What Is a Brad Nail Gun?

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  • Written By: Paul Scott
  • Edited By: R. Halprin
  • Last Modified Date: 06 November 2019
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A brad nail gun is a powered tool used to automatically drive brad nails into timber. These nailing gun variants are most commonly powered by compressed air, although electric versions are also available. The brad nails they drive are thin shanked with a flattened, almost T shaped head designed to be countersunk while leaving a minimal footprint in the timber. Common brad nail sizes range from 1/2 inch to 2 1/8 inch and are presented in strips for loading into the gun's magazines. The brad nail gun is most commonly used for finishing jobs in furniture making, cabinetry, and the fitting of baseboards and trims.

Nail guns are among the more commonplace tools in the carpentry, furniture, and cabinet making industries. They are designed to produce efficient, predictable nailing operations at volumes not possible with hand nailing. These tools are typically pneumatically, or compressed air, driven; electric nailers being less common. The brad nail gun is a popular finishing tool in these applications due to its speed and the ease of cosmetic cleanup involved after nailing.


Brad nails are generally small, thin shank nails with a flattened T shaped head. Their small diameter and head make them appropriate as countersink nails. This means that each nail is driven completely into the timber by the nail gun, thereby leaving only a small, rectangular hole in the surface of the wood. The nails offer good holding power, and the holes are easy to fill after nailing.

Brad nail gun design is similar to most nail gun types and generally consists of a cylinder and reciprocating piston which drives the nail into the wood. Nails are held in glued or laminated strips and loaded into a magazine which feeds one nail at a time into the drive mechanism. The cycle times on a nail gun are very quick, thereby allowing the operator to produce efficient, secure nailing as fast as he can advance the gun to the next nail position. Most brad nail gun models may be driven by small electric or gasoline powered compressors making them portable and easy to transport to and use on-site.

As is the case with all percussive power tools, the brad nail gun should always be used with the greatest care because the potential for serious injury is very real. The air supply should be disconnected prior to reloading or putting the gun aside while working, and it should never be pointed at anyone or anything other than the workpiece. Personal protective gear such as gloves, aprons, and eye protection should also be used whenever operating any nail gun.


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