How to Use a Brad Nailer?

Whether you are a DIYer or a woodworking enthusiast who is just starting off, understanding how to use a brad nailer will go a long way in the fulfillment of your routine tasks. The use of a brad nailer may seem daunting to you at first but trust me, if you follow the instructions given in this guide carefully, you’ve got nothing to worry about.

So, first off, in the case of a pneumatic brad nailer, you need to make sure that the hose connecting the brad nailer to the air compressor is fully secured. After that, lubricate the piston to prevent any wear in the equipment. Next, you have to load your brad nailer. Finally, you can start using the brad nailer. Note that running a trial on a scrap piece of wood beforehand helps a great deal if it’s your first time.

In our guide below, we will delve into the details of the whole procedure of using a brad nailer. Nonetheless, before we do that, we will be addressing some of the queries you may have in your mind regarding a brad nailer.

So, let’s begin!

What is a Brad Nailer?

How to use a brad nailer

Mainly used for fixing small moldings and trim to a woodworking project, a brad nailer is made up of an 18-gauge wire, which is way thinner than the more common 15 and 16-gauge from which finish nailers are made.

Brads are basically very thin nails which upon sinking in the surface of wood, leave a smaller nail hole and hence, require negligible hole filling before finishing the wood piece. Due to the smaller diameter and shorter length (usually between 5/8 to 3/2 inches) of the brads, their holding power is limited. So, they can only be used for small and relatively fragile pieces of trims.

Types of Brad Nailers

Talking about the types of brad nailers, mostly they are pneumatic which means that for power, the tool relies on an air compressor through a hose. Apart from that, there are electric bard nailers, which can be further categorized into corded and cordless. Whether an electric brad nailer is corded or cordless, it uses the power generated by the discharge of an air chamber to fire the brads into the wood piece.

In addition, both pneumatic and electric brad nailers can be either of straight clip variety or angled. The key advantage that the latter holds over the former is that it can easily be fitted into tighter spaces.

Which Type of Brad Nailer Should I Buy?

As mentioned above, when choosing a brad nailer, you’ve got two options: pneumatic or electric. Of these, the more commonly used is pneumatic, which is not only cheaper but comes in an array of sizes and styles as well. It can also hold a variety of brad sizes, allowing you more flexibility with its use.

As for an electric brad nailer, they are much quieter, functions much quickly, and offer versatility in the nailing operation as well. The only downside is that they are a bit expensive.

If you are a novice woodworker, then a pneumatic brad nailer is probably your best bet.

How to Use a Brad Nailer – Step by Step Procedure

Brad Nailer

Required Supplies

  • Pneumatic or electric brad nailer
  • Brad nails of the required size
  • Air hose
  • Hose adapter
  • Wrench
  • Air compressor (in case of pneumatic)
  • Teflon tape
  • Adjustable wrench
  • Pneumatic tool oil
  • Cleaning cloth

1. Tighten the Hose Connection

Given that you have all the aforementioned supplies at your disposal, you need to secure the hose connection.

So, accordingly, wrap the Teflon tape around the hose adapter to ensure that the air doesn’t leak at the connection point. Doing so will guarantee the maximum available power in your brad nailer.

Having done that, connect one end of the hose adapter to the compressor and the other to the brad nailer. To make sure that everything is fitted as tightly as possible, feel free to use the adjustable wrench.

In the case of an electric brad nailer, to attain the power required to run the tool, simply plug it in a power outlet.

2. Oil the Air Piston

As a pneumatic brad nailer user, you will need to lubricate the air piston for proper functioning. This prevents friction and allows free movement of the piston. Note that only a few drops of oil will do; remove any spills with the cleaning cloth.

If you are using an electric brad nailer, lubricating it won’t be necessary.

3. Load Your Brad Nailer

Before you can operate either a pneumatic or an electric brad nailer, you must know how to load the tool. Due to the predefined capacity of a particular brad nailer, it varies from one brad nailer to the other. In any case, all you have to do is slide the brads into the compartment of your brad nailer.

It is recommended that you completely fill your brad nailer before commencing a woodworking project. This will allow you to keep on working uninterrupted.

4. Test Your Brad Nailer

Before using the brad nailer on the desired trim piece or molding, it never hurts to test the tool on a scrap wooden piece. Doing so will be beneficial for you because not only will you get a feel of a brad nailer works, but also, any unnecessary damage to your wood piece will be prevented.

5. Start Off the Nailing Process

Now that you are all set to using your brad nailer hold it and place its nose on the desired point of application.

While making sure that the workspace is clear, grab ahold of the handle of your brad nailer and position it 90 degrees to the wood piece. Finally, pull the trigger, and you’ll notice that the brad is nailed into the wood molding or trim quite conveniently.

Safety Precautions

Brad Nailer

If you have read up to this point, you must have realized that using a brad nailer is not as complicated as it seems. However, it must be noted that a brad nailer uses a considerable amount of force to drive brads, hence, it must be handled carefully. Here are some of the most important safety precautions you should take.

  • Ensure that your brad nailer is far from the reach of the children, whether it’s loaded or not.
  • Brad nailer is made for woodworking so make sure that you use it only on a wood surface.
  • Keep loose clothes and dangling items away from the workspace.
  • Always don the necessary safety equipment, for instance, safety glasses to protect your eyes, a dust mask to cater to fly-offs, and earplugs if you are in a confined place and you have a noisy air compressor.
  • If you are not sure whether the texture of the wood you’re working on is thin enough or not, watch out for kickbacks.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Use a Brad Nailer for Baseboards?

Since you will be attaching baseboards to drywall and not wood, brad nails are not a feasible solution for this purpose.

Instead, you can use a pin nailer. Pin nails are not only designed to attach well with drywall, but they also look cleaner.

Can I Use a Brad Nailer for Plywood or MDF?

A brad nailer is specifically made for thinner pieces of wood. Plywood, on the other hand, has a thick texture, so the brads are unable to be driven through.

For plywood, using a finish nailer is your best bet.


A brad nailer is a pretty handy tool when it comes to attaching thin molding and trims to a wood piece. Moreover, it does not require much effort to be used at all. All you have to do is follow a few steps, take into account your safety, and you are good to go. Over time, as you will work on different forms of wood, you will become more efficient at using it.

Liam Weissman

Hello and welcome to PowerToolGenius! My name is Liam and for the last 9 years, I have worked extensively with various power tools and accessories. I have tested hundreds of different brands and models and understand the industry extensively and have been working with tools my entire life!

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