Brad Nailer Uses: Discover the True Potential

There are different types of nailer guns available on the market. Each one specializes in different sizes or gauge of nails. The brad nailer falls in-between the smaller pin nailer and larger finish nailer. It uses 18-gauge nails with a partial head that are called brads, hence the name brad nailer.

Brad Nailer Uses

What follows are the uses, benefits, and considerations when employing a brad nailer.

When to Use a Brad Nailer?

A brad nailer is perfect for projects where delicate work is required. In other words, the larger nails of a finishing nailer would damage the materials, while the smaller 23-gauge nails of a pin nailer would not be sufficient to hold the materials together.

Therefore, an 18-gauge brad nailer is the optimal choice for tasks that demand more hold than a pin nailer can provide, but where the material is too delicate for the larger nails of a finish nailer.

Typically, a brad nailer is used for trim work, DIY crafts, lightweight cabinetry, and delicate furniture construction.

Now that you have an idea on when to opt for a brad nailer over other types of nailers, let’s dive into the specific, common applications where this tool truly shines.

Common Uses of Brad Nailers

Man Using Brad Nailer

1. Trim Work:

Perhaps the most common use of the brad nailer is with trim work. This is attaching small boards and moldings to wooden surfaces. Because the boards tend to be thinner, yet need to fit securely against the surface, a brad nailer is often the best tool for the job.

This means that you can perform interior trim jobs on different items that include baseboards, windows, furniture, doors, and more. Recently I used brad nailer for installing quarter round to replace the old shoe moldings.

“Brad nailsers are great for tacking up trim: Brad holes are tiny, so you can easily pry off and reposition the trim if needed,”

-explains Michael W. Litchfield, a home improvement expert and author of the book “Renovation”.

Note: Thick and heavy trims such as crown molding requires more holding strength. For these I prefer to use a finish nailer instead of brad nailer.

2. Cabinetry:

Because cabinets may be made from thinner materials, the brad nailer is often used to secure the pieces together. However, if the materials are very thin, then a pin nailer may be better.

You will need to judge the thickness and density of the material before making the final selection. But the brad nailer is a common choice in this regard.

3. Crafts & DIY Projects:

Because the brad nailer is so versatile, it is often the perfect tool for DIY projects and crafts.
The power of the nailer combined with its ability to secure materials makes it well suited for building birdhouses, dollhouses, and more.

4. Picture Framing:

Like DIY projects, the brad nailer is often used to create picture framing. Simply cut the material to the desired size and shape, apply wood glue and then secure the corners by driving a couple of brads from the side.

For thin, lightweight materials, a pin nailer may be preferred especially when you want to minimize the nail holes. Alternatively you can try V nailer for picture frames with miter joints.

5. Clamping for Gluing:

Another common use of the brad nailer is to secure the materials in place for the glue to set. It can be used in combination with clamps or on its own when clamps are either not available or not practical for the project.

6. Upholstery:

Attaching fabrics to furniture is a popular use of the brad nailer. Strong enough to hold the fabric or material in place, yet the nails are small enough to not be noticed.

Although staplers are preferred, brad nailer will work perfectly fine for most types of upholstery with the results lasting for years of normal use.

7. Paneling:

Although a finishing nailer may be more suitable, the brad nailer has the advantage of being smaller, easier to use, and gentler on panel materials that may be fragile or lightweight.

Plus, the holes made by the 18-gauge nails are far smaller and easier to hide compared to the 15 or 16-gauge nails of a finish nailer. You can directly paint over it without worrying about filling all those tiny holes.
The result is attaching paneling faster and with less follow-up work.

8. Install/Repair Hardwood Flooring

While a brad nail gun is not typically the first choice for hardwood flooring installation, there are instances where it can be useful. For example, it is suitable for installing ½” engineered wood flooring boards or for tongue and groove flooring installations.

Moreover, a brad nailer can be a handy tool for repairing small sections of hardwood flooring, such as replacing a single board or a small damaged area.

However, for denser materials such as ¾” solid hardwood, or for larger-scale flooring installations, a more powerful tool like a flooring nailer would be required.

9. Repairing Split Wood:

For repairing small splits or cracks, the brad nailer is ideal. Either by securing the pieces together or adding a small trim to the wood, the brad nails are often small enough to not be noticed unless closely inspected. In fact, it may be difficult to tell if the crack ever existed or was repaired when using a brad nailer.

Other uses include securing window or door casings or for other fixtures. Trim carpentry, create homemade projects and crafts, or just create new things. You can even repair antiques and other items using the brad nailer. Keep in mind that you can choose a straight or angled nailer which makes it perfect for getting into small corners or tight areas.

Now that we’ve covered the many uses of brad nailers, let’s move on to the distinct benefits that make them an excellent choice.

Benefits of Using Brad Nailers

There are several benefits to using a brad nailer. The versatility of the brad nailer allows it to be used for many different projects.

Among these benefits are:

  • Smaller, Less Noticeable Holes
  • Lower Risk of Splitting Wood
  • Good Holding Power

One of the issues that many people face when using nails is the size of the hole that is created. Since the brad nails are thin 18-gauge wire with small flat heads, the resulting holes are smaller and less noticeable.

However, they are not as small as the 23-gauge nails used by the pin nailer. You may still need to use filler and then paint or stain the material afterwards.

Another solid advantage is that you have less of a chance of splitting or cracking the wood or material. This means that you can use the brad nailer with more confidence. However, it is suggested that if you are not sure about the material in question, start with a scrap piece to judge its effects.

If the material splits or cracks, you should switch to a pin nailer. Conversely, if the nail does not penetrate the material sufficiently, you might need to use a finish nailer or framing nailer.

For the size of the nails used, the brad nailer does have good holding power. Unlike a pin nailer which is small enough to often require wood glue or other adhesives, a brad nailer will generally do the job and hold the materials together quite well with just the 18-gauge nails.

Safety Measures and Best Practices

While brad nailers have several significant advantages, it’s important to note some key safety measures and best practices.

Here are some of the most important considerations when using the brad nailer.

  • Safety
  • Proper Maintenance
  • Choosing the Right Materials


First and foremost, despite their smaller nail size making them easy for your hands compared to finish nailers, brad nailers still require diligent safety precautions to prevent injury.

You should wear safety goggles to protect your eyes.
Although the brad nailer does not make as much noise compared to a finishing or framing nailer, I recommend you use ear protection, especially when using a pneumatic nail gun.

Also, do not wear loose clothing as that may bind or get caught up in the machinery of the brad nailer.

Next, let’s discuss maintenance.

Proper Maintenance

Keeping the brad nailer working properly starts by cleaning the tool after every use and following the recommendations by the manufacturer.

Ensure all settings are correct before using the nailer.

Choosing the Right Task & Material

The brad nailer is a solid, versatile tool, but it is not the best one to use for all situations.

The brad nail gun should be used only on suitable materials. This should be wood that is thick enough so that it does not break or split, but thin enough to allow the nail to travel all the way through. This will depend on the thickness and type of wood along with the length of the nail being used.

A brad nailer’s 18-gauge nails don’t offer the structural strength required for heavy-duty work such as framing. For a deeper comparison, check out our article on Brad Nailer vs. Framing Nailer.

While brads rarely cause splitting, I would still recommend that you stay away from the edges as that increases the likelihood of splitting. Plus, avoid knots as they are harder and might prevent the nail from entering cleanly.

Troubleshooting Nail Jams

If a nail gets stuck, carefully remove it and retry or adjust your nailer position. Should the problem persist, you may need to consider a finish nailer, known for their superior penetrating power.

Wrapping Up

In conclusion, the brad nailer proves to be an invaluable tool for various woodworking tasks, from trim work to DIY projects and furniture repair. Its versatility and ability to handle delicate jobs set it apart from other nailers.

However, it’s important to understand its limitations and proper usage to ensure optimal results. Remember, a brad nailer is not an all-purpose tool, but rather one that fills a specific role in the range between pin and finishing nailers.

So, whether you’re a seasoned woodworker or a home DIY enthusiast, the brad nailer is a worthwhile addition to your toolbox, promising efficiency, precision, and a professional finish to your projects.