Brad Nailer vs Pin Nailer

For many DIYers and woodworkers, finishing requires more effort and attention. Obviously, all of us want our work to have the best finishing possible so that it will look appealing aesthetically. Whether you want to make cabinets, do some renovations, or build some state-of-the-art furniture, you need a great finish nailer.

Both pin nailers and brad nailers are finish/trim nail guns. So, Is a pin nailer the same as a brad nailer? What is the difference between the two and which one better for you? In this guide, we will walk you through the difference between these nailers and the right time to use each.

Difference Between Brad Nailers and Pin Nailers

Pin Nailer vs. Brad Nailer comparison
The main difference between pin nailer and brad nailer is that the pinner shoots  23-gauge headless nails whereas the latter uses  18 gauge nails with head. The advantage of the pinner is that it leaves very little mark on the work and requires no filling. Conversely, brad nailer offers better holding strength.

The pin nailer is the most delicate and smallest of the family of finish nail guns. The holes created by the 23 ga nails are so small that you can directly paint or stain the wood with varnish or polyurethane. Pin nailers are very useful and they come in handy for finishing works.

On the other hand, the brad nailer is a much more versatile power tool. You can use it for most of the finish nailing work including woodworking, carpentry, installing crown molding, window and door casing, wainscoting, etc. You can even use it for base boarding and shoe molds. If you ask me which is the best nailer for baseboards, I would suggest a 15 ga finish nailer over brad nailer. However, the brads work fine as long as the thickness is less than 1-inch.

Comparison Chart

  Brad Nailer Pin Nailer
Nail Size 18-Gauge 23-Gauge
Nail Type Nails with Head Headless Nails (Pins)
Holding Strength Moderate Low
Advantage Better holding strength and smaller nail size when compared to 15/16ga nails. Barely visible nailing marks. No need for fillers.
Uses Installing crown molding, baseboards and shoe molds, wainscoting, window castings etc. Fixing thin trims, holding for gluing, quarter rounds and shoe molding.
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Key Differences between Pin Nailers and Brad Nailer

Gauge Range

The pin nailer shoots 23-gauge nails, which have a variety of sizes ranging from 3/8 inches to 2 inches. Whereas, brad nailers shoot 18-gauge nails, which you can find in sizes ranging from 5/8 inches to 2 inches for a variety of usability.

Nail Type

Pin nailers are very popular for their headless nails while the nails shot by brand nailers have a flat head. Brad nailers use 18-gauge nails while pin nailers work with 23-gauge nails.


When it comes to versatility, brad nailers are more versatile. Pin nailers offer very little to no versatility, as they are only used to join delicate workpieces to add a mild finishing touch to the project. On the other hand, brad nailers are highly versatile. You can use this tool for almost any project, including base-boarding.

Nail Strength

While pin nailers provide cohesive force, they are best used for delicate pieces to achieve better results. They feature the right amount of power to prevent splitting workpieces. Nevertheless, you need to support it with adhesive or glue for a strong hold.

On the flip side, a brad nailer provides more holding power. You can use it on hardwoods without adding any adhesive or glue for added strength.

These two tools come in a wide range of lengths, ranging from 3/8 inches to 2 inches. All the standard sizes are between 3/8 inches and 2 inches. Many pin nailers accept a maximum of one-inch nails. However, a couple of high-end versions accept up to 2 inches nails.

Having both tools in your workshop is great. However, for many carpenters, you need to purchase one first. If you are a home user or DIY enthusiast, you might prefer to have only one. So, which do you chose between a braid nailer and a pin nailer?

Why Go for a Brad Nailer Over Pin Nailer

A brad nailer is a versatile tool that can be used for a wide variety of applications. The collated nails used in this tool usually have a T-shaped nail head design. However, these nails are still delicate and very small, but they provide more holding power than the tiny little 23-gauge nails.

Advantages of Brad Nailer When Compared to Pinner

  • Versatile and Ideal for Different Applications: The brad nailer is highly versatile and you can use it for almost any project. Whether you are building cabinets, doing some home renovations, or crown molding, there is always a project that will require you to use this tool.
  • More Holding Power: The brad nailer shoots 18-gauge nails that provide a great amount of holding strength. It offers more holding power than pin nailers do. You can use this powerful tool to nail baseboards, and this shows that it has more than enough holding power.
  • Great for Base-Boarding: While this tool is great for finishing jobs, you can also use it for base-boarding. It provides enough power for such applications.


  • Can Split Hardwood: A brad nail can split thin veneers, hardwood furniture trim, and other thin, delicate materials. The 18-gauge nail might be too large for these precious woods.
  • Nail Holes Need Filling: The brad nails will not leave large holes as the 15-gauge nailers do. However, the holes it leaves behind are still visible. You might need to fill the holes to make the project look aesthetically appealing.

Pin Nailer Pros and Cons

The 23 ga nails are headless and the diameter is similar to a sewing needle. Here is why you should go for a pinner.


  • Does not Split Work: Pin nailers shoot very tiny nails that cannot split your workpiece. With this tool, you do not have to worry about your workpieces.
  • No Visible Holes: The nails shot by pin nailers are headless and they do not leave any visible nail holes behind after use. After using this tool, you will not have to do filling if you want to paint, stain, or varnish the workpiece.
  • Great for Delicate & Thin Trims: This nail gun is great for working on small and delicate trims that may split easily. The 23ga pinner will hardly split it even the most delicate trims.


  • Less Holding Power: The holding power this tool offers is little compared to a brad nailer. This means, in most cases you should consider gluing your workpieces in addition to the pins.
  • Not Versatile: A pin nailer is not as versatile as a brad nailer. You cannot use it for a wide range of applications.

When to Use a Pin Nailer or a Brad Nailer

How do you know when to use a pin nailer or a brad nailer? When contemplating on which tool to use, you need to keep in mind that pain nailers offer very little holding power. Pin nailers are mostly used alongside an adhesive or wood glue. On the other hand, you can trust a brad nail with more holding power. If you are looking for the right nailer to nail up to a baseboard, you should use a brad nailer.

The versatility of brad nailers make them ideal for almost all kinds of projects, but the same cannot be said for the pin nailer. If you want to pick only one out of these two nailers, you should go for a brad nailer, as you can use it to do almost anything. A pin nailer is best suited for more delicate pieces, super-thin veneers, and tiny furniture trim where larger-gauges can cause damage.
Brad nailers and pin nailers are both very important and useful woodworking tools. They have their area of specialties and come in handy when needed. You should consider your needs and your intended use before making a choice.