Choosing The Best Pneumatic Finish Nailer

A finish nailer is a nail gun very similar to a framing nailer. A finish nailer utilizes a smaller gauge nail and is designed to nail smaller and thinner material without splintering. Most woodworkers use the nailers to attach trim and in furniture construction. Smaller jobs that take more finesse are suited for this tool. When it is time to shop for this tool it is helpful to know what to look for when choosing a best pneumatic finish nailer. There are some features that are personal preference while others are a must.

Things to Consider

Pneumatic tools are powerful instruments, but there are some things you need to consider before you purchase them. These types of tools need a compressor in order to run. It is important that you ensure the compressor you have can provide the amount of air pressure needed to run the tool correctly. The compressor is not the only required accessory, hoses are also needed to run pneumatic tools. The hose or hoses must be long enough to span the distance between the job and the compressor. If you are looking for a tool with maximum portability, a pneumatic nailer might not be the best choice. While it is the most reliable and powerful, it can be really cumbersome.

Be sure that it is a finish nailer that you need. There are also framing and brad nailers, which can look similar, but have completely different purposes. Remember, even though a finish nailer leaves a smaller indent or footprint than a framing nailer, there will still be a footprint. The indentation will be large enough to require a minimal amount of putty. A brad nailer has virtually no footprint, rarely needing to be covered.

Features to Look For

Trigger – nailers can have several triggers. There is the finger trigger, bump trigger, and timed trigger. The best of nailers will allow you to toggle between one of several modes. It is a completely a matter of personal preference when decide which is best. This is why one that offers more than one mode is ideal. It also gives you the opportunity to use different modes for different types of jobs.

Magazine – The magazine on nailers comes in either straight or angled. The majority of finish nailers, and virtually all framing nailers, are angled. The straight magazine is more difficult to use especially if you need to tilt the gun for proper alignment. The angled magazines cost more, but they are superior to use in unconventional spaces or with curved material. There is also the choice of stick or coil magazines. Coil magazines feed a coil of nails into the nailer. The nails are attached with small pieces of wire and rolled into a coil. One coil will have several hundred nails. Stick magazines feed the nails in using a stick that attaches twenty to fifty nails together using plastic strips. Unfortunately you don’t have the choice to switch modes on this feature. The volume of your typical projects will help you decide which magazine is best for you.

Depth Adjust – A lot of woodworkers claim this isn’t important as you can get self adjusting nails. However, it is a nice feature to be able to choose if you want to sink your nails flush, keep them protruding, or to countersink them. More expensive models will allow you to adjust the depth without changing the nail.


Finish nailers come in a variety of gauges. The smaller the gauge the longer nail it is capable of driving into a material. Certain gauges are suited to certain jobs. It is important to consider the majority of your potential projects to get the right gauge nailer.

15 Gauge – This is the largest of the gauges allowing you to use a nail that is up to 2 1/2 inches in length. It is best suited for large trim, furniture construction, and cabinet construction and installation.

16 Gauge – It is also possible to drive a nail up to 2 1/2 inches in length with this gauge. It has a bit more finesse making it a little better for finer jobs like attaching baseboards and crown molding.

18 Gauge – This is probably the most versatile gauge to get. If you plan on doing a variety of projects this is certainly the best size. It can drive nails in lengths of 1 1/4 inches up to a maximum of 2 inches long. Spend the extra money to buy an 18 gauge that drives a 2 inch long nail. It will maximize what is already the most versatile gauge of nailer.

23 Gauge – Purchase this gauge of a nailer only if you know that you have very specific and detailed projects. This nailer drives nails between 1/2 and 1 inch in length only. This is a really small nail and it is only suitable for detailed jobs like making picture frames or attaching very thin and small trim.

Figure out how you want to use your nailer and you will better understand what to look for when choosing a best pneumatic finish nailer.

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