What is a Brad Nailer?

Carrie Grosvenor

A brad nailer is a handheld power tool that shoots brad nails into place. Brad nails are small, thin, finishing nails that are either headless or have narrow heads that protrude only slightly to one side, allowing the nails to become embedded when they are hammered into wood. Brad nailers come in pneumatic and electric varieties. A pneumatic nailer uses compressed air to create enough force to shoot the nails and must be used with an air compressor.

Brad nailer being used to secure baseboard to a wall.
Brad nailer being used to secure baseboard to a wall.

Qualities and Advantages

For speed, power and dependability, a pneumatic brad nailer is considered an excellent tool. The compressed air ensures a clean shot and can shoot out several nails in a row. This model typically has a cord attached, which can be somewhat limiting. A cordless electric model doesn't have the same amount of power and doesn't work as fast, but it can get into high or difficult spots more easily.

Brad nail guns are most commonly powered by compressed air.
Brad nail guns are most commonly powered by compressed air.

One of the biggest advantages to a brad nailer is that it can be used without the need for clamps. Simply adding a bit of glue and holding the pieces in place is enough, because the brad nailer works quickly and accurately. The tool itself is generally light and comfortable to work with. Brad nails and nailers can be a good solution for small woodworking projects or adding detail and trim to larger projects.

On most models of brad nailers, the user can substitute staples for the brad nails, so a separate staple gun doesn't have to be carried around. The nailer also is useful for cabinet work, for nailing in blind spots or around corners and for a host of other home-improvement tasks, such as wall paneling or window and door casings. The brad nailer eliminates the need for pre-drilling, which can cause wood to split.

Tips for Use

When using a pneumatic brad nailer, one should keep in mind that air compressors create water that can end up running through the tools. Applying air tool oil to the air fitting will help to reduce the amount of water buildup in the nailer. For someone who doesn't have an air compressor, there are kits available to purchase that include both a handheld compressor and a brad nailer.

Safety Tips

When using a brad nailer, there are some basic safety tips that the user should keep in mind. The air hose should be disconnected or the nailer unplugged when it is being reloaded or when not in use. The nailer should be kept away from children and pets, and hands should be kept out of the path of the nails. Wearing safety goggles is advised when using any power tools.

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Discussion Comments


How frequently should a pneumatic nailer be oiled?


What causes the brad nailer to stop expelling the nails? I only get holes in molding in place of the nails.


Can a 2" Brad Nailer be used for Crown Moulding? 3 1/2" is the largest I will be using. I just need to know if the TNT kit(compressor and nailer) I saw advertised will do the job. It uses up to 2" brads.


can i use a brad nailer to secure laminate flooring on stairs?


would this be a good tool to buy for doing a simple project like wainscoting or a chair rail?

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