When it comes to woodwork there are different nail guns for different jobs. A finish nailer is what you need if you’re looking for both speed and accuracy. It is a great tool to have if you’re interested in doing some DIY or woodwork projects and is also the perfect tool for indoor trim and moldings around windows. If this sounds like a nailer you need in your life check out our buying guide and reviews below.
Table of Contents
- Finish Nailer vs Brad Nailer– What’s the difference?
- What is a finish nailer?
- What can a finish nailer be used for?
- #1 Power Source: Finish Nailer Buying Guide
- #2 Gauge Size: Buying Guide
- #3 Angled or Straight Finish Nailer?
- TOP 5 Best Finish Nailers of 2019 (Reviews)
- #1 Best Cordless Finish Nailer: Hitachi NT1865DMA 18V Cordless
- #2 Best Nail Gun for Trim: NuMax SFN64 Pneumatic 16-Gauge
- #3 Best 16 Gauge Finish Nailer: BOSTITCH Finish Nailer Kit
- #4 Best Finishing Nail Gun: Porter-Cable Finish Nailer 16GA
- #5 Best Pneumatic Finish Nailer: DEWALT D51276K 1-Inch to 2-1/1-Inch
Finish Nailer vs Brad Nailer– What’s the difference?
Brad Nailer use gauge sizes 18 (thinner nails for thin pieces)
Finish Nailer use gauge sizes 15 and 16 (larger nails for stronger attachment)
What is a finish nailer?
A finish nailer uses shorter (1-2.5 inch) and lighter gauge nails (14 to 16 gauge). They allow for precision work and, as the name suggests, are used for ‘finishing’ projects so that you can be sure that the end result is secure and professional looking. Whether you need a finish nailer for your trade or you’re an aspiring hobbyist a finishing nail gun is an essential piece of kit when it comes to working with wood.
What can a finish nailer be used for?
A finish nailer can be used for building furniture, creating decking, chair railing, base boarding, molding, crowning, and indoor trim. This multi-purpose nail gun ensures that whatever you’re creating has a quality finish and is a useful tool to have whether you work with wood for a hobby or professionally.
There are different types of finish nailers with a variety of purposes, so make sure you consider what you want to use the finish nailer for before you purchase a model. In this buying guide, we take you through what you need to consider to find the right finish nail gun for your needs.
#1 Power Source: Finish Nailer Buying Guide
Different types of finish nailers vary on the source of power they use to work. The type you require will depend on personal preference but also on whether or not you will be using your finish nailer somewhere where a power supply may not always be available. These are the three main types:
Electric Finish Nailers
This type of finish nailer relies on electricity to power them. There is a cordless variety that contains a rechargeable battery that can be charged and then gives you the freedom to use the finish nailer wherever you need. The lack of cord also gives greater flexibility when you’re using the nailer. Another option is a corded-electric finish nailer, this needs to be plugged in at all times but means that it will always have enough power to work effectively.
Pneumatic Finish Nailers
A pneumatic finish nailer requires an air compressor in order to function, if you’re a professional you may already have one but if you’re a hobbyist this can be an additional cost that you may not want to shoulder. However, pneumatic nailers tend to be more powerful than their electric counterpart so it can be a worthy investment. When thinking about purchasing a pneumatic finish nailer also consider the fact that the air compressor and tubing need to be permanently attached to the nailer.
Gas-powered Finish Nailers
Gas-powered finish nailers are a little rarer than the other two types of nail guns. This type of nailer has the benefit of being portable as the power source they need is gas and they give a good amount of power.
#2 Gauge Size: Buying Guide
You will notice that finish nailers have different gauge sizes. This refers to the size of the nail that the nailer can dispense. The size of the gauge will also determine what sort of project you can use the finish nailer for. Generally, finish nailers come in 4 different sizes: 15,16, 18, and 23 gauge size. A key thing to remember is the smaller the gauge size, the thicker the nails it can shoot.
15-16 Gauge Nailer
Purchasing a nailer that is either 15 or 16 gauge will allow you to dispense the thickest nails (around 2-2.5 inches long). These can be used if you’re making furniture or a cabinet, they are also useful for upholstery projects if you’re wanting to do some upcycling. This is also a good choice if you need to do some trim work or molding installation.
18 Gauge Nailer
An 18 gauge nailer will dispense smaller nails, measuring between 1.5-2 inches long. This type of finish nailer is a good choice if you’re going to be doing repair work to wooden furniture or decking, or you’re going to be working with thinner materials. A finish nailer that is 18 gauge can also be used for trim installation.
23 Gauge Nailer
With a 23 gauge nailer you will be using the thinnest type of nails. This type of nailer is a good choice if you’re going to be working with small and fragile pieces where a lower gauge nailer may split the wood. Projects that can be done with a 23 gauge nailer include delicate trimming work or framing.
#3 Angled or Straight Finish Nailer?
Another feature to consider when buying a finish nailer is whether to go for an angled or a straight finish nailer. The type you need will depend on the project you want to do – let’s take a look at the differences between the two.
Angled Finish Nailer
The larger the angle the easier it will be to fit your finish nailer into difficult to reach places. So, if you need to reach corners or other tricky areas an angled nailer will be your best bet. It is generally recommended that if you’re only going to have one finish nailer that you should go for an angled nailer as it covers all bases. However, be aware that an angled nailer is a little pricier than a straight nailer and that it shoots thicker nails (usually they are around the 15-16 gauge mark).
Straight Finish Nailer
If you’re looking for an easy to use and low-priced finish nailer that is purely for use with simple projects then a straight finish nailer might be for you. A straight nailer is usually used for shooting thinner nails that are going to be on exposed surfaces so that they are not unappealing on the finished project. While you won’t be able to get into the nooks and crannies with a straight nailer, it will be useful if you need to do any detailed trimming work or carpentry work that requires small details.
TOP 5 Best Finish Nailers of 2019 (Reviews)
Now you know which type of finish nailer you need, it’s now time to take a look at some of the best products currently on the market.
#1 Best Cordless Finish Nailer: Hitachi NT1865DMA 18V Cordless
If a finish nailer of the cordless variety appeals to you then take a look at this cordless finish nailer by Hitachi. This finish nailer is powered by a 3.0Ah rechargeable lithium-ion battery that is, in fact, designed to be lighter than a traditional lithium-ion battery of this size by around 6 lbs, making it a highly portable and easy to use finish nailer. Without the need for an air compressor or a long cord to plug it in, this finish nailer is super versatile allowing you to use it wherever you need.
With a cordless nailer, it is important that it can keep its charge and with this finish nailer from Hitachi it promises to dispense up to a whopping 1,100 nails per charge. Plus, the design of this finish nailer draws on that of a pneumatic nailer using compressed air to help fire the nails (without the need for an additional air compressor!). This is an angled nailer so great for getting in those small corners.
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#2 Best Nail Gun for Trim: NuMax SFN64 Pneumatic 16-Gauge
If you’re looking for the best finish nailer for trim then look no further than this fantastic product from NuMax. What’s more, this finish nailer will also work well for other woodwork projects such as furniture making, cabinetry and attaching baseboards. This is a pneumatically powered finish nailer so you will need an air compressor in addition to the finish nailer in order for it to function.
This finish nailer is certainly built to last with an aluminum body which is also lightweight to hold for ease of use. The ergonomic handle also makes this a comfortable finish nailer to use and gives you full control of the nail gun. This nail gun has an adjustable depth so you can adjust depending on the material you are using, plus, the quick jam release means that any hold-ups are quick to sort. This nail gun uses the sequential firing method making your nail placement and depth accurate. A great choice all round.
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#3 Best 16 Gauge Finish Nailer: BOSTITCH Finish Nailer Kit
A 16 gauge finish nailer is a great all-rounder which will be a handy tool to have for a whole host of woodwork projects including furniture making, trim work and molding. This finish nailer from BOSTITCH will do just the job. It has a depth adjustment that is easy to use and allows you to get the depth you need for whatever material you’re working with. Plus, this finish nailer has the option of both sequential and a contact trigger so whichever method you prefer this nail gun has the option.
With this 16 gauge nailer, you don’t need to worry about jamming either, as with the tool-free jam release mechanism it’s easy to remove nails that have got stuck. Bear in mind that this is a pneumatic finish nailer so you will need to purchase an air compressor to get this excellent nailer powered up and good to go.
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#4 Best Finishing Nail Gun: Porter-Cable Finish Nailer 16GA
For a finish nailer you can rely on every time check out this fantastic product from Porter-Cable. Powered by an air compressor (needs to be bought separately), this finish nailer can deliver some powerful shots working between 70 to 120 PSI. You can also be confident that this finish nailer is safe to use thanks to the presence of a sequential firing mechanism and some free safety glasses included.
You’ll also receive a carrying case with this finish nailer helping to make it super portable. With everything you need to get started on your woodwork projects, including the ability to change the depth of drive and easily remove nails that have got jammed, you can be sure that your woodworking hobby is just about to get a whole lot easier.
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#5 Best Pneumatic Finish Nailer: DEWALT D51276K 1-Inch to 2-1/1-Inch
One of the benefits of using a pneumatic nailer are that it can exert some serious power which is a real asset if you need to be driving in a lot of nails at one time. With this pneumatic finish nailer from DEWALT you will not be disappointed. It has an operating pressure of 70-120 PSI but you will need an additional air compressor to see this excellent finish nailer in action.
This is an angled finish nailer so it can be adjusted to fit in harder to reach places. The depth of drive can also be altered to suit whatever surface you are working on so there is definite room for maneuver with this nail gun. With a three year limited warranty and a 90 day money back guarantee you can’t go wrong with this pneumatic finish nailer.
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Whether you work with wood for a living or you’re an aspiring woodwork enthusiast then investing in a quality finish nailer is a good idea. This item can be used for a variety of woodwork projects including furniture making, cabinet making, upholstery as well as trim work, molding, and a multitude of DIY work in the home.
Choosing the perfect finish nailer for you takes a bit of thought, however, thanks to our buying guide, you will soon be on the right road to finding the perfect finish nailer to suit your requirements.