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Brad Nailer VS Pin Nailer : Which One to Use and Why?

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If you’re starting a woodworking or home improvement project, you might be confused about when to use a brad nailer or a pin nailer. In terms of appearance, the nailers are very similar, but their functions are different. 

Both pin nailers and brad nailers have their own unique uses in construction and woodworking projects. 

So, you need to know the differences between a brad nailer vs pin nailer before you purchase one of these tools. 

As a convenience to you, we will explain what makes these two tools different from each other so that you can make an informed purchase decision.

Similarities Between a Brad Nailgun And a Pin Nailer

finish nails

Before we separate pin nailer vs brad nailer, it is important to know the similarities between these two power tools. The following are some similarities between these two nailers: 

1. Appearance

Both the brad nail gun and pin nailer are designed to be lightweight. When you hold these two handy nailers in your hand, they feel nearly weightless. This is because these tools are equipped with an ergonomically designed handle that makes them easy to use in any position. 

Some people even compare holding a brad nailgun in your hand to holding a hammer. They feel the same in your palm and they both require an equal amount of pressure to use. 

2. Safety Features

When you are using either a brad nailgun or a pin nailer, safety is extremely important. Both tools have built-in safety features that prevent accidents from occurring while you are using them. 

Safety features include a tip guard, an adjustable exhaust, and a contact trip mechanism. These power tools have a tip guard that protects your fingers from the tool’s edge when in use.

The exhaust directs air away from you so that you don’t breathe any harmful fumes while you are working on your project. 

A contact trip mechanism is used to stop the machine from firing when it bumps up against an object. This prevents you from shooting nails through your project and into the wall behind it.

3. Functionality

Both brad nailers and pin nailers are equipped with a straight magazine that holds the nails in place. 

A spring-loaded mechanism pushes the nails up into the machine and into the firing chamber when you squeeze the trigger. After the nail is in place, a separate mechanism in these tools is used to drive it into your wood. 

The firing mechanism will fire the nail by hitting a nail driver. Depending on which type you choose to buy, a brad nailgun and pin nailer can operate on compressed gas or battery power. Both nailers can be used to attach wood together.

Differences Between Brad Nailer vs Pin Nailer

crown molding

Now that you know a few of the similarities between two nail guns. Let’s talk about how these two tools differ from each other. The following are some of the significant differences between pin nailer vs brad nailer:

1. Nail Size

The most significant difference between a brad nailer vs pin nailer is the size of the nails they shoot. The nails used in these tools are extremely different from each other. 

A brad nailgun shoots 18-gauge nails that are 3/8 inch to 2 inches long. On the other hand, pin nailers shoot 23-gauge tiny pin nails. These nails are only one inch in length.

2. Nail Type

The types of nails used in these tools are very different from each other. The nails used for a pin nailgun has headless pin. 

This means that the nail head is hardly visible. In contrast, brad nailers use nails that have a small head on one side. 

3. Holding Power

The holding power of a pin nailer vs a brad nailgun is another major difference between these tools. The nails used in a brad nailgun are thicker and wider than the nails used in a pin nail gun. 

Therefore, nails from the brad nailgun have decent holding power. Pin nailers are only used for temporary wood attachments. Their holding power is low compared to brad nailguns.

4. Versatility

Furthermore, a brad nailer versus a pin nailer differs in its versatility. The nails of a brad nailgun are more versatile than pin nails since they can be used for a variety of tasks. 

In contrast, pin nails are not flexible enough to be used for a variety of projects. Originally, they were intended to join delicate workpieces only, which is why they are not versatile.

The Pros of Brad Nailguns

leave visible nail holes

When you consider which type of nailer is most appropriate for your project, it is important to know all of the advantages that brad nailguns possess over pin nailers.

1. Flexible and Ideal for a Variety of Uses

One of the advantages of a brad nailer is that it can be used for a wide range of applications. 

This makes it versatile and useful in a variety of situations. You can use it to attach wood, especially when the wood is delicate or thin.

2. Stronger Holding Power

A brad nailer is more effective for projects that require a lot of holding power. This makes it ideal for insecure and lightweight woodworking. In comparison to pin nails, the nails of a brad nailgun are more likely to remain in place. This makes them ideal for crown molding and other trim work.

3. Great for Base-Boarding

A brad nailer is a great choice for base-boarding. A pin nailer might not be strong enough to securely attach the baseboard, which means it will likely fall off after a little time. This makes it important to choose the right tool when you are working on your project.

4. Perfect for Base-Boarding

A brad nailer is a versatile tool to use when you are working with thin or delicate wood pieces. Thin nails from a pin nailgun can break easily when used on such materials. On the other hand, brad nails won’t break as often and they can help keep your project together better than pin nails do.

The Drawbacks of Brad Nailers

headless nails

Like all tools, there are some cons to using a brad nailer. You need to know about these cons before you buy one for your next project.

1. Nails Can Cause Splitting and Crack

One of the main cons with a brad nailer is that it may cause split wood especially hardwood, thin veneers, and delicate wood. If you are using a brad nailer on such wood, then it is essential to use glue along with the nails. This will help reduce the chances of splitting and cracking happening.

2. Need to Fill Nail Holes

When you are using a brad nailer, there will be a visible hole left behind. You will need to fill these visible nail holes with wood filler or putty in order to finish the project properly.

The Pros of Pin Nail Guns

wood glue dries

Before choosing which tool is right for the job, you should be familiar with some of the advantages of using a pin nailer. Here are some of the pin nailer pros when compared to brad nailers.

1. Won’t Cause Splitting or Cracking

When used on delicate or thin pieces of wood, pin nailguns do not cause splitting and cracking as brad nails do. Because pin nail guns have thin and narrow nails, you do not have to be concerned about splitting your wood. This makes them suitable for attaching delicate pieces, thin veneers, etc.

2. No Holes Visible

Since the nails are thin, they don’t create visible holes in your project when you use them. This is something that makes pin nails better than brad nails for some projects. So there is no need to use wood putty or filler to fill in holes.

3. Ideal for Delicate and Thin Trimmings

Pin nails are thin enough to fit in thin and delicate trim pieces. This makes them appropriate and effective when you are working with such pieces.

The Drawbacks of Pin Nail Guns

building cabinets

As you plan to purchase a pin nailer, you should be aware of some drawbacks of the tool. Some cons come with many pin nailers. These include:

1. Can’t Hold Together Sturdy Wood

Pin nails are not ideal for working on projects that require a lot of holding power. They have very tiny nails to support the weight of thick and sturdy pieces of wood, so they can easily break under pressure. This makes them less flexible than brad nailers are.

2. Does Not Provide Long-Term Support

A pin nailer must be used in conjunction with glue or adhesive. This means that you can’t rely on them to hold together your project for a long period of time. The glue or adhesive will eventually wear down and the pin nails will lose their strength.

When Should Brad Nailer Be Used?

thicker wood

If you wish to install crown molding, shoe moldings, wainscots, window frames, or baseboard trim permanently, a brad nailgun will be the best choice. You can easily use a brad nailer for this purpose.

When Should Pin Nailer Be Used?

finish nailer

If you are working on a small or temporary project, then you can use a pin nailer. It is ideal for attaching thin trims, super-thin veneers, tiny furniture trim, and other delicate pieces of wood.

The Types of Brad Nailers

other nail gun

There are two types of brad nailers available on the market today. The first type is a pneumatic brad nailer, and the second type is an electric brad nailer. As well, electric brad nailguns are classified into two types, namely corded brad nailer and cordless brad nailer. Here are some specifics:

1. Pneumatic Brad Nailer

This type of brad nailer is pneumatically powered and requires an air compressor to function

The compressor produces compressed air that powers the nailer. With this type of tool, the compressor must be plugged into an electrical outlet. For skilled and professional woodworkers, this type of brad nailgun is the ideal choice. 

2. Electric Brad Nailgun

The second type of brad nailgun is an electric model. As the name implies, this type of nail gun is powered by an electric motor. 

This provides a few distinct advantages over pneumatic models. Because it doesn’t require compressed air to function, there are no bulky air hoses or long compressor cords to get in the way when working on a project. Electric brad nailers have two types. These are corded brad nailer and cordless brad nailgun.

  • Corded Brad Nailgun

This tool is powered by a cord that attaches directly to an electrical outlet. The benefit of this type of power supply is the unlimited supply of energy without having to worry about running out of a battery charge. 

  • Cordless Brad Nailgun

This type of brad nailgun is powered by a rechargeable battery. These tools are easy to use and carry around, making them perfect for portable projects.

The Types of Pin Nailers

other nail guns

There are two main types of pin nailers available on the market today. Pin nailers are also powered by either an air compressor or a battery. The two types of pin nailers include:

1. Pneumatic Pin Nailer

This type of pin nailer is pneumatically powered and requires a compressor to function. The compressor produces compressed air that powers the nailer. With pneumatic pin nailers, the compressor must be plugged into an electrical outlet.

2. Electric Pin Nailer

The second type of pin nailer is an electric model. As the name implies, this type of nail gun is powered by an electric motor. There are two types of electric pin nailers. These are corded pin nailers and cordless pin nailers. 

  • Corded Pin Nailer

First, we have the corded nailer. This type is powered by an electrical cord. An electrical source is connected to the cord. 

  • Cordless Pin Nailer

One of the other types of pin nailer is a cordless one. This type is powered by batteries. It has an in-built motor that can operate without any cord. 


The following are some of the most frequently asked questions regarding brad nailers and pin nailers.

Are Pin Nails Compatible with Brad Nailers?

No, you cannot use pin nails in a brad nailer because it is not designed to handle them. Pin nails are too thin for the groove of a brad nailer. Pin nailer nails are also shorter than the nails that a brad nailer uses.

Can a Pin Nailer Be Used for Baseboards?

No, you should not use a pin nailer for baseboards. Pin nails are too narrow and thin that they can’t hold baseboards in place. Pin nailers are suitable for thin trim pieces. 

Does a Pin Nailer Work Well for Quarter Round?

The use of pin nails on the quarter round is not appropriate. While they are thin enough to fit in the grooves of the trim piece, they are not strong enough to hold it in place. 

A pin nailer must be used with an adhesive or glue for additional holding power. In addition to having a head, the nail from a brad nail gun is appropriate for quarter rounds. It is also stronger than headless pins.

Can I Put Staples in My Brad Nailer?

There is no way to use staples in a brad nailer. Instead, you can use staple guns. Therefore, if you require the use of staples, you should choose a brad nailer staple gun combo. You can load both staples and brads into this combination.

Is the Brad Nail Strong?

Brad nails are not as strong as other nails. That is why they should only be used for light projects. 

They cannot handle holding together sturdy and thick pieces of wood. However, compared with pin nails, brad nails are more robust.

Is It Possible for a Brad Nailer to Use Different Sizes of Nails?

It is not possible to use different sizes of nails in a brad nailer. It is designed specifically for 18-gauge brad nails with lengths. Only the same type of nails should be used in a brad nailer to avoid breaking it.

How Much Pressure Is Appropriate for a Brad Nailer?

When it comes to pressure, brad nailers are more flexible. It is recommended that you use a brad nailer with a 60-120 psi pressure.

Are Brad Nail Guns Similar to Finish Nailers?

The brad nail gun is not the same as the finish nailer. A brad nailer uses 18-gauge nails with a nail head. The finish nailer, on the other hand, shoots 15 or 16 gauge finish nails. 


As you can see, there are some differences when it comes to brad nailers and pin nailers. Pin nailers provide temporary or light holding power for your project while a brad nailer is used for the permanent attachment of trim pieces. 

Brad nails are thicker than pin nailers, so they are more suited for thick pieces of wood like quarter round.

Pin nailers must be used in conjunction with wood glue or adhesive, while a brad nailer can hold on its own. With this article, we hope to clarify the differences between a brad nailer vs pin nailer and when to use each.

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