Updated: November 2017
Brad Nailer Reviews:
- What is a brad nailer?
- Benefits of using a brad nailer
- How much do brad nailers cost? Which should I buy?
One of the first questions we routinely get from visitors is "Are brad nailers and finish nailers the same?". The simple answer is no, although some woodworkers use both tools to do similar jobs. Essentially the brad nailer is very lightweight and meant for precision work with wood or trim projects. Also, brad nailers are about 1/2 as expensive as finish nailers, so they are the better deal if the work you are doing doesn't require the need for a finish nailer.
Brad nailers, also referred to as staplers or tackers, typically drive nails that range between 5/8 inch to 2 1/4 inches, while other models go from 3/4 inch to 2 inches. The smaller nail heads on a brad nailer make them less visible when putting them into furniture or baseboards. Expert woodworkers and carpenters say the brad nailers are great when working with small furniture and craft projects. One common use for a brad nailer is to hold objects together while the glue dries. Many woodworkers that do craft projects swear by their brad nailers as an essential power tool.
The video below shows a review of the Hitachi NT50AE2 18-Gauge 5/8-Inch to 2-Inch Brad Nailer:
Brad Nailer Buying Guide
The vast majority of brad nailers use compressed air to fire out their nails while some are cordless and require no air hose for their power. The pneumatic brad nailers are definitely superior to the cordless variety in that they have more power and work faster. The cordless models are great for those that don't like the limitations of an air hose when moving around and they are somewhat easier to get into tight spots.
You will pay a premium for a cordless model ($200) while the corded brad nailers are mostly around $100 or even cheaper. In head to head reviews that we read online and in woodworking magazines, brad nailers are often used when doing cabinet projects, paneling, door casings, and when adding trim to larger projects.
All brad nailers in our article here are the 18 gauge (finishing nailers are 15 and 16 gauge) variety. Almost all reviews we could find posted online generally agree that brad nailers are solid power tools that are easy to use, versatile, and accurate. Only a few models from Makita and Bostitch received less than stellar feedback. The leading brands are Hitachi, Milwaukee, DeWalt, Porter Cable, Senco, Campbell Hausfeld, and Paslode. The best comparison between brad nailers we could find was done by Wood Magazine and they rated the top selling 18 gauge nailers including the Hitachi NT50AE2, DEWALT D51238K, and the Porter-Cable BN200A. They tested the brad nailers for driving efficiency, jam clearing ease, low/empty indicators, lack of recoil, ease of setting drive depth, and handle and trigger comfort.
Roland Johnson on Taunton.com also did an in depth review of brad nailers and he scored them based on price, weight, driver guide cover removal, exhaust port adjustment, depth of set adjuster, and safety guard location. Toolsofthetrade.net has a great article that is a few years old but reviews brad nailers for feel, functionality, and overall features. We found other reviews on Newwoodworker.com and at Onlinetoolreviews.com for the Porter Cable and Ridgid models. You can view the top selling brad nailers online here.
Best Brad Nailer:
RECOMMENDED - The Hitachi NT50AE2 3/4-Inch to 2-Inch by 18 Gauge Brad Nailer is the #1 seller on Amazon and it gets 5 out of 5 stars from almost all that review it. Owners say the selective actuation switch which provides sequential fire or bump fire modes is easy to use and makes for quick work on any project. Those that use the NT50AE2 all day say that the lightweight aluminum body and composite magazine will help reduce your arm/wrist fatigue. The dial for adjusting depth of drive is simple to use - so whether you are working on furniture or trim work you'll always have the right nail depth.
The fact that the Hitachi brad nailer is only 2.2 pounds means you will get a lightweight nailer that is well balanced at the same time. Woodworkers say the Hitachi does wonders on finish work such as window and door trims and baseboards. Homeowners as well as professional contractors say the "Hitachi NT50AE2 exceeded their expectations" and "it's one of the best value brad nailers on the market".
Another option is the Porter-Cable BN200A which has recently been updated with a new model (#BN200B). The BN200A was near the top in all the head to head comparisons we read and owners can't say enough about this model in terms of reliability and performance. The operation was smooth, it handles well, and many people used it specifically for installing crown moulding and trim work. You can view the product and the latest model online at Amazon.
To check out how to use a brad nailer for all your finishing woodworking needs - click the image below to go to video.
Top Rated Brad Nailer:
RECOMMENDED - The Milwaukee 7150-21 5/8-Inch to 2-1/8-Inch 18 Gauge Brad Nailer is another top rated product from Milwaukee. Owner reviews on Amazon are overwhelmingly positive for the 7150-21 (23 of 25 owners gave it 5 out of 5 stars). The Milwaukee brad nailer powers 5/8 inch to 2 1/8 inch nails with an operating pressure between 70 and 120 PSI. The magazine capacity handles up to 106 nails and the magnesium housing will definitely reduce your fatigue. Owners like the control and maneuverability and the option between sequential or contact actuation (just turn the knob) makes for an easy to use brad nailer.
Contractors say the depth control is precise and the jam release works quite well. Milwaukee says that this tool works great on applications like decorative trim, book cases, baseboards, window beading, chair rail, base moldings, paneling, picture frames, crafts, and much more. Comments from those that bought the 7150-21 say it's "reliable", "does fast work", and "is perhaps the most underrated 18 gauge brad nailer on the market". We talked with a carpenter down the street who does crown moulding installs and he swears by this tool. You can view all the details on pricing and warranty online at Amazon.
Cordless Brad Nailer:
RECOMMENDED - The Senco Cordless 25 18-Gauge Brad Nailer is the one to consider. We had read great things about the Dewalt DC608 18 gauge straight brad nailer, so that is another model to look at. At $200 you are paying almost twice for what you can get the Hitachi or Milwaukee for, but you are getting a quality, cordless brad nailer. The Senco delivers up to 4 drives per second, and you get up to 1000 drives per battery charge. It will handle 5/8 inch to 2 1/8 inch 18 gauge brads and the nailer features a switchable drive control so you can go from sequential to contact actuation mode in seconds.
It comes with two 14.4 batteries, charger and hard case, and a 2 year warranty. Drawbacks - Some owners say the added weight of the battery pack on the nailer creates too much extra weight and makes it harder to operate the brad nailer for longer periods of time. Nevertheless, if you want the freedom of doing work without a cumbersome air hose attached to the nailer, then the Senco is a good option.
More videos and resources are here on our Brad Nailer Resource Page.
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