View Full Version : 15/16 or 18/19 gauge air nailer

04-11-2002, 07:37 PM
I'm a little confused as to which one to buy for nailing window casings, door casings, baseboard, etc.

04-11-2002, 07:55 PM
you'll probably wanna go with 2" wires...if you get a 18ga I think they're limited to 1 1/2"...

04-11-2002, 07:57 PM
Thanks for the quick reply. I actually found an 18 gauge that does 2 inch brads. Before that, I was all set to get the 16 gauge. Now I'm confused.

BTW, it's a PC BN200.

Thank you

04-11-2002, 08:00 PM
I have an 18 GA brad nailer that takes up to 2" brads. Keep in mind that this is not for "finish" work. I have been able to drive 2" brads into red oak with it with no problem. I use it 'only 'till the glue sets'. If you are going to use it for things like putting finish trim on to your wall ect, go with a finish nailer. The brads are too week for this.

Danford C Jennings
04-11-2002, 11:04 PM

Personally, I use an Estwing 20oz claw for trim work, don't remember the model number but, it has the ringed leather handle. An air nailer will not "draw" things up tight, nothing beats an ardox finish nail.

What you are looking for is a trim nailer that shoots 15ga.

I do have a PC BN125, it shoots 18ga from 5/8ths to 1 1/4tr. I use it mostly for jigs and pinning. Nice tool.

The finish carpenter's that I know that do use trim nailers usually go with an angled nailer, like a Senco, Duo-Fast, or Passlode. FWIW.


Jerry M
04-12-2002, 12:02 AM

I'm a finish carpenter. I use both 15 gauge nail guns and an 18 gauge pinner.

For casing and baseboard, you want a 15 gauge gun. It shoots a finish nail roughly equal to the diameter of a 5-penny nail, but up to 2-1/2" long (the length of an 8-penny nail).

The 18 gauge pinner is a brad gun. I use it to pin together the mitered corners of baseboard and a zillion other things, but the brads are too whimpy for casing and baseboard.


You need to learn from other people's mistakes. You'll never have enough time to make them all yourself.

04-12-2002, 05:31 AM
Hi Jumbo:

I agree with most of the replys so far.

As a finish carpenter I use my 15 ga pretty much exclusivly (even on mitres Jerry! :) ). The 18 ga lives in the truck, but other than on small trims on built up mouldings I hardly use it. And to throw out another somewhat controversial comment, I use 2 1/2" nails for pretty much everything.

And I carry 2", 2 1/2" and 3" finishing nails in my pouch. I gave up on the Estwing Dano and bought a 20 oz Cooper with a cusion grip. I guess I'm getting old :)!

With an air nailer, just remember to keep your free hand at least twice the distance away from the gun as the length of nail you are using.



Danford C Jennings
04-12-2002, 08:27 AM

To each his own; never did like air guns, never will. A hand nail is more than a fastener, it's a tool. I started out as a framing carp, after the first week, I tossed the 28oz Estwing "blue handle" and went to Vaughn. Worked with a guy out of California whose father worked for what was then a very small tool company called Hart. Any who, he gave me a 25oz Hart, the originianl "California Framer", sweetest hammer I've ever owned, still use one. I was in the hardware store the other day and saw that Hart makes a finish hammer with the same head shape. Picked up a 20 ozer and damn near bought it.

When I had my own framing company, we only used air guns for the sheathing...and only reluctantly at that. After going into finish and cabinet work, never even considered 'em. Got my PC about 4 years ago just for temporary jigs mainly. No body in my neck o' the woods has even heard of a finish ardox, much less stock 'em so I order them from back East.....I still do some trim and cabinet work, turn down more than I take on, and it's kinda interesting to see the looks of the other trades that might be on site when I roll out; no compressor, no air gun, varnished set of quarter sawn Doug Fir finish horses, Cherry tool kit, hip nail box made out of cabinet grade ply varnished and with Birch dividers, and my CMS "bench". Guess things are very "different" here in The Basin, word seems to have gotten out that I'm in and out in about 1/2 the time as most other guys...If I weren't so committed to furniture making, it would be very tempting to go with it full time....

"People forget how fast you did a job...But, they remember how well you did it." - Howard W. Newton


04-12-2002, 07:21 PM
I posed pretty much the same question a couple of weeks ago on this forum. I have an 18g brad nailer and just didn't think these were strong enough for nailing 3/4" pine casings and headers.

The replys I received were mixed. Some thought 18g, 2" brads would be strong enough. Some nixed that and strongly suggested I buy the 15g angled nailer that I thought I would need.

Today we had to take down one window casing that was too long. It was installed with the 18G brads. Tough to take down? I could have pulled it down without any tools once I got a grip on it.

I told my nephew I was going to go buy the 15g nailer and when I am gone I want you to re-nail everything we had already put up. Thank God it wasn't too much. He put 6d finish through the casings into the door jambs and 8d finish throough the casing into the studs.

That's my story for today. I now have a 15g nailer, but I still believe nothing holds as tight as "real nails".

Good luck in your choice!


Danford C Jennings
04-12-2002, 07:44 PM

He put 6d finish through the casings into the door jambs and 8d finish throough the casing into the studs.

Yupper that's the nailing schedule. I run a line of PVA glue on the miters and use a 2d to pin.


Larry Williams
04-13-2002, 07:51 AM

When it comes to finish carpentry, I usually read your posts and say; "Well, Dano's got it covered. No reason to waste band-width just to agree."

First, I agree, that you'll build a tighter house with a hammer than a nail gun. A hammer is a simple tool that requires a little skill and touch. Avoid hammers with steel or fiberglass handles and only use a wooden handled hammer. Wood handles don't transmit shock to your arm and will keep you from being on a first name basis with your orthopedic surgeon. Match the size of the hammer to your job and I wouldn't use anything bigger than a 16 oz. for finish work. I've looked at the Hart finish hammer and it looks like a good hammer but me and my 16 oz. Vaughan have gone a lot of miles together and it just feels right now.

Mostly I wanted to step in and disagree about gluing miter joints when trimming. With a little experience you can learn how wet a house is with new houses always being full of moisture. Glue can't overcome the anisotropic characteristics of wood. I don't remember the exact amount but the average sized new house out gasses something like 55 quarts of water a day for the first few months after completion. All the wood in the house will react to this and change dimension across the grain but not with the grain. This means that the physical angle cut on all those miter joints is going to change. Glue, finish or any other fix for this can, at best, break up the wood at the miters.

When trimming a new house, I suggest cutting miters on standard 2 1/4" casing so the joints are open about 1/32" at the toe. Don't nail the casing to the wall closer than a foot to any miter joint but do nail to the jamb as close to the joint as you can and still avoid splitting the wood. The exception to this is the hinge side of doors and make sure you nail casing to the wall at the location of the top hinge. Close the joint by pulling the casing away from the wall and use a single nail from one side of the joint or the other to hold the joint tight. Don't mess with the joints again until just before the painters start. Then check them and adjust as necessary. There's a pretty good chance a few of the joints will open a few months after the house is completed and occupied. Joints put together like I suggest are easy to fix. Scissor or cross nailed joints are a lot more difficult and joints that have been glued will likely have broken grain that makes pulling the joint tight again impossible.

Wood trim is going to move as its moisture content changes. You can't stop it. You can either work with or against wood's anisotropic nature. Life is easier when you don't try to fight the physical properties of materials you use.

Oh, a pin nailer has some functions in trimming a house but the bulk of the work should be done with a 15 ga. finish nail gun.

Larry Williams

Danford C Jennings
04-13-2002, 08:47 AM

You make some good points, though I've not had any problems with the mitred corners on casing opening up. My take is becase the side casing is nailed into the edges of the jack studs and jambs, don't know what to think about the top casing and the header...It's interesting though, any nail popping on dry wall I see is usally on the studs and celing joists, not around the headers. 'Course now days most dry wallers I know use screws and can't recall seeing any popping in those cases. I wonder if it would be because I use ardox finish nails?

Your point on wood handles is precisely why I used a Vaughn and then Hart for framing. By the way, Hart does make a 16 oz finish which I did consider too. I love those hammers and I just don't "need" another one. I also have a couple of Warrington's, 10oz and 120z. I'm at the point where my tool cabinet is pretty well filled up and have resisted the inclination to build another one; I'd end up trying to fill that one up too. ;)

Any who, if you can't locate a 16 oz Hart, let me know and I'll pick one up for you and mail it out.


Paul H.
04-13-2002, 09:46 AM
If you want a single "do all" nail gun, use a 16 guage that will shoot 3/4 to 2 1/2 brads. Porter Cable makes one. As a professional, I have 6 different size guns. On trim installs, An angled 15 gauge gun using 2 1/2 nails and a 18 gauge gun with 1 1/4 brads for casing and small trim and doing corners ect..
Angle the nails so trim doesn't pull out easily, and use dabs of liquid nail on base, that way it will not pull away from the wall over time.

Larry Williams
04-13-2002, 12:08 PM
Thanks for the offer, Dano! I don't know if it's fortunate or unfortunate but my days in carpentry are over. What little I'll do on my own house in the future doesn't justify a new hammer. There's not a lot of demand for one-armed carpenters and I wanted to move to what I'm doing now anyway. I'd really like to have full function of my left arm back but not if it means going back to construction. 25 years of what seemed at times like fighting everyone just to be able to do jobs right was never completely off-set by the satisfaction of walking through a finished job I was proud of. Sub-contracting always left me feeling that I ended up doing the general's job with none of the financial rewards and general contracting seemed to be basically baby sitting too many subs who really should have never been in business in the first place. I just wasn't cut out for it and lost way too many nights' sleep in the process.

Even with a gimpy arm, I'm happier now.

Larry Williams

Danford C Jennings
04-13-2002, 08:24 PM

I hear you loud and clear...I've gone through the same thing. I'm sorry to hear that your wing is still giving you problems but, the most important thing is that you are happy;that is good to hear.


Tom D
04-14-2002, 09:54 PM
Gee, all this hammer talk makes me feel like I just fell off the turnip truck. I love my air nailer.

04-14-2002, 10:11 PM
I onl have 7 hammers...how many more do I need.

2 From Grandpa
1 Daddy bought me when I was probbaly 8 and my friend and I were going to start a building company...Daddy bought me some saws and a tool box as well :)
1 Ball Pin hammer I found lying in the street when all the houses were being built. It sat there for about 3 days...then I claimed it.
2 That my Dad had....he doesn't know there mine now :)
And a rubber mallet.

How many more do I need before I can be satisfied?