In many carpentry projects, it’s necessary to use special tools to give the delicate finishing touches to a wooden piece. Elements such as wood moldings and trims can easily break if you nail them with excessive force.
Usually, nailers are more precise and less destructive than hammers. The force application point is focused on the nail and not on the wood.
However, the force that these pneumatic tools apply may be too much for fragile wooden elements. In these cases, it’s better to use a brad nailer. If you’ve never heard of them, don’t worry. Today, we’ll explain you in detail all the different uses for brad nailer.
What Are Brad Nailers Used For?
Brad nailers are tools designed to nail small and fragile wooden elements like moldings and trims. They’re very similar to finish nailers, but they have a smaller size. They fire brads to wood using air pressure or electricity.
Brads are small and thin nails without heads, made from 18-gauge steel wire. Their length may vary between 0.625-2 inches. Brads are more discreet than common nails and don’t leave large holes on the surface. Therefore, they’re perfect for installing decorative pieces without affecting aesthetics.
Things You Can Do with Your Brad Nailer
1. Household activities
The small size of brads allows you to use them on the wooden decorative elements of your home. So, you can use a brad nailer to repair your furniture, install baseboards, nailing moldings to cabinets and other activities.
You can also use a brad nailer to make crafts, like creating your own frames to exhibit your photos and paintings. Depending on your circumstances, you can use a pneumatic or electric model.
If you’re going to work away from home or have a workshop in your garage, it’s better to use a pneumatic model. They provide more power and long hours of continuous use.
On the other hand, if you’re going to work inside your home, you need something more portable like an electric model. However, the time you have is limited before the batteries discharge completely.
2. Nailing trims and moldings
Trims and moldings are small pieces of wood joined to the borders of furniture and cabinets as decorative elements. Generally, these pieces are very fragile and can break easily. So, you can’t use hammers or big nails to install them.
Brad nailers are perfect to do this,because they don’t apply as much force as finish nailers, protecting the wood.
3. Nailing baseboards
Many people often use finish nailers to install baseboards. But after work, they should apply wood filler to hide the holes. Brad nailers are much more convenient for these cases because they don’t leave big holes on the surface.
Brads are imperceptible to the naked eye, so you won’t have to use fillers to improve the aesthetics of your baseboards.
4. Installing crown moldings
Crown moldings serve to improve the aesthetics of various elements. You can see them on the upper edges of walls, furniture and cabinets. These elements have many curves, making difficult to set a nail using a hammer.
In the market you can find thin and long brads that you can fire between the curve edges to set your decorative pieces. For this purpose you can use brads of 2 and 0.75 inches.
5. Making crafts without glue
Most carpenters use glue to manufacture delicate wooden crafts like toys, wall clocks, birdhouses, ornaments and scale models. However, it’s a fact that nails are much more efficient than glue to keep joined different wooden pieces.
Brad nailers are perfect for this kind of work. Brads are so small and leave no visible marks on the wood. So, you won’t waste your time filling holes. Also, the final piece will be more stable and won’t break apart if it accidentally falls to the floor.
6. Repair broken wood
You can use brad nailers to repair broken wooden pieces, such as boards, floorboards and similar. You can also use them to close cracks between two pieces of wood. Brads are so small that nobody won’t notice the difference. In these cases, it’s advisable to apply wood filler in the crack to obtain an even and imperfections free surface.
7. Nailing wooden panels
Wooden panels are commonly used to cover floors, walls and ceilings. They look very elegant and raise the aesthetic value of any property. Most of the time, of the different types of nail guns, people use finish nailers to install them. However, the holes on the panels look ugly.
Brads are much more discreet. They’re the best for installing floor boards, because they don’t leave dangerous bumps on the surface.
8. Installing door and window casings
Casings are sculpted wooden boards that go around doors and windows to improve their aesthetics. You can use a brad nailer to attach them to the walls without problems. In these cases, it’s advisable to use 2-inch brads for better penetration. Set as many brads as you need to keep the casings in place.
9. Temporarily holding two wood pieces
In some cases, it’s more convenient to use glue than nails. For example, when working with dovetail joints. However, you can use a brad nailer to temporarily set the wooden pieces in place until the glue dries. After that, you can remove the brads. The holes are barely visible to the naked eye, so you won’t have to use wood filler.
Setting curved wooden pieces with woodworking clamps may be difficult sometimes. However, the shape of the piece isn’t an obstacle for brads.
10. Fixing old wooden objects
Over time, wood loses its natural resistance. Therefore, you shouldn’t use a hammer to repair your wooden antiques. In these cases, it’s better to use a brad nailer. These tools focus the force on the brad and not on the wood.
Finish nailers aren’t recommended to repair antiques because they exert too much force on the wood.
11. Make your own furniture
If you’re a woodworking enthusiast, you can make plans to build your own furniture. Take a piece of paper and start making your own design. Then cut the pieces of wood to the required dimensions and join them together using a brad nailer.
Brad nailers are the best for making decorative pieces from scratch. They don’t affect the aesthetics of the piece and you don’t need to use wood fillers after working with them.
12. Firing nails in angled position
Most brad nailers are designed to fire nails in straight position. However, when you’re working in tight spaces, it’s virtually impossible to use these tools. However, there are also angled models that allow you to fire a nail at 45 degrees.
These tools are the best for working around furniture corners and set miter joints together.
13. Setting ends of wooden pieces in place
Common nails tend to break the ends of wooden pieces. So, it isn’t recommended to use a finish nailer too close to the edges. On the other hand, brads are thin and small enough to be set near borders without risk.
You can fire a brad at 0.125 inches from the edges without breaking the wood. Therefore, they’re the best tools to use in too precise jobs.
The using method of pneumatic and electric brad nailers is quite similar. However, if you’re using a pneumatic tool, you’ll have to follow some previous steps before getting started. Bellow, you’ll find a step-by-step guide of how to use a pneumatic brad nailer:
First of all, connect the air output hose from the air compressor to the air inlet of your brad nailer.
Then, turn on the compressor and set the pressure level between 90-120 lbs. Check out the pressure requirements of your tool at this point.
After that, fill the magazine of your brad nailer with new brads if needed.
Hold the nail output nose of the brad nailer straight on the surface. Make sure to apply enough pressure to release the safety device that blocks the trigger.
Finally, push the trigger to set the brad in place.
Unless you’re using an angled brad nailer, you must always fire the brads in straight position for maximum penetration.
If you’re working with too thin wooden boards, stay away from the edges to avoid splitting. Some wood types are more flexible and resistant, allowing you to work near the edges. However, if the wood is too hard, it’s better not to do so.
If the brad doesn’t fully penetrate the wood, don’t try to nail it with a hammer. Brads tend to bend very easily. In these cases, it’s better to remove the remaining end with side cutting pliers.
Certainly, brad nailers are much more versatile than finish or framing nailers. When a wood piece is too delicate to withstand excessive force, it’s better to use one of these to get the job done. Brads are small, thin and imperceptible to the naked eyed. In addition, they don’t leave ugly holes in the wood like regular nails.
Virtually, there’s nothing you can’t do with a brad nailer. You can use it on light and heavy duties and get excellent results in both cases. You can even repair wooden antiques with them, without risk of ruining the wood. So, now that you know all uses for brad nailer, it’s your turn to get to work.
Brent lives in Wisconsin and is a woodworker, custom cabinetmaker, interior consultant, and a freelance writer who got the opportunity to write several magazine articles for different publications on home … Read More