There are some occasions where woodwork requires raw power. A heavy handed and indomitable approach is needed to tame this resistant material to your needs. However, working with timber often also requires grace and finesse. Fail to treat your wood with the proper care when working it and you may find that it is prone to splitting. Especially when hammering nails and brads through its surface. For those new to working with timber, the term brad may be unfamiliar. A brad is simply a more slender nail for use in smaller holes in projects where a larger nail might split or compromise the timber. Usually, a brad will be used when attaching lightweight trim or other adornments to wooden surfaces. And because the head of the brad is so small and discreet rarely will the woodworker need to apply wood putty to cover the hole left when the brad is hammered home.
While Brads can be hammered in by hand, this can be a frustrating process and one that requires just the right combination of finesse, power and precision. As such, many prefer to use a brad nailer to drive the brad home without the risk of damaging the delicate wooden trim.
While many brad nailers are pneumatic, requiring compressors, hoses or costly gas cartridges, there are many electric models on the market which deliver outstanding results and offer unsurpassed productivity. A brad nailer is a great alternative to the more widely used finish nailer as it offers a gentler touch that will help to preserve more delicate woods.
Let’s take a look at 5 of our favorites…
1. PORTER-CABLE PCC790LA
This battery-powered brad nailer by Porter-Cable offers outstanding performance at an appealing price point. Offering consistent driving depth, you can use this model all day long and still be able to countersink 18 gauge brads with visibly identical results.
Everything about this model from its impressive battery time to its tool-free jam release and stall release lever are geared towards harnessing worker productivity and ensuring consistent results. Depth adjustment is easy to control via a little wheel at the side of the device without the need for tools and keys. There’s even a depth adjustment window so you always know exactly what to expect before the brad strikes true.
Weighing in at just 5.9 lbs, this brad nailer is also one of the lightest in its class, so you won’t need to worry about arm strain compromising your precision aim. It even comes with an integrated hook for easy attachment to any tool belt.
The nailer uses 18 gauge brads with cartridges of 100 so that you can remain productive for hours at a time without the need to replace cartridges regularly. Sequential firing and trigger lock also combine for safe and easy working. Dual function LEDs can be used to illuminate working areas for added precision in dark spaces while also indicating errors clearly.
Another excellent addition is the 1.5 Ah 20 volt max lithium-ion battery included with this tool which is longer lasting and more reliable than its nicad counterpart. All in all, this is a great all-rounder that offers quality at an affordable price point.
- 100% Battery Power Of The Cordless Brand Nailer Eliminates Need For Compressor, Hose Or Costly Gas Cartridges
- Motor Design Of 18 Gauge Brad Nailer Provides Consistent Firing Power Into Various Materials And Climate Conditions
- Multiple Tool-Free Settings Of The Battery Brad Nailer Provide Ease Of Use
- Unit'S Lightweight And Optimal Center Of Graviy Provide User Comfort In Multiple Positions Reducing User Fatigue
2. DEWALT DCN680B
As you’d expect from Dewalt, this offering combines rugged performance with the sturdy build that makes it appropriate for any construction project or site.
This tool combines great power with accuracy, delivering consistent results with total precision. This is because the micro nose allows for a better line of sight while LEDs provide great illumination in those dark nooks and crannies, while also providing useful diagnostics. These can help troubleshoot and fix performance issues with a minimum of down time.
What’s more, because the brad driver uses a brushless motor you can be assured of greater power efficiency and more battery life for the 20V max (18V nominal) lithium ion battery (which is not included). Automatic shutoff also helps ensure that battery life will never be wasted when the tool is not in use.
This tool is highly versatile, allowing for driving depths from 5/8″ To 2-1/8″ with easy and tool-free adjustment.
For those who prefer the reassurance of a known brand, this entry from DeWalt offers a perfect blend of performance and precision that gets the most out of every battery charge.
- 100% battery power of the cordless brand nailer eliminates need for compressor, hose or costly gas cartridges
- Brushless motor of 18 gauge brad nailer maximizes runtime and durability
- Micro nose of the battery brad nailer improves line of sight and accuracy of nail placement (Compared to DEWALT DC608)
- Tool-free depth adjustment for precise countersinking of nails
- Tool-free jam release to quickly and easily clear nail jams
3. Makita XNB01Z
Weighing in at just 7 lbs, this entry from Makita is ergonomically designed and perfectly balanced to prevent the risk of hand cramps on long jobs, and with a range of tool-free adjustments, you’ll get accurate results each and every time.
As you might expect from a brand that’s so readily trusted by the construction industry, this tool is well suited to the rigors of regular use, and with an impressive magazine capacity of 110 18 gauge brads, you can keep going all day long. What’s more, when you do run out of “ammo” there’s no need to worry about damage to the wood caused by dry firing. The ant-dry drive mechanism precludes the possibility of dry fire, while the LED battery life indicator lets you know when you need to down tools for charging.
This entry is also 100% battery powered and runs on a 12V max lithium-ion battery which will drive 1000 nails on a single full charge (although as with the Dewalt model this is not included).
The dual-mode operation makes it just as easy to drive brads sequentially or use contact nailing operation and switching between the two modes is fast and effortless.
- Drives a range of 18 gauge brad nails from 5/8" to 2", magazine capacity up to 110 nails
- 2-mode selector switch for sequential or contact nailing operation. Net weight (with battery): 7.7 pounds
- Easy to use "tool-less" depth adjustment dial for a wide variety of finish applications
- Anti-dry drive mechanism engineered to prevent driving blanks and damage to work surface
- The battery gauge indicates battery charge level
4. BOSTITCH BTFP12233
For those who value precision and finesse in their work, there is no better choice for a range of projects. However, please note that this is a pneumatically controlled tool with 1/4″ air fitting and rear air exhaust. Standard operating pressure is anywhere between 70-120 psi.
This brad nailer uses smart point technology to provide greater visibility and accuracy. And the smaller nose makes accurate nail placement much easier with no need to push the contact tip down to actuate the mechanism thereby risking damage to the delicate wood beneath.
Bostotch’s dial-a-depth control makes it quick, easy, and 100% tool-free to change driving depths at the usual range of 5/8″ to 2-1/8″. Another cool touch, aside from the integrated tool belt loop, is the built-in pencil sharpener. So you’ll never need to worry about a blunt pencil robbing your work of that all-important precision edge. And because the operation is 100% oil-free you’ll never need to worry about your work becoming marred by oil stains.
The nailer comes with a little accessory kit that brings that all-important value-added. Contained within are some sample brad nails, a sturdy carrying case for easy transportation, and some extra no-mar tips.
All in all, this is a highly reliable and precise pneumatic brad nailer.
- Smart Point Technology: The electric brad nailer features easy nail placement as a result of a smaller nose compared to current BOSTITCH nailers and no need to compress the contact trip to actuate the tool
- 18 gauge brad nailer drives 18 GA brad nails from 5/8-inch to 2-1/8-inch length
- Oil-free operation reduces the risk of oil stains
- Tool-free jam release mechanism for easy nail removal
- Dial-A-Depth control for precise countersinking of brad nails
5. WEN 61721
This is by far the most affordable entry on our list, but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t offer a useful range of functionalities or promise dynamic performance when you need it most. And weighing in at just over 2.5 lbs you won’t need to worry about fatigue slowing your productivity.
As with other entries on this list you can drive brads from 5/8 to 2” with precision and the tool’s slender profile allows for a clear line of sight and thus, greater accuracy when driving the nails home. The 106 capacity magazines makes it easy to tackle long jobs without stopping frequently to reload and the adjustable exhaust port means that you can direct pneumatic air output in whatever direction you wish according to your setup.
The transparent window on the side of the handle makes it clear to see when your brads are running low and cartridge replacement will be imminent. Furthermore, the hassle-free nose hatch makes the clearing out of jammed nails quick and easy so you won’t have to worry about lost time while you strip down your tool to find errant brad nails.
All told, this is an excellent budget-friendly pneumatic brad nailer.
- Shoot 18-gauge brads ranging from 3/8 to 2 inches in length
- Operate at 60 to 115 PSI with the 1/4-inch NPT air inlet fitting
- Features a depth adjustment wheel, a nail gauge, a rotatable exhaust, and a quick release 106-nail capacity magazine
- Hassle-free nose latch makes clearing jammed nails quick and easy
- NOTE: nails and case not included. Pneumatic nailer, need air compressor to drive
How To Use A Brad Nailer
This YouTube video does a great job of covering how to use a pneumatic brad nailer: