How to Load a Brad Nailer?

Let me guess: You got a new nailer and a set of nails and now you are wondering what is the right way to load a brad nailer. Years ago, I was in the exact same situation.

So, let me help you..

Before you can nail anything, you need to load the nailer. In this article, I’ll explain, how to load a nail gun correctly and avoid nail jam issues.

How to Load a Nailer
But first, we need to have the right set of nails for the job.

What Type of Nails Do I Use for A Brad Nailer?

You need to use 18-gauge brad nails with flat head. Brad nailers use stick nails instead of coil nails. This makes the tool lighter and overall more maneuverable for quick home tasks.
18G Brad Nails
Coil nails are attached by a thin wire, loaded into a canister, and are mostly used for framing, roofing, sheathing, etc. and are of a thicker gauge.

Stick nails are loaded into a magazine, connected with a light adhesive, and can come at different angles and collation styles for different types of finish nail guns.

Now that you know the right type of nail you need, it’s time to get your new Brad Nailer ready for action.

How to Load a Brad Nailer

Here’s how you should install nails into a nail gun.

  1. Disconnect Power: Make sure there is no power to the gun when you are loading it. Disconnect any hoses or batteries before loading.
  2. Disconnect Air Pipe

  3. Open the Magazine: The bottom of the magazine will have a small button or a quick-release latch. When you press it, it releases the lock and the magazine slides out.
  4. How to open the nailer magazine

  5. Brad Nails: Make sure that you have the right size nail. You need the 18-gauge collated nails (stick nails)
  6. 18 Gauge Brad Nails

  7. Load your stick nails. Make sure that you’re only loading complete “units” of stick nails. They can be broken apart during transit or just from being around a job site, so even if it’s not a “full” row, only load one “unit” at a time. This keeps the machine from jamming. If a jam does occur, use the flip-top nose just behind the point of the gun to assess the situation.
  8. Loading collated nails in a Brad Nailer

  9. Nails Pointing Down: Place the nails with the head of the nail away from the tip of the gun when loading it into the magazine. You want the “pointy end” going into whatever you’re working on, not the blunt head. The nail gun will not work properly if installed backward. The magazine is self-accelerating, and most nail guns will have a “magazine window” or “low nail indicator” to let the operator know when it will soon be time to reload.
  10. Right way to place the nails in magazine

  11. Close the Magazine: Slide the magazine sheath back up until you hear the quick-release button clicks.
  12. Closing the Nail gun magazine You’ve now loaded the nail gun and locked the magazine.

Always use caution when operating power tools. Keep your fingers away from the tip of the nail gun and make sure you’re observing basic workspace safety. Use eye and ear protection when operating nail guns. Make sure your hose line is clear and untangled, minimizing the risk of a misfire or tripping-related accident.

How Do I Power a Brad Nailer?

Nail guns of any kind can be somewhat intimidating. Traditionally, they’re loud all around. The compressor is loud, the gun itself is loud, the short echo after a fire in a tiled room is loud, and naturally, dogs hate them.

But they’re actually a pretty safe tool. Modern nail guns cannot just “accidentally” shoot into your toe or across a room at someone, even if you’re pulling the trigger. They have a no-mark safety tip that must be depressed with significant pressure in order for the shooting mechanism to activate. If you aren’t deliberately pressing into a surface, no nail is coming out. For added safety, many guns also offer a trigger lock that can further prevent any mishaps.

Battery Powered Nailer

Battery-powered brad nailers are newer to the market and more expensive than their pneumatic counterparts, but the extra cost is balanced by the money you aren’t spending on a compressor, hoses, attachments, and extension cords.

Pneumatic Nailers

If you are going the compressor route, consider purchasing a longer hose so you can keep it out of the direct space where you’re working (perhaps in a hallway or another room).

Nothing startles a person half to death quite like a compressor kicking in and making the whole room shake while you’re deep in focus mode.

Making sure to depressurize the compressor before disconnecting any hoses will also help minimize any compressor stress! Without that intense WHOOSH, it’s much less scary.

Connect the hoses before the compressor is plugged in, and disconnect the hoses after it’s been depressurized.

Also See: Pneumatic vs Cordless Nailers – Which One Should You Choose?

How is a Brad Nailer different from a Nail Gun?

“Nail Gun” Is a blanket term for a powered hammer device that shoots nails into material for building purposes. A brad nailer is a type of nail gun, with its own specific strengths and weaknesses.

Brad nailers are, on average, smaller than other nail guns. They’re less expensive and considered “light duty,” for finish or decorative trim, and use 18 gauge nails. In comparison, a finish nail gun uses 16 gauge or 15 gauge nails (for background info, the lower the number of a nail’s gauge, the thicker it will be!).
For more information, see the detailed comparison between brad nailer vs finish nailers here.

Brad nails can’t penetrate hard timer, but they’re also less likely to split a piece of wood. They’re best for softwoods, don’t have an angled magazine, and the head of the nails is smaller and more discreet on your project.

Nail guns are a super-efficient and helpful tool, and a key component of any DIYer’s kit. You can either buy one or rent a nailer for your project. If you already own a compressor, go for the pneumatic version otherwise get a battery-powered nailer.