. The jam release is also tool-free, but you have to remove the battery to access the release lever. Multifunctional LED dual lights on the gun make it easier to see the work area, and also notify you of problems with the machine.
Works well without an air compressor
Battery runs down fast
Relatively quiet operation
Battery weakening doesn’t impact negatively on firing power
Has LED lights
Tool-less jam release and depth adjustment
The KIMO 9418A is one of the most versatile, and feature-packed brad nailers you could lay your hands on, with it being adept at several woodworking tasks, and at the same time, not compromising on core performance.
The 9481A’s narrow body design makes it adept at nailing brads in tight corners, and it is equally as good at stapling wood. This staple gun electric nailer’s ergonomic build and cordless design makes it easy to manoeuvre, and with a weight of 5 pounds (without the battery), it is one of the lighter models on our list.
The KIMO nail gun runs on a juicy 20V battery, coupled with a patented air cylinder that is suitable for various finish work, trimming, and other carpentry work on light materials. The nailer’s 2-in-1 bottom load magazine style holds 100 pieces of 18-gauge brad nails or ¼” staples at maximum capacity, and you can fire up to 1400 brad nails on a single charge.
The dual mode switch on this battery nail gun makes it easy to switch between the sequential firing mode for punching in one nail at a time, and the contact-actuation method of bump-firing several brads, at a speed of 80 nails/min. Furthermore, the rotation knob that is conveniently located on top of the gun makes it easy to adjust firing depth according to the nature of the material being worked on.
Additional features of the KIMO 9481A brad nailer includes LED lights that shine on the work area, and serve as malfunction and power indicators. You also get 1 fast charger, 700 pieces of 18-gauge brad nails and 300 18-gauge crown staples with the product package.
Cordless design means you can use anywhere
Tends to jam easily
Works well as a nailer and a stapler
Cleaning jams requires the use of a wrench
Easy to use
Easy depth adjustment
Good variety of fastener lengths
With a weight of 2.7 pounds, the Bostitch brad nailer is one of the lightest products on this list, and its cordless design, coupled with an over-molded grip are features you’ll enjoy using. Also, the nailer’s small, pointed nose design ensures you’ll see exactly where you’re nailing.
The Bostitch BT1855K is a pneumatic roofing nail gun that punches brads with power from compressed air. One feature found in the Bostitch nail gun that is not common among most other air nailing tools out there, is the innovative air inlet system that filters air entering the compressor to protect the nailer’s motor. And the dial-a-depth tool on the nailer enables quick setting of fasteners to convenient depths for accurate countersinking.
The gun’s magazine, with a maximum nail capacity of 100, is fairly-sized. And while the gauge rating is 18A, as with most other brad nailers on this list, the gun can punch 2⅛” long brad nails which is larger than what is obtainable with most of the other products. The low nail lockout feature on the Bostitch nail gun helps prevent against blank firing, and the selectable trigger makes it easy to switch from sequential to contact operation.
Excellent build quality
Blank-fire protection often fails
The gun frequently jams
Precise nailing thanks to nose design
Dual nail firing mode
DEWALT products need little to no introduction, as the industry giants have been a popular pick among experts and casual users alike for years. And their long-lasting, and highly durable 18-gauge brad nailer kit is a great choice for a variety of woodworking tasks.
The Dewalt brad nailer is crafted from durable and lightweight Magnesium material, with the integrated rubber handle design providing a comfortable grip for users. The tool design also features a rear exhaust system that helps blow off contaminants, and keep the work area clear.
The Dewalt nail gun is a pneumatic device, meaning that it gets the power to drive nails from compressed air from a compressor, with operating pressure ranging between 70 to 120PSI. However, the product package doesn’t contain this compressor, and users will need to purchase it separately. The air nail gun operates on a single sequential firing mode only, and this is sufficient to get most nailing tasks, with size 5/8” to 2” brads, done on time.
Both the jam release, and depth-of-drive adjustment systems of this Dewalt nail gun are tool-free, and the adjustable belt hook is useful for keeping the tool near you. And even better, you get an attractive 3-year limited warranty package from Dewalt upon purchase of this product.
You might experience issues with the magazine locking mechanism
Easy to handle and use
Only works on single firing mode
Requires little to no maintenance
If you’re operating on a strict budget, yet desire a quality product with which you can comfortably carry out most precision nailing operations, then the Metabo HPT (formerly known as Hitachi) brad nailer should be on top of your shopping list.
This brad nailer features a compact aluminium build that makes it easy to get in, and work tight spaces. And a weight of just 2.2 pounds makes the HPT nailer the lightest option on our list. Regardless, the HPT’s relatively small size doesn’t mean it’s not suitably equipped to handle heavy-duty cutting tasks, and it will conveniently punch in 2-inch long brad nails with enough power.
The Metabo nailer is a pneumatic device that runs on compressed air, and the staple air gun supports both bump and contact fire modes. The nailer’s magazine is designed to be side-loading, and it holds 100 nails at maximum capacity. Furthermore, the nailer features a 360° adjustable exhaust, and a no-mar tip intended to protect the work surface from scratches.
It is affordable
No protection against blank firing
Tool-free jam clearing and depth adjustment
Tends to create holes that are bigger than the nail
Reload indicator alerts users when they are running out of nails
Dual firing modes
The second dual purpose nail gun on our list of top nailers, the TACKLIFE pneumatic, is a versatile tool suitably equipped to handle punching of brad nails for different purposes, as well as for stapling wood pieces.
This brad nailer’s ergonomic build includes features such as an anti-slip rubber grip, a 360-degree exhaust pipe with which you can control the direction of dust, and a safe trigger device located within easy reach. The tool’s body itself is crafted from durable heat-treated aluminium material, and weighs just 2.4 pounds, which should prove easy for most people to handle.
The TACKLIFE staple air gun punches 18-gauge brad nails with power gotten from air stored in a compressor, but this unit has to be purchased separately from the nailer. And apart from nailing, this product also works as a wood stapler with crown staples ranging from 5/8”to 1-5/8" in size. The nailer’s high capacity magazine can hold 100 nails at once, and working air pressure of between 70-100PSI generates enough power to punch nails.
Other features you stand to enjoy with this brad nailer include the ability to adjust nailing depth, and fix jams without tools, a reload indicator that shows when the magazine is running low on nails, and a quick release mechanism for easy removal of bad nails.
Trigger is easy to push
Needs to be oiled before using
Indicator lets you know when it’s time to reload
Instructions manual is not very helpful
Light and easy to operate
The final product on our list of the top 8 nailing tools for your various woodwork projects is the CMCN618C1 V20 electric brad nailer kit from the reputable CRAFTSMAN tools brand.
The V20 gun features a lightweight and optimised build that delivers consistent results across various woodworking tasks, and in different conditions. The nail gun’s handle is contoured for a firm grip, and its cordless build makes it portable and easy to use anywhere.
The CRATSMAN electric nail gun runs on a 20V battery, as inferred by its name, and this, along with a charger is included in the product package; This eliminates the need for compressors, hoses or costly gas cartridges. The gun’s magazine loads via the bottom-load system, and you can equip up to 100 nails at a go.
Additional features of this product include a no-mar pad, trigger lock-off system, a belt/rafter hook, and as with most other products on this list, tool-free jam clearance and depth adjustment.
Not the lightest product to handle
Easy to adjust nailing depth
No support for bump firing
Powerful and accurate nailing
Sizeable mag capacity
No-mar pad helps keep work surface scratch-free
Frequently Asked Questions
The choice between a brad nailer and a finish nailer depends entirely on the woodworking project you intend carrying out with your tool and the nail gauge. For smaller holes and woodworking projects that require delicacy, a brad nailer would do just fine, while the finish nailer is intended to handle tougher tasks. Also, brad nailers work best with 18 gauge nails, while the finishing nail gun is best suited for the bigger 15 or 16 gauge nails.
The simple answer to this is No. Brad nails are made from thin 18-gauge wire, and would not fit in the hole of the finishing nail gun. Also, trying to fit in brad nails in a finish nailer could lead to damage of the equipment.
Yes, brad nails have heads. However, this head is typically smaller than usual, and is only slightly larger in diameter than the body of the nail itself.
For a successful woodworking operation, you should use a brad nail that is at least, three times longer than the thickness of the material you’re working on. This is to ensure the nail will securely fasten such material.
You can use a hammer to drive in brad nails, however, this requires extreme accuracy, patience, and using just the right amount of force. However, more times than not, brad nails end up bending when hammered, hence why a nail gun is important.
As with every piece of metal out there, galvanised brad nails will eventually rust, when constantly exposed to harsh weather conditions. To prevent rust, use brad nails made from type 304 stainless steel in your construction.
There you have it! A comprehensive list and review of what we consider to be the top nail gun products available on the market today. And whether you want to craft a delicate piece of upholstery or nail roofing sheets firmly in place, either of the products on our list would suffice.
A keen observer would notice that the products listed in today’s review are either brad or finish nailers compatible with nail gauge sizes 15, 16, 18 or 21. If, however, you need to punch a thinner nails of gauge size 23, then you would be better off opting for a pin nailer.