View Full Version : Brad Nailer vs. Finish Nailer

01-06-2005, 12:01 PM
Hi Folks--I've been using my PC 18G Brad Nailer that came with my pancake combo for over a year now and have absolutely no complaints.

I have a question about the 16G though--do you think it's necessary to have both? I'm about to finish my basement and though it might come in handy.

That said, is there anything my 18G cannot do that the 16G can? Is the difference worth the $200 it will cost me for the 16G?


01-06-2005, 12:30 PM
I just recently bought a finish nailer, came in real handy building some shelving in the basement.
I’d have to check but I think the brad nailer will only shoot brads up to an inch and a half long (could be 1 3/8).
The finish nailer will get you up to 2 1/2 inch nails a little bigger in diameter.
The shelves I made were simple 2X4, 1X2 and half inch plywood construction.
The brads didn’t have enough length to hold the 1X2’s effectively and a framing nailer was overkill, it would blow those 1X2’s (ripped 2X4’s) to bits. Learned that the hard way a while back. :)
The finish nailer was a good go between.
If you need to do a lot of nailing of inch or inch and a half stock, then they are handy to have (note: I did say a lot). If you only have a little to do that thick it’s hard to justify the cost, stick with a hammer.

If it's worth doin', it's worth doin' right.

01-06-2005, 12:43 PM
The 18G Brad nailer I have will actually shoot up to 2" nails (it's the PC 200A). For the extra 1/2", I wonder if the 16G increased diameter is worth the money over the 18G diameter. Thanks for your feedback.

01-06-2005, 02:56 PM
I have a PC 15 ga finish nailer and have been completely pleased with it. I'm at work right now, so I don't know the model number.

When I was shopping for finish nailers, it appeared that the 15-16 guage nail was the break-over point between two sizes of nail-gun-nail-driving-machinery-thingy....stuff. In other words, there are several sizes of "drivers" (or whatever the machinery is called that physically drives the fastener). The smallest is used for small staplers and brad nailers; the next size drives fasteners up to 16 guage; 15 guage is the smallest driven by the next larger size; next up is the roofing nailer; framing nailers have the biggest drivers. All of that make sense?

I went with the 15 guage finish nailer because the P-C version has a slanted nail magazine, and it appeared that it would get into smaller areas than the smaller 16 guage nailer, and the difference in size of the fastener (15 guage =vs= 16 guage) wasn't an issue for me.


01-06-2005, 03:59 PM
I have the finish nailer 16 Ga.

The smallest nail I can shoot is 1"

The larger guage has more of a tendency to split the wood.

Also with the brad nailer you can shoot a 5/8 brad. That would be hard to hold with your fingers and bang with a hammer. Ouch. Especially in tight quarters.

I am seriously thinking about getting a brad nailer, but that is only maybe $80-$90 dollars. Not like upgrading to a Finish nailer for $200.

The finish nailer, though a larger guage than the brads is still a pretty small guage. Brads are even smaller guage. I would think the longest nail (2" +) in a brad nailer for trim wood, would probably work, but that is a really thin nail. even the 16 Ga. in my estimation is small.

Is it worth the $200? How much are you saving over having a carpenter do the job. Are you saving more than $200.00?

Yeah, thought so.

Sure is a good excuse to go get a new tool.

01-06-2005, 05:30 PM
Well bust my chops and color me learn-ed…..again.
I have the PC BN125A that will only handle up to 1 ¼” brads.
Picked it and the NS100A stapler as a combo deal a couple of years ago.
Just got the Bostitch SB-1664FN down at Lowe’s, they were sold out of the PC’s and it was a display model that I got half off. Didn’t really “need” it but had some Christmas cash burning a hole in my pocket. :)
Oh, and just as a gloat, I’ve got the PC FC350A framer……..neener..neener…neener! :P

If it's worth doin', it's worth doin' right.

01-06-2005, 06:25 PM
me too

neeer neeer

Just don't have the brad nailer

01-06-2005, 07:11 PM
I have both the PC 18ga brad nailer and the 16ga finish nailer, and a new Dewalt 15ga angled finish nailer to replace the latter.

Brads are great for nailing light trim pieces and holding light pieces such as cabinet backs. They are also good for securing a board in a dado (or other joint) until the glue dries. Finish nails are good for heavier trim (like crown or baseboard molding) and any construction which requires a finish nail - for example I can support a small melamine shelf with 3 2" finish nails on each side. Usually brads are shorter and finish nails are longer. I forget how long my PC brad nailer will shoot but I can't recall trying anything over about 1-1/4". When I am putting up door moulding, I shoot finish nails around the outside and brads near the reveal. I wouldn't be without either.

I am replacing my PC finish nailer for two reasons: first, I found that the angled nailer gets into a lot of places my other won't, and second, the 16ga PC finish nailer is a gutless wonder. I think I posted this once before: I bought a finish nailer so I could retire my nail sets, but the PC 16ga did not allow me to do that. No matter how much pressure or how far to the deep side I set the adjustment, longer nails often would not sink below the wood and even sometimes stayed proud of the wood. A bummer, for sure!

15ga vs. 16ga doesn't make that much difference in most places I use finish nails, other than a slightly larger hole to fill.


01-06-2005, 07:59 PM
My PC finish nailer will drive the nails too deep if I let it. I built a step between shop and house using Oak. I could drive 2" nails 1/8" below the surface w/o a problem.

Do you oil your nailer before using? I usually put 2-3 drops in mine every time before using for the day.

01-06-2005, 10:41 PM
Roger, is that the new battery powered DeWalt finish nailer? If it is, how do you like it so far, and how is battery life etc?


01-06-2005, 10:47 PM

Did you adjust the depth adjustment on that PC.

I have the same nailer and there is NO problem in any wood to sink the nails, at 70-90 pounds of air.

I don't find it to be a gutless wonder at all!!

edit: I do use oil in it every time I use it.

01-06-2005, 11:41 PM

Naw... nevermind

"I just don't understand...
I've cut it three times and it's still too short!"

carl civi
01-07-2005, 02:37 PM
Hi,guys i think the oil is used to purify the air coming through the compressors without filters, it catches the impurities coming from your tank so it doesn`t foul your gun mechenisum.(howda ya spell dat)I have both 16ga and 18ga they both work great for me,shoulda` had em 40yrs ago.I just have the pancake jobbie,it is good enough for me. Carl

01-07-2005, 03:25 PM
Thanks Carl. Is your 18G a 2" model? If so, when do you use the 16G over the 18G?

carl civi
01-07-2005, 05:47 PM
HI,my 18ga i think is 5/8-- 1 1/2 and the 16ga shoots 1 1/4 to 2 1/2.Thickness of wood determins what size,thin molding or what not use the 18ga.I used the 16ga to put wood t& grove pine paneling in my cabin on all the walls and did all the window and door casings all over,thats been about 4yrs now and nothing moved or popped,even with the extreme weather changes and no heat or anything while were not there.To do the walls i used 1 1/2 nails, to do the trim i used 2 1/2 nails so they go though the wood into the studs.I would like to get the stapler but i want to get the right sizes i think you can do quick work when working thin wood such as bird houses lattice work,the staples would hold better to. carl