Brad Nailer Vs Pin Nailer: Are They The Same Or Different?

Is the purpose of a brad nailer and a pin nailer the same or different? Those who work with them on a daily basis are well-versed in the distinctions between them. However, weekend warriors are frequently confused between the two because they are both built for finish carpentry and provide nearly identical functionality.

Despite the fact that they perform comparable functions, they have some differences in terms of features and benefits. Brad nailers, for example, can only fire 18 gauge nails. Pin nailers, on the other hand, are exclusively designed to drive 23 gauge nails.

The question now is which one is better for finish woodworking, home repair, or remodeling projects? And which one should a do-it-yourselfer or a homeowner buy?

Take a look at our brad nailer vs pin nailer comparison to learn more.

Brad Nailer Vs Pin Nailer: A General Overview

A large part of home building or remodeling is finish carpentry, and to do the finishing part smoothly, a power nail gun is imperative. But nail guns come in a variety of shapes and models. In finish carpentry, you will find four types of nail guns to be used commonly: a 15 and 16 gauge finish nailer, an 18 gauge brad nailer, and a 23 gauge pin nailer.

Now the fact is that they are all designed to do delicate woodworks such as installing trim or crown molding, baseboards, chair rails, wainscoting, little furniture, or ornamental wood crafts. Since they are all designed to do the same thing, it is creating a huge misunderstanding.

The confusion grows more when we have to choose a single tool between a brad nailer and a finish nailer or a brad nailer and a pin nailer. The decision becomes even more difficult when we have to pick any one between a brad nailer and a pin nailer as both of them are designed to drive thin and almost headless nails and are used for delicate trim work of less than 3/8 inch in size.

Whatever the case may be, we’re here to clear things up for you by explaining both of them. Let’s start with an explanation of what a brad nailer and a pin nailer are, followed by a comparison of the two.

What Is A Brad Nailer?

A brad nailer is a nail gun that is specifically intended to shoot brads. Brads are a type of nail with a tiny cross-section, a shank diameter of 18 gauge or 1.024mm, and a head diameter of 1.2mm. It is usually 5/8 to 2 inches long. Brads are very small in comparison to framing or finishing nails, as you can see from their size. As a result, a brad nailer is considered the best tool for attaching thin molding or baseboard (thickness not more than 3/8-inch) to another wood surface or frame.

The major advantage of utilizing a brad nailer over a finish nail gun is that it can fasten fine trim without splitting or hurting the surface. You also don’t need to use any additional putty after driving the nails because it leaves a fairly unnoticeable mark.

The brad nailers can be classified into two categories based on the power source: pneumatic and cordless or battery-driven. You’ll need an air compressor to use a pneumatic brad nailer, which will increase your initial outlay if you don’t already have one. You will, however, have constant power to drive nails.

A cordless or battery-powered brad nailer, on the other hand, gives you the freedom to use the tool anywhere you wish. It also provides you with great mobility in off-grid and remote locations. You can only drive nails up to the point where the battery is fully charged.

What Is A Pin Nailer?

A pin nailer is the tiniest type of air tool, meant for enthusiasts, Do-It-Yourselfers, and, of course, professionals. You can use a pin nailer to shoot 23-gauge nails that resemble sewing needles. Pins are frequently headless and have a shank diameter of 0.6mm. They are normally 1/2″ to 1″ in length but can be up to 2″ long in exceptional cases.

Because pins are headless, they’re ideal for finishing carpentry projects when you don’t want to use putty or sanding to hide head holes. Pins can also be used to keep two pieces of wood together after glue has been applied.

Like brad nail guns, pin nail guns are also available in two formats – pneumatic and cordless. However, the pneumatic pin nailers are the most popular option among woodworkers.

Brad Nailer Vs Pin Nailer: A Close Comparison

We already have a good notion of the differences between brad and pin nailer from their definitions. Let’s take a closer look at the fundamental distinctions between them once more.

Type Of Fastener:

The first and most obvious difference between the two nail guns is the type of fastener they are meant to drive.

Brad nailers join two pieces of wood together with brads. Brads have a cross-section of 18 gauge and can be up to 2 inches long. Pin nailers, on the other hand, drive pins into wood. Pins are small, with a cross-section of 23 gauge and a length of 1 inch.

When compared to pin nails, the brad’s tip is slightly larger. While the shank diameter of brads is 1.024mm, the head diameter is 1.2mm. Pins, on the other hand, all have identical 0.64mm shank and head diameter. So, we can say the pins are headless.

Design And Weight:

The fact that brad nailers are heavier than pin nailers is useful because they are meant to drive particularly thick and long nails. As a result, you can use a brad nailer for a more heavy-duty job than pin nailers. The lightweight pin nailers, on the other hand, will provide you with comfort and access to difficult-to-reach areas while performing sensitive woodwork.

In terms of design, brad nailers are a bit hefty in dimension than pin nailers. Pin nail guns are more compact in shape, though. But internally, both the nail gun is identical. Both are available in cordless and corded or pneumatic options. Pneumatic versions are more popular and versatile among them.

You will have one advantage over a brad nail gun with a pin nailer, and that is that you will never push the tip against the wood surface before firing. You can blast the pins into the wood piece by simply pull the tool’s trigger, which is comfortable for the users.

Nails Gripping Strength:

The brads will provide additional gripping strength since their shank diameter is larger than the diameter of the pins. The gripping force of a pin nailer is less than that of brad nails. As a result, you can use a brad nailer to secure thicker trim, such as baseboards, wainscoting, door and window casing, and so on. A pin nail gun, on the other hand, can be used to make highly delicate wood crafts or to temporarily unite two pieces of wood.

Types Of Wood They Are Ideal For:

Pin and brad nail guns aren’t designed to drive nails into heavier wood, such as thick crown molding. They work well with wood that is usually less than 1/2 inch thick. However, because brad nailers are designed to drive 18ga nails, they may drive nails into slightly thicker wood than pin nailers. As a result, brad nailers are a wonderful choice for baseboard and crown molding tasks in your home.

You can use pin nailers for veneer or furniture trim because they are designed to drive nails into extremely thin wood components. If you try to fasten veneer using a brad nailer, you’re likely to split the wood. As a result, make sure you’re using the right tools for the right job.

You may use both nail guns to drive nails into any type of wood, such as Oak, Maple, or Walnut because they are both powerful enough. All you have to do is keep the wood thickness consistent. When driving stronger woods like MDF or plywood, however, a 16 gauge finish nailer is preferable to a brad or pin nailer.

Price Comparison:

If you compare the prices of a brad nailer and a pin nailer, you will notice that there isn’t much of a difference. On the market, you may get them for as little as $30 to as much as $300 or more, depending on the brand and quality.

Which One Is Better: A Brad Nailer Vs Pin Nailer

So far, we’ve looked at the differences between a brad nailer and a pin nailer. It’s time to decide which option is superior. Before that, let’s take a look at the comparative advantages and disadvantages of these two nail guns side by side.

Advantages Of Brad Nailer Over Pin Nailer:

Uses 18-Gauge Nails:

18 gauge nails are ideal for installing standard-size crown molding or baseboards without splitting them. It also leaves fairly unnoticeable head holes compared to 15 or 16 gauge finish nails. Besides that, you will also get extra holding power from a brad nailer since the 18-gauge nails are thicker than the typical 23 gauge pins.

More Versatile:

Brad nailers are more adaptable than pin nailers. You can use a brad nailer to fasten wood items even when 2 or 2-1/2 inch nails are required. As a result, you may be able to eliminate the requirement for 16 gauge finish nail guns (which can typically drive up to 2-1/2 inch nails) in some cases. It can also be used for delicate tasks because it accommodates nails as short as 5/8 inch, which is extremely close to 1/2 inch pins.

Extra Gripping Power:

Brads can give you extra holding capacity than pins. Therefore, you can do a bit of heavy-duty wood works like installing crown molding, baseboards, chair rails, window or door casings with a brad nailer.

Best Option For Quarter Round:

The best choice for installing quarter rounds is to use a brad nailer. Pins are not a viable alternative for holding quarter rounds for a long time because they are almost headless.

Drawbacks Of A Brad Nailer:

Splitting Thin Veneer:

Although brad nailers are suitable for thin crown molding or base-boarding, using them on thin veneer, furniture trim, or other fragile timber components is problematic. The 18-gauge nails are too big for those valuable woods, and they could split them.

Need To Hide Head Holes:

Although the head size of 18 gauge brads is not as large as 16 gauge finish nails, it is larger than pins. As a result, when applying brads to finish carpentry, a wood filler such as putty, caulk, or epoxy is frequently required to cover the holes.

Might Create Dents:

During actuation, you need to depress the nose of the 18 gauge brad nailer, which may create dents in softer wood. It is also difficult to work at tight corners with a brad nailer because of its bigger dimension than the pin nailers.

Advantages Of A Pin Nailer Over Brad Nailer:

Great Option For Delicate Works:

Pin nailers normally employ 23 gauge pins, which are exceedingly thin and ideal for fine woodwork. A pin nail gun can be used to secure thin veneer, delicate moldings or pre-finished trim, and minor furniture projects.

Excellent For Instant Clamping:

A pin nailer is best for temporarily holding two pieces of wood together. It’s conceivable that when you apply glue in between the two large pieces of wood, they’ll slide out of alignment on top of each other because of clamping pressure. The simplest approach to avoid this sliding process is to use pins. After applying the glues, drive a pin into each corner of the wooden board will help you to hold them in place.

It Left No Visible Marks:

A 23 gauge pin nailer also has an advantage over brad nails in that it leaves no visible marks after firing. As a result, you can paint or varnish right away without using any wood filler.

No More Splitting:

As the 23 gauge pins are very subtle, there is no chance of splitting thin wood components. Therefore, you can drive pins on your delicate woodworks without worry.

Drawbacks Of A Pin Nailer:

Limited Gripping Strength:

Pin nailers have a lot of advantages; however, they have limited holding power. As a result, a pin nailer is not a good choice for structural carpentry and should be reserved for delicate trim and furniture work.

Less Versatility:

Pin nailers are less practical than other finish nailers since their gripping strength is restricted. You can only use it for a limited number of woodworking projects, or we may say pin nailers are good for use along with glue.

Which One Should You Choose – A Brad Nailer or A Pin Nailer?

It is obvious from the above comparison that both have their place of utility. You might make a mess if you try to use 18 gauge brad nails on soft and fragile wood trim. Installing heavy crown molding or base-boarding with 23 gauge pin nails, on the other hand, is not a good idea.

As a result, if at all possible, obtain both. If you have to choose between the two, I suggest using a brad nailer because it is more versatile and productive than a pin nailer.

infographic on brad nailer vs pin nailer comparison


Can you use pin nails in a brad nailer?

Brad nailers are designed to drive 18 gauge nails, which are substantial than the 23 gauge pin nails. On the other hand, you have the option to utilize pin nailers to drive pin nails. So, it is better to use a pin nailer to drive pins and a brad nailer to drive brads to get optimum output.

What is the difference between a finish nailer and a pin nailer?

The gauge of nails that a finish nailer and a pin nailer are designed to drive is the fundamental distinction. Pin nail guns can drive 23 gauge nails, but finish nailers can only drive 15 or 16 gauge nails. Pin nailers are suitable for temporary actuation or delicate trim work, whereas finish nailers are ideal for big trim jobs.

As a result, you must use a finish nailer instead of a pin nailer when doing heavy-duty crown moldings, stair or door casing works, or external trim works. And when there is a risk of splitting or denting the wood piece, a pin nail gun will be the best option.

What is the difference between a finish nailer and a brad nailer?

When you compare a finish nailer to a brad nailer, you’ll notice that they’re both designed for finishing carpentry projects. The nail gauge, however, is the main feature that distinguishes them. Finish nailers, as opposed to brad nailers, are designed to drive slightly larger nails (15 or 16 gauge vs 18 gauge).

As a result, finish nailers have become more adaptable and can be utilized for a wide range of finish carpentry tasks, from heavy crown molding and baseboard installation to little trim work. On the other hand, brad nailers are a perfect solution when you need less gripping capacity and risk-free nailing (without splitting the delicate wood pieces).

To explore more on brad nailer vs finish nailer, let’s read our article by clicking here.

Can you use a pin nailer for baseboards?

You can use the pin nailer for installing baseboards, but it must be along with some adhesive. Pin nails are thin and headless or slight head. So, they are not capable enough to hold the baseboards in position for a long time; however, applying caulk or liquid nails as an adhesive before driving pins is ok.

Can I use 18 gauge nails for trim?

You could connect thin trims, small crowns, and shoe molding by using 18 gauge brad nails without the fear of splitting or denting. However, because 18ga brad nails have a lower holding capacity, they are not recommended for installing thick baseboards or heavy crown moldings. In conclusion, whether you’ll use a finish nailer or a brad nailer depends on the thickness of the baseboard or trim.

Final Words

In our brad nailer vs pin nailer comparison, we hope to have covered everything there is to know about a brad nailer and a pin nailer. And we’ve come to the conclusion that brad nailers are more versatile than pin nailers, but a pin nailer is still required. We propose using both of them, depending on the situation, to add a professional touch to your finished carpentry or ornamental woodwork.

If you are looking for the best 18 gauge brad nailer on the market, the Metabo HPT NT5AE2 is our recommendation for the best pneumatic brad nailer for your tool inventory. If you want something less expensive but yet effective, the WEN 61721 brad nailer is a good option.

Our initial choice for the best 23 gauge pin nailer is the Metabo HPT NP35A pin nailer. It is a lightweight pinner that has been selected as a pro preferred brand for 7 years. However, if you need to drive extra-long pins up to 2″, the Grex P650L 23-Gauge pinner will be a good option.

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Tushar Mirror

Toolsmirror is a group of co-fighters led by Engr. Tushar is dedicated to gathering information, analyzing & test various items, and releasing reviews on various woodwork and outdoor tools. Our mission is to provide our readers with the most up-to-date ideas and approaches, as well as reveal the genuine features that will assist them in selecting the best items for their professions and DIY projects.

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