Pin Nailer vs Brad Nailer: Which You Should Buy for Your Next Projects

Finish carpentry is always an essential part of most projects like home renovations and cabinetry. Whether you are working on trim, crown molding or baseboards, you will need the right nail gun for the job. And although there are many types of nailers, in most cases you will need either the pin nailer or brad nailer for the finish work.

Having both guns in your workshop would be the best idea because you can use them for different things. However, pneumatic tools can be very pricey and so it might not be possible to get both the pin and brad nailers at ago. And so it is important to know what they are all about, their differences and how to choose between them.

What’s a Pin Nailer

Pin Nailer

As the name suggests, a pin nailer is a type of nailer that shoots some ultra thin pins. The pin nailer is one of the smallest finish nail guns that you can get, and it shoots 23-gauge pins that range in sizes from 3/8-inch to 2 inches. This nailer shoots headless pins or those with a slight head, and it is always the perfect choice when you want something that does not leave visible holes on your workpiece.

Despite the small size of this nailer and diameter of the pins that it shoots, it can still penetrate even the hardest hardwood and do it with a lot of ease. And although the pins do not have a head they still provide a significant amount of holding power. They are an excellent pick when you need to hold two pieces together as the glue dries.


Although the pin nailer is one of the nail guns that woodworkers use the least, it is still very handy for several applications. In most cases, woodworkers will use it to hold two boards or pieces of wood together for the glue to dry. This nailer is also the star when it comes to the installation of small and medium size moldings on furniture, cabinets and interior millwork.

What is a Brad Nailer

The brad nailer gets its name from the fact that it uses what woodworkers refer to as brads. Brads are just a thin gauge of nails that are ideal for attaching lightweight material without leaving massive holes like the conventional trim nailers such as the 15-gauge or 16-gauge. The brad nailer uses 18-gauge nails which are quite small but still offer almost the same holding power as the 15 and 16-gauge nails.

Different types and brands of the brad nailer will support different lengths of nails, but in most cases, they are between 5/8-inch and 2 inches long. These nails have a distinguished flat head, and although they look and feel delicate, they have enough holding power. And this is why the brad nailer is one of the most common finish tools in woodworking.


The brad nailer is very versatile, and it is one of the most useful power tools in the workshop for finishing. These nailers are best suited for doing tasks that require high precision such as upholstery. You can also use them for other delicate applications like interior molding, finishing cabinetry and also for small trim and crafts.

Pin Nailer vs. Brad Nailer

Pin Nailer vs. Brad Nailer

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Regardless of whether you are new at woodworking or have been doing it for many years, the chances are that you will still find yourself in a dilemma on whether to go for a brad nailer or the pin nailer. While both can be handy in the workshop, it is important to compare them using the following parameters so as to make the right pick.

#1. Gauge

The pin nailer is a 23-gauge nail gun while the brad nailer is an 18-gauge. Gauge is one of their main differences and also the most important. The fact that the pin nailer is 23-gauge means that it will shoot thinner “nails” than the brad nailer. And this also means that it provides less holding power. Also, the 23-gauge pins are headless or with a small head while the 18-gauge nails always come with a flat head.

#2. Nail Size

Apart from the gauge, nail size is also an important factor to take into account when comparing between the two because it affects the holding power. The pin nailer will typically use 1-inch pins, but many brands will use pins that are up to 2 1/2-inch long.

As for the brad nailer, the nails length vary between 5/8-inch and 2-inches long. Despite the long nail sizes of the brad nailer the fact that it is thin means that it is least likely to split the molding or trim.

#3. Nail Type

The nail type is another significant difference between the brad and pin nailers. Brad nailers will use what woodworkers like to refer as brads, and they are just ordinary, but ultrathin nails and they come in a lightly glued magazine. But, unlike the pins that you get on the pin nailer, they have some heads which are visible on the workpiece when you use them for finishing.

Pin nailers, on the other hand, will use pins that are headless and so they will blend into the grain of the wood and become hard to see. Varnishing or staining the piece also covers them completely. These pins also come in a magazine where they are lightly glued together.

#4. Application

How you intend to use the nail gun is what should influence your choice when choosing between the two nailers. Most woodworkers will prefer to use the pin nailer for holding boards together so as to allow the glue to dry and in some rare cases to install small moldings. The brad nailer, on the other hand, is a multipurpose finishing gun that you can use to finish almost any projects from cabinetry to baseboards.


Both the brad and pin nailers will have distinct roles to play in your workshop because they are suitable for different functions. However, if you have to choose one from the two, it is important to go for a tool that you will use often and for most of your projects.

Most woodworkers will prefer to buy the brad nailer because it is a very versatile gun for finish carpentry. Also, in some situations, you can also use it in place of the 15-gauge/16-gauge because it provides sufficient holding power. However, if you tend to glue a lot, the pin nailer might also be a good choice as it makes the gluing tasks easier. The bottom line is to go for what you feel or think that you will need for most of your projects.