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Using the right finishing tool for your carpentry work can make all the difference, and this is why we have created this brad nailer vs pin nailer comparison.
You might have heard of both of these nail guns, but you aren’t too sure what the difference is.
Luckily we are going to tell you everything you need to know. You’ll find out what the difference between a brad nailer and a pin nailer is, the features of both tools, and we’ll also show you the best models to buy for each one.
Let’s get right into it and look at the differences between these tools.
Main Differences Between Brad Nailer vs Pin Nailer
The main differences between a brad nailer vs nailer are:
- Brad Nailers will leave nail holes, whereas Pin Nailers won’t leave nail holes in wood
- Brad Nailers offer more holding power, whereas Pin Nailers do not
- Brad Nailers can cause wood to split, whereas Pin Nailers won’t split thin pieces of wood
- Brad Nailers have better versatility, whereas Pin Nailers are quite limited in what they can do
Exploring Brad Nail and Pin Nailer features
There are some features that both of these tools have in common, and there are also similarities in what you should look out for before buying one.
Driving nails into wood
Even though you will need to use these two nail guns for different purposes, they do have some things in common. One of which is that they are designed to finish up woodworking jobs.
They are both designed to put nails in wood without leaving large holes. We’ll see later on the difference in the size and type of nails that these tools use, but that is the primary objective.
This can either be permanent to complete a job, or it can even be used as a temporary holding measure.
Creating aesthetically pleasing woodwork
Aside from the practical aspect of using either of these nail guns, they also help to create an overall neatly finished job too.
Regardless of whether you are an avid DIYer or just a casual woodworking hobbyist, you will want your projects to look good at the end.
Both of these tools are designed to create a polished and professional finish. This could be working on cabinets, trims, or really any kind of woodwork that you want to look neat and tidy.
It won’t work on thicker wood.
Both a brad nailer and a pin nailer can be quite powerful, and they do a good job of driving nails into the wood without splintering it – although pin nailers are better at this.
However, they will struggle with certain types of thicker and harder wood as they don’t have the power. This includes wood such as MDF and plywood. If you do need a nailer for these types of woods, it would be best to look into a finish nailer for this job.
Taking the right safety precautions when using these two nail guns is something else that they have in common.
You will need to invest in some adequate safety gear if you do not have this already. This includes things such as safety goggles and impenetrable gloves. Using these at the same time as the nail guns will ensure any mishaps are kept to a minimum, and injuries can be avoided as much as they can.
There isn’t a big difference in the cost between these two types of nail guns.
You will be able to find brad nailers and pin nailers in and around the same price as each other. Obviously, you will find expensive models and cheaper models; however, there isn’t a massive discrepancy in the pricing structure with these tools.
Features unique to Pin Nailers
It doesn’t leave visible nail holes.
One of the big features that pin nailers have is that they don’t leave any visible nail holes behind. These tools use 23-gauge nails, and they are pretty thin.
This means that there shouldn’t be any visible holes. This is great if you are only using the nail as a temporary holding measure because you won’t need to fill it before you paint or varnish the surface.
Won’t split the wood
As the nails are so thin with a pin nailer, the likelihood of you splitting the wood is very low. Brad nailers often don’t split wood either. However, it is more likely to happen with a brad nailer than a pin nailer.
So, if you are working on particularly thin pieces of wood, a pin nailer is the better option for these intricate jobs.
Not so much a ‘feature’ and more of a downside, a pin nailer isn’t that versatile. While it does a good job at what it is designed for – driving in thin nails to softwood – it doesn’t do much beyond that.
There isn’t a whole lot more you will use this nail gun for other than working with thin, delicate, and intricate pieces of wood. You might find you don’t use the tool very often, but it certainly comes in handy when you do need it.
Features unique to Brad Nailers
Brad nailers have more power than pin nailers, and they use 18 gauge nails.
This gives a significant boost in holding power and is very useful if you are working on larger pieces of wood. A brad nailer is an ideal tool for skirting boards as the holding power is pretty good and can almost be on par with 16 or even 15 gauge nails.
You will get more versatility with a brad nailer.
The tool can be used in a variety of different situations, from building cabinets, adding skirting boards, or just holding two larger pieces of wood together. Unlike a pin nailer, which is generally only used in very specific circumstances, you will likely use a brad nailer more often.
Can leave visible nail holes
Unlike a pin nailer that drives in thin nails, a brad nailer can leave visible nail holes in the wood.
The holes won’t be as large as if you are using 15 or even 16-gauge nailers, but they will still be noticeable. This means you’ll need to fill these holes before you move onto the finish of painting or varnishing the surface, so you get the best aesthetic at the end.
Comparing Brad Nailer and Pin Nailer pricing
We touched on the cost of these two tools above, and you shouldn’t find a particularly big difference in the pricing structure of these two tools.
Like all power tools and nail guns, you’ll find cheaper models and more expensive tools but the difference in quality compared to the price isn’t big. Create a budget, think about what you want to spend, and stick to it as much as possible.
Pros and Cons
- Provides good holding power for different types of wood
- Versatile tool and can be used in different situations
- Ideal for finishing woodworking jobs especially skirting board
- A good tool to use on thicker pieces of wood
- Can leave visible nail holes in wood
- Not suitable for thin wood or intricate jobs
- Suitable for use on thin and small pieces of wood
- It won’t leave visible nail holes
- You don’t need to fill in holes before you paint or varnish
- Wood won’t split when using this tool
- Not ideal for thicker pieces of wood
- Isn’t a very versatile tool
Top 3 Best Brad Nailers
Hitachi NT50AE2 18-Gauge 5/8-Inch to 2-Inch Brad Nailer
The Hitachi NT50AE2 18-Gauge 5/8-Inch to 2-Inch Brad Nailer is a very good tool and comes in at an affordable price too.
One of the best features of this brad nailer is that it has a depth-of-drive adjustment knob. This allows you to set the depth the nail will go in without having to use any other tools.
Weighing only 2.2 pounds, it is very lightweight. If you need to use this continuously over a long period of time, you can do so with ease. The elastomer grip also helps with this.
There is an easy to clear nose if a nail does get stuck. Overall a great brad nailer which a ton of features at a reasonable price.
Makita AF505N Brad Nailer, 2-Inch
The Makita AF505N Brad Nailer, 2-Inch is another relatively well-priced brad nailer that still offers good performance.
It is ideal for use in small and confined areas with its narrow nose design, while it also provides a depth adjustment dial.
If a nail does get jammed, it is easy to fix, and the hard carry case is a nice bonus. Even though it doesn’t come with a dry lockout feature or fast fire mode, it is an affordable brad nailer that does what you need it to do.
DEWALT 20V MAX Cordless Brad Nailer Kit, 18GA (DCN680D1)
This is a pretty expensive brad nailer, but if you have some money to spare, it is worth it. We mentioned this model before, and the DEWALT 20V MAX Cordless Brad Nailer Kit comes with a lot of features.
It is cordless for a start, while there are also multi-functional LED lights which help greatly in dark spaces. It is a bit heavy; however, it is a very powerful tool and works really well with securing door or window frames, baseboards, as well as mouldings.
With great accuracy, a cordless construction, belt hook, and automated shut-off feature, this is a real top-of-the-range brad nailer favoured by many professionals.
Top 3 Best Pin Nailers
Metabo HPT Pin Nailer Kit
This definitely isn’t the cheapest pin nailer out there, and while the nailer itself isn’t too expensive, the cost does add up when you go for the full kit.
That being said, the Metabo HPT Pin Nailer Kit is a powerful tool.
It is actually a very quiet nailer as well and only makes around 59 dB’s of noise, while its lightweight construction ensures it is easy to use. It also comes with a depth of drive adjustment, automatic dry-fire lock-out, and it is ideal for small and intricate jobs.
In fact, this pin nailer has won several awards and is favoured by many professionals.
NuMax SP123 Pneumatic 23-Gauge 1″ Micro Pin Nailer
For anyone that wants a budget option, the NuMax SP123 Pneumatic 23-Gauge 1″ Micro Pin Nailer is perfect.
It is really cheap but doesn’t necessarily skimp on the performance. It features a durable design with comfort and precision.
It might not be up to working on some bigger jobs; however, for hobbyists, it is a good tool to have in your collection. If you need a pin nailer for things such as picture frames, hobbies as well as small moulding, this is a great inexpensive option.
Grex P650L 23 Gauge 2 Inch Length Headless Pinner with dry fire lockout
Probably the best pin nailer and one that fires a 2-inch nail.
The Grex P650L Pin Nailer has a load of different features and is actually reasonably priced too. For safety, it has a dry fire lockout and double trigger, while the easy-load magazine means you don’t need to do any manual adjustments for pin sizes.
This pin nailer is comfortable to use as well. It has an ergonomic design and a very slim nose to fit into tight spaces.
If you need a pin nailer that can be used in a variety of situations, including moulding due to its 2-inch nails, this is what you need.
Are there any alternatives?
WEN 61720 3/4-Inch to 2-Inch 18-Gauge Brad Nailer
If you don’t fancy any of the brad nailers we have already listed, the WEN 61720 Brad Nailer is a solid choice.
It is very powerful and is air-powered at 60 to 100 psi, so it’ll work well in pretty hardwoods. Combined with a lightweight design, fast release system to fix jams, and an inexpensive cost, it is hard to go wrong with this model.
There are a few drawbacks, such as its tendency to jam, and the recoil can cause issues, but overall a good brad nailer for the price.
Arrow PT23G Arrow 23G Pin Nailer
As a budget alternative, the Arrow PT23G Arrow 23G Pin Nailer is a tool you should consider if you want to save some money.
It has a quick load magazine, and overall it is a very easy-to-use tool. The grip on this pin nailer further adds to its comfort, and it works well for hobby work and small trim jobs.
This certainly isn’t the best or top-of-the-range pin nailer, but you are sacrificing some features for the price. If you just need a pin nailer in your collection to use infrequently, it is difficult to say anything bad about the Arrow PT23G.
Frequently Asked Questions about Brad and Pin Nailers
Question: Can I use a brad nailer on hardwood?
Answer: It depends on the type of wood. While brad nailers are more powerful than pin nailers and can work with a more diverse range of wood, they may still struggle on certain woods.
Question: Will a brad nailer split wood?
Answer: It can do. If you are working with particularly thin pieces of material, the nails that a brad nailer uses will probably be too large and may split the wood.
Question: Are brad nailers suitable for use on baseboards?
Answer: Yes. Brad nailers are usually the right type of tools to use on baseboards as they are powerful enough to penetrate the moulding and hold everything together.
Question: Will a pin nailer leave holes in wood?
Answer: No. A pin nailer shouldn’t leave holes in wood because the nails are so thin. This means you don’t need to fill in any holes before you finish off your project with painting or varnishing.
Question: Can I use a pin nailer on hardwood?
Answer: No. Pin nailers are better used on soft and thin pieces of wood when you are undertaking intricate jobs. It won’t be powerful enough, and the nails won’t be large enough to use on hardwood.
Question: Do I really need a pin nailer?
Answer: It depends. If you are working in small jobs such as picture frames, small mouldings, and softwood that require a precision finish, a pin nailer is very useful to have.
Our Verdict: brad nailers are great for holding power but use a pin nailer for smaller jobs
You should now have a much better understanding of the difference between a brad nailer and a pin nailer.
A braid nailer is much more suited for bigger jobs that require more holding power. It is a more versatile tool that can be used on different types of woods.
We would recommend going with the DEWALT 20V MAX Cordless Brad Nailer Kit as it comes with everything you need. OK, it is a little bit expensive; however, it is a real top-of-the-range model that is used by many professionals. If you are going to be working on door frames, window frames, baseboards, or mouldings, this is a fantastic option.
Pin nailers are better for more intricate jobs that don’t require a lot of holding power. The big advantage is that they don’t leave visible nail holes in the wood.
The Grex P650L Pin Nailer is the best choice on the market. It is fairly reasonably priced but comes with many features such as a dry fire lockout, double trigger, and an easy-load magazine. It can be used in tight spaces, and the fact it can hold 2-inch nails does increase its versatility a bit more than some other pin nailers.