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Brad Nailer vs Pin Nailer: The Major Takeaways

brad nailer vs pin nailer
Written by Willie Osgood
Last Update: May 8, 2023

When it comes to woodwork –most times, finishing requires a lot of effort and attention. Everyone wants a product that is uniquely awesome and appealing to the eyes.

Irrespective of your current demand, be it renovation, creating a cabin from scratch, or carrying out any form of activities on trims, the place of an excellent finish nailer cannot be compromised. But in most cases, you will need to make a selection between brad nailer and pin. Although, having both tools in a workshop can be a pretty good idea. However, there are times when you have limited budget plan.

The choice you make between brad nailer vs pin nailer will influence the nature of the project, and what they can be used for. Though, sound knowledge of the capacity of both tools can help you make the right decision.

No one wants to fill holes when carrying out any form of finishing activities when working on coffee tables, cabinets or any type of woodworking projects. But a proper filling is important if you want to create an appealing appearance.

What is a Pin Nailer?

If you don’t like to take out time to fill up nail holes, then we recommend the use of a pin nailer when it comes to finishing carpentry.

As the name goes, pin nailer. The tool is designed to drive in headless thin nails or pins.

Most pin nailers will make use of pins that 1″ long, but in most cases –the use of models that are designed with high ends is possible.

Using a pin nail offers no form of resistance. And for more durability and strength, we recommend using the nails with adhesive (wood glue).

There are tons of projects in which the use of pin nailer are useful. Most times, they appear best when creating a connection between trim pieces that are delicate, thin veneers, and when carrying out any activities on a small piece of furniture trim.

Pin Nailer: Pros & Cons


  • No visible holes

Most headless nails don’t create visible holes on surfaces due to their sizes. If you intend to use varnish, paint, or stain on a workpiece, then there won’t be a need to fill up surfaces, and this can save your time, effort, and resources.

  • Doesn’t split wood

The Size of a pin nail cannot split a workpiece. When working with an averaged sized piece, the brad nail can lead to breaks on the wood surface. On the other hand, if you are using a small pin nailer, then there is no need to worry about a broken workpiece.

  • Suitable for gentle trim pieces

Using a 23 sized gauge nail will be recommended when carrying out an activity that involves the use of delicate pieces that can split easily. These Size of the pin will rarely split your workpiece irrespective of how little or fragile the piece is, to this effect the nailer is often considered as the right choice when carrying out any activity on veneers.


  • Slight power for holding

Most times, the pin nailer doesn’t provide enough holding power. This means that relying on a pin nail won’t create enough durability for any job. To accomplish a task, you will need to use adhesives (wood glue). When compared to the brad nail, the pin nails are headless; this factor also influences their holding power.

  • Not versatile

Most times, the pin nail is used to carry out a few responsibilities in the wood workshop.

What is a Brad Nailer?

The brad nailer is one of those tools you have around you whenever you are carrying out any form of finishing. The device appears to be very versatile for both professionals and beginners.

The brad nail is designed in different sizes that range within 3/8 to 2 inches and are meant for various applications. This is one of the primary reasons why the nailer is versatile.

Away from carpentry finish, the tool can also be used for base boarding, similar to that of 16 gauge. This task seems impossible when using a pin nail.

Brad nailers, when compared to pin nailer, have more versatility in use, and the tool can be used from different trim work, cabinetry finishing, and crown molding.

Brad Nailer: Pros & Cons


  • Holding power

Brad 18 gauge nailer provides nails with enough durability, although when the strength is compared with 15 gauge nails, the force may differ a bit. The hold from a baseboard results from the power produced by the brad nailer.

  • Versatile for different project

Its versatility makes it possible to cover a high range of projects. There are always tasks that call for the use of brad nailers, irrespective of the project. Be it a crown molding, home improvement, or construction cabinets, unlike a pin nailer that appears a bit handy whenever you are handling tiny or thin materials.

  • Recommend for base-boarding

Most people prefer the use of brad nailer when it comes to this woodwork projects (base-boarding). One of its significant advantages is it holding power.


  • Visible holes

Though the holes created by the tool is not too large, but when compared to the hole created by the pin nail, the brad holes appear a little bit more visible. This makes it necessary for you to fill the gaps whenever you intend to paint or stain the wood.

  • Split workpiece

If you are working on thin veneers, small trim, and other soft material, using a brad nail might not be a suitable option due to the level force it produces, which may appear a bit hard when compared to the strength of thin veneers or trim.

  • Cracks on wood

When using an 18 nailer, or a different nail size, perilous woods have a higher chance of been cracked.

Unique Features of Pin Nailers

Now let’s take a look at some of the benefits of using a pin nailer.

  • Secure Nailer Holes

23 gauge is a slim headless nailer that is durable enough to create enough stability without creating nail holes.

If you are creating an outline to apply varnish, stain, or paint on a workpiece, you can save more resources and time, since you don’t have to go about filling the nail holes.

  • Small Size with Strong Bonding power

The Size of a pin nailer can be an additional advantage. Although, for most 18 gauge – the wood won’t get broken within the entire work period. If you are using a pin nailer, then the need for a furniture trim will be of no effect.

  • Easy Opening

When carrying out a project with a trim piece, the wood has lesser degrees of becoming cracked, irrespective of how feeble or small it is.

Unique Features of Brad Nailers

  • Enough Holding Power

You can use the 18-gauge brad nailer to finish a workpiece that requires some holding power. Though, this feature may not be common in most substantial tools or 15-gauge nailers.

  • Versatility

The brad nailer is almost usable in any project. In most cases, you can have projects that require the use of a brad nailer regardless of what the task is. It could be home improvement, crown molding, or building a cabinet from scratch. This major feature is lacking in pin nailers since they are used mostly on thin or small substances.

  • For Smooth Carpentry

When base-boarding, you can use a brad nailer to get a smooth carpentry. The tool is useful in base boarding due to the power it used when carrying out a function.

Brad Nailer vs Pin Nailer: Which One Is Better?

Difference Between Brad Nailers and Pin Nailers

When compared to the pin nailer, the brad nailer has less functions. Although the tool is built with a higher consistency and cohesion force. This is one of the reasons why the device can be used to add frame made from plywood and hardwood.

The tool supplies enough strength that can be used to connect or hold joints firmly. Similarly to the force of adhesion that results from a glue. You can easily bend the nail and change its direction while working on a project.

Conversely, Pin nailers are tools used for more delicate projects like base and casing, batten, and board wainscoting or beadboard. You can easily use the 18-gauge nailer, particularly if you intend to hold a frame tightly.


Finish carpentry takes a bit of effort and time; this is why it is crucial to employ the right tool that’s also safe. And when it comes to choosing between brad and a pin nailer, we recommend going for what the current moment demands.

Although most people find the use of brad nailer more convenient due to its level of versatility and the fact that the tool is used for more than finish carpentry.

The brad nailer has more power. This is also an important factor to have in mind since durability is needed for most woodwork.

If you don’t want to fill up nail holes with wood putty, or you work with thin veneer, delicate trim or need a hold woods together while the glue applied on it dries up. Going for a pin nailer can be a perfect idea.

On the other hand, if you have the resource of affording both tools, then go for it. This is because you will need each tool in different work scenarios.


Q. 1: Will a brad nailer shoot pin nails?

Ans: The pin nailer tool is small in sze –and most times, it is used to finish woodwork. Its primary function is to shoot tiny 23 gauge nails that are headless. A brad nailer can shoot 18 gauge nails, and the nails are usually designed with different head attachments

Q. 2: What is a pin nail used for?

Ans: Generally, most pin nailers are suitable for delicate trim pieces, super-thin veneers, tiny furniture trim, in situations where the use of large guns can split the entire wood. Brad nailers are designed to be versatile and can also be used to carry out all forms of trim projects like window/door wainscoting and casings.

Q. 3: What kind of nail gun do I need?

Ans: There are varieties of guns out there, and each of these guns is used to carry out unique functions.

  • The framing nailer: is used for most heavy-duty jobs
  • The pain nailer: is pretty similar to mini nail guns
  • Roofing Nailer
  • Finish Nailer
  • Pin Nailer
  • Siding Nailer
  • Staple Gun
  • Brad Nailer
  • Staple Gun

Q. 4: Can you use 18 gauge nails for baseboards?

Ans: Both tools are used in baseboard installation, window and door casing, door frame, crown molding, chair rail. One of the significant advantages of a 15 gauge is its ability to collated within an angle, and this creates room for the nailer’s nose to get in touch with spaces that are a bit tighter than normal. Brad nailers are designed to use 18 gauge nails that are 1-2 inches in length

About the author

Willie Osgood

An Avid Metalworker

Willie doesn’t really consider himself an artist, rather a craftsman involved in practical trades. Yet, most of his projects require him to make interesting and fine objects. Being the eldest son of a carpenter, his background is 100 percent rooted in crafting. He found the art of blacksmithing quite appealing since his teenage years… that fire, the sound of swinging hammers, and those long and shiny blades that came out as a finished product. Soon he literally became obsessed with metal – the way it moved, worked, and changed when heated or cooled.

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