What is a Brad Nailer?

A brad nailer is a powered nail gun that shoots 18-gauge brads. If you’re unfamiliar with what brads are, they are essentially thin nails. These brads are quite thinner than the 15 and 16-gauge nails used by finish nailers. Brads also come with a very thin cross-section resulting in smaller nail holes once the nail sinks into the surface of the workpiece. This means that less or no hole filling at all is required to fill the hole as you finish the job.

If we talk about the length of the brads – it usually ranges from 5/8 inch up to 1-1/2 inches. Due to the small length and cross-section of brads, a brad nailer is mainly used for extremely small and delicate pieces of trim.

Brad nailer is generally used by woodworkers and finish carpenters. If you are a DIYer or newbie in the profession of woodworking, this guide is made just for you as it will get you up to speed with everything that you need to know about a brad nailer, including its types, its usage, the safety considerations you need to make, and more.

So, let’s begin!

Brad Nailer

What are the Basic Components of an 18-gauge Brad Nailer?

There are ten basic components of an 18-gauge brad nailer, each of which has a role to play in its operation.

  1. Air Inlet
  2. Nail Slide Release
  3. Belt Hook
  4. Magazine
  5. No-mar Tip
  6. Latch to access clear jammed fasteners
  7. Trigger
  8. Depth Adjuster
  9. Handle
  10. Adjustable Exhaust

Types of Brad Nailers

A majority of brad nailers in the market are pneumatic, meaning that to power the tool, they need a hose connected to an air compressor. Apart from that, there are also cordless brad nailers, which haven’t been so popular until recently. This type of brad nailer makes use of a rechargeable battery along with a compressed air canister inside the tool to generate the power that drives the brad into the wood.

If we dive deeper a bit deeper into the anatomy of brad nailers, a major chunk of them are straight clip variety, meaning that the magazine holding the clips of nails runs perpendicular to the driving cylinder. On the other hand, recently, angled brad nailers have also made an entry into the market. This new variety makes it far easier to fit the tool into tight spots.

Features of a Good Brad Nailer

There are certain features that you can look for in a good brad nailer. Here is the complete list.

  • Shoots a range of brad lengths
  • Smaller tip to reach tight corners
  • A clear line of sight to where the brads stick out
  • A comfortable handle
  • Has a dry-fire lock-out that prevents the gun from firing when the last brad has been shot
  • Light-weight, in the case of battery models

How to Use a Brad Nailer?

Using a brad nailer the right way involves several steps. Follow them to obtain your first desired trim.

  • To load the brad nailer, interact with the slide release.
  • Pull out the magazine slide.
  • Insert the brads into the magazine, with the pointy ends facing down.
  • There are specific grooves for different-sized brads so make sure that you insert yours in the right ones.
  • Close the magazine slide so that it falls right back in place.
  • Connect the air hose to the air inlet.
  • Now, rotate the adjustable exhaust such that it directs away from your face.
  • Holding the trim in place, place the tip on the spot you intend to nail.
  • Push the gun into the wood until the safety releases.
  • Finally, pull the trigger.

Brad Nailer Usage Tips

Brad Nailer

While using nails as a beginner, you may run into a variety of problems. To cater to them, there are some tips and tricks that you can keep in mind.

Drive the Brads Deeper into the Wood

Oftentimes, when you’re fixing a brad into the wood, if it’s too close to the end or edge of the board, you will notice that the board starts to split. To prevent that, make sure to affix the brad further into the board.

Now, of course, each type of wood has unique splitting properties. So, as you’ll experiment with different types of wood, you will get an idea of how close you need to fix the brad to the edge of a specific wooden piece to avoid splitting.

Remove the Protruding Brad

Due to the fact that brads are so thin, on some occasions, they may not sink all the way into the wood. On top of that, if you use a hammer and a nail set to pound the brad, you will find that it bends pretty easily.

So, instead of nailing in the protruding brad or trying to cut it off, it’s recommended that you remove it. For removing a brad, instead of using a hammer or a crowbar, always use a set of pliers.

Always Nail in the Hidden Side

When you’re nailing a brad into areas, such as door jambs, where only one side is visible, point the gun slightly to the hidden side so that even if the brad pops through, it won’t show.

Safety Considerations

Although a brad nailer is considered a much safer tool as compared to other forms of nailers, such as finish or framing nailers, they still have a chance of causing injury. So, always take the safety considerations that you would in case of any other power tool.

  • Wear safety glasses
  • Keep loose and dangling items away from the workspace
  • Wear ear protection, especially if you are in a closed space and have a noisy air compressor
  • Remove air hose/battery when clearing jammed fasteners
  • Don’t remove or release the safeties
  • Keep your other hand away from the barrel while shooting the nail gun


If you have read up to this point, you’ve probably gotten a good enough insight into brad nailer and its usage to help get you started with your woodworking endeavors.

However, always make sure to take the necessary safety precautions as your safety is paramount. Also, if you feel unsure about a certain woodworking job, never hesitate to seek the assistance of a professional.

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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