Finish nailers are the tool of choice when doing things like light framing (doors and windows), crown molding projects, door trims, and thicker stock. Most experts agree that a finish nailer is a tool for projects that fit in between a framing nailer and a brad nailer. Some professional woodworkers say you should start with a brad nailer since they are cheaper and work your way up to a finish nailer when projects require it. Finish nailers come in 15 and 16 gauge varieties with straight magazines and angled magazines. We did find that 15 gauge nailers received better overall reviews than the 16 gauge models. Paslode 16 gauge nailers are a great option to the 15 gauge models. Look for a finish nailer with nose pad clearance, easy depth adjustment, good accuracy, easy loading/unloading, and convenient jam clearing when needed. The nailer should be ergonomic and have a balanced feel in your hand.
Buying Guide - When it comes to head to head reviews, we usually turn to the reliable Consumer Reports magazine, but they don't have anything we could find on nail guns. Instead we found some excellent comparisons done by Workbench Magazine, Toolsofthetrade.net, and About.com in their woodworking section. We also came across individual finish nailer reviews at Onlinetoolreviews.com, Newwoodworker.com, and Toolsnob.com. Many featured 16 gauge nailers, but some went into the 15 gauge variety. The Workbench magazine article was the most in depth we could find and they rated the finish nailers for attributes like sight line, depth setting, accuracy/jump, marking, loading, unloading, jam clearing, ergonomics, and nose pad (both size and shape). Tools of the Trade did a recent article on 15 gauge finish nailers testing 10 of them. The angled pneumatic nailers were run for 12 weeks working on things like trim work, installing molding, hanging doors, setting hardwood stairs, and other projects when remodeling homes. They found that weight and feel were 2 of the bigger features to consider, especially if you are going to be working all day with one of these finishing nailers. Many carpenters and professional contractors chose the more expensive Hitachi NT65MA2 15 Gauge Angled Finish Nailer as their product of choice, but homeowners who don't need the tool as often may consider the cheaper (yet #1 rated on Amazon), Milwaukee 7140-21 15 Gauge Angled Finish Nailer. Expect to spend at least $100 to $180 for the corded models and closer to $250-$300 for the cordless models like the DEWALT DC618K. Where should you buy one at? We You can browse the top selling finish nailers online here.
Best Finish Nailer:
RECOMMENDED - The Milwaukee 7140-21 1-Inch to 2-1/2-Inch 15 Gauge Angled Finish Nailer is the #1 seller on Amazon and probably the best value amongst all of them at less than $130. Milwaukee also offers a 5 year warranty which most competitors don't match. The magnesium housing keeps the angled nailer lightweight and easy to handle. The 7140-21 from Milwaukee drives nails from 1 to 2 1/2 inches and the operating pressure is from 70-120 PSI. The nail capacity is 106 and you can switch from sequential to bumping fire modes quite easily. Most owners agree that the tool free depth adjustment is a nice feature and the reload indicator is convenient to have. Owners comments include "great for framing doors" and "best combination of durability and light weight". We found positive feedback from DIY homeowners up to professional contractors that rely on these power nailers every day. The 16 gauge finish nailer from Milwaukee is the 7145-21 model and it shoots 3/4 inch to 2 1/2 inch nails. It too is listed on Amazon and available for about $100.
Top Rated Finish Nailer:
RECOMMENDED - In many reviews done by professionals (carpenters, woodworkers, contractors, etc.), the Hitachi NT65MA2 15 Gauge 1-1/4-Inch to 2-1/2-Inch Angled Finish Nailer received excellent scores and was rated first by several. At 4.2 pounds in weight, the NT65MA2 is light yet still comfortable in your hand. It handles 15 gauge nails and owners say the dust blower is good when clearing a project before gluing. Other features like an easy to use depth drive adjustment and no-mar nose piece make this a well thought out tool. The Hitachi also offers a 5 year warranty (which is matched by the Milwaukee above). Many contractors note that the Hitachi performs better than their Senco and Max finish nailers. Comments from owners includes things like "sinks nails effortlessly", "plenty of power", and "works great on window installations".
Cordless Finish Nailer:
RECOMMENDED - The DEWALT DC628K Heavy-Duty XRP 1-1/4-Inch - 2-1/2-Inch 15 Gauge 34 degre is the one to consider. DEWALT has come up with a superior tool in many ways with the DC628K. Firstly, it's cordless so you don't have to deal with a cumbersome compressor or air hose to do a project. Many owners use this added convenience to work on things like entertainment centers, bunk beds, and bookshelves. Experts describe the DEWALT as "practical" and "flawless nailer". With almost zero misfires and a jam free experience owners say the finish nailer from Dewalt works great in both hard and soft joints. The 6 position dial for depth adjustments makes switching between various projects a breeze. The only drawback is the added weight that the battery adds to the nailer, making it harder to use over longer periods of time as compared to the corded models like the Milwaukee or Hitachi. The DEWALT DC618K Heavy-Duty XRP 18V Cordless 1-1/4 Inch - 2-1/2 Inch 16 Gauge 20° Angled Finish Nailer Kit is another top rated cordless model that provides power and performance with an 18 volt XRP battery. Reviews are incredibly positive for the DC618K on Amazon and other consumer websites.