What Is A Brad Nailer and How To Use It (A Comprehensive Guide)

what is brad nailerThere are several different nail guns available on the market today. The nail gun is a tool that makes fastening construction materials together easier to do, faster to do, and because you have less bent nails, cheaper to do.

A brad nailer is a specialized type of nail gun. A brad nailer is not used for typical house construction, for those purposes you will need a framing gun. A brad nailer is used for the purpose of installing trim work like crown molding, baseboards, and window casings.

These tools are specialized, but they do make trim work easier, and more aesthetically pleasing. The trim is like the icing on a cake. It does not have to be put up, but when it is put on the project looks better.

There are several things to consider about cordless brad nailers. They are not all exactly alike, so it helps to know as much about them as you can before you decide to purchase one.

What is a brad nailer

A brad nailer is a specialized nail gun that shoots 18 gauge fasteners. They are primarily used to hold small pieces of board like trim boards in place.

The small diameter of the brads is preferred for delicate wood or small wood pieces because larger nail diameters can cause damages to the wood, or even cause the wooden pieces to split.

How To Use A Brad Nailer

The smaller diameter nails are driven into the board and the only thing that tells you a nail is there is a small hole that can easily be filled with wood putty if you desire, but this is usually not necessary. If you are painting the wood you may not even need wood putty because the nail holes are so small that the paint is capable of filling in the hole.

The average brad nailer can shoot a nail that is in the range of 5/8? long and 2 2/8 inches long. It is a wise idea to choose a brad nailer that will shoot the right length of brads for the type of wood working that you do the most often.

How to use brad nailer

Basically you employ the same usage techniques for using a brad nailer that you would apply if you were using a framing gun, or any other pneumatic nailing system.

You need an air compressor and an air hose with a hose adapter that will allow the hose to properly connect to the brad nailer. These items are easily purchased at your local hardware supply store.

You may also want to buy a roll of Teflon tape so that you can be certain that the connection between your air hose and your nail gun is secure.

Secure the Connection

Using the Teflon tape; wrap the connector fitting on the hose adapter. Connect the adaptor to the nail gun and tighten it as much as you can by hand.

Then use an adjustable wrench to further tighten the adaptor. You have to get this adaptor in place snugly so that you have no air leaks.

Oil the Tool

You will need to use pneumatic tool oil to lubricate the tool. This lubrication is vitally important to help the gun function properly. One of the side effects of NOT properly oiling these tools is the jammed nails. Oiling the tool reduces the possibility of nail jams occurring.

You only need a few drops of oil. Clean up any excess oil with a soft cloth.

Load the Nails

Your brad nailer will hold a specific number of nails. The manufacturer instructions will tell you exactly how many brads the unit will hold at one time.

Connect the Air Compressor

When the air compressor that you are using is pressurized connect one end of the air hose to the compressor and the other end of the air hose to the nail gun.

Nail Gun Magazine

Nailing with the Brad Gun

You are now ready to shoot the brads into the wood you are working with. The tip of the brad nailer should be at a 90 degree angle to the surface you are nailing.

When the tip is in position you pull the trigger on the device and allow the brad to be driven into the wood.

Types of brad nailers

You basically have a choice between two types of brad nailers.

The Pneumatic Brad Nailer

The pneumatic brad nailer is powered by the force of air being pushed through the air hose that connects the unit to a pressurized air compressor.

The pneumatic nailer is very easy to use, and most people who own other pneumatic nail guns like framing guns, finish guns, or pneumatic staple guns, will choose to use the pneumatic brad nailers.

These tools are very powerful and you should always handle them with care. The brad may be smaller in diameter than the nails shot by a framing gun, but those brads can still do a great deal of bodily damage to you.

The Electric Brad Nailer

The electric version of these tools does not require an air hose or connections to an air compressor. They are simply powered by electricity and have an electric supply cord that plugs into a standard 120 Volt electrical outlet.

The electric brad nailer is not quite as powerful as the typical pneumatic gun is. The pneumatic version drives the brad in with a greater amount of force so the head of the brad is rarely seen. The electric version does not have the same driving power so the heads of the brads may still be visible.

Brad Nail Sizes Chart

The size of the brad nail that you will buy will be dependent on the size of brad your tool can accommodate, and the materials you are working with.

Length of Brad

The length of the brad that you will be using is dependent upon the material you are nailing with it. You want to choose a brad nail that is three times longer that the thickness of your material. Your desire is for the brad to go into the material at least three quarters of the way without completely penetrating the material so that a portion of the brad nail sticks out past the back of the board.

Nail Sizing

When you shop for brad nails the nails will be labeled according to the penny scale that is used with most nail varieties. You can buy an 8d, or 12d, or 16d, and so on. This sizing is in reference to the length of the nail.

Nails are also measured according to their thickness. The thickness is the diameter of the nail shank and this is referred to as the gauge of the nail. You can buy brad nailers that use brads that are thicker or thinner than the 19 gauge nails but the 18 gauge is the most common. The 18 gauge is versatile and can be used on many different types of wood, and thicknesses of wood.

Other than the length and gauge of the nail you also consider the type of shank the nail has. The all-purpose brad has a smooth shank with nothing special about it. The ring shank is perfect for holding something in place because the nails are very hard to pull back out of the wood, so the sun will not draw the nails out.

The spiral shanks are used with hardwoods. The spiral shanks will spin as they are shot out of the gun so they enter the wood in a similar manner to a screw. They have extreme holding power and you can use smaller diameter nails thus preventing wood damage when the nail enters.

How to load a brad nailer

Loading a brad nailer involves a little more than just sliding the brads into place in the gun. You have to consider all of the nailing elements and make sure that everything is set for the application you will be doing with the device.

You must adjust the air pressure dial to the proper setting so that the brads will be driven properly into the wood. The greater the air pressure the deeper into the wood the brad will go.

You must adjust the depth gauge on the nailer so the gun will be held the appropriate distance from the material.

You press the magazine lock and gain access to the magazine where the brads are held. Load the magazine and slide it closed.

Final Thoughts

A brad nailer is a handy tool that helps you apply the decorative trim pieces to your building projects. These guns shoot various lengths of nails, but for the most part the diameter of a brad is an 18 gauge.

A brad may have a head that is off to one side of the nail, or they may have no head on them. The choice of brad styles will be based on the type of work you are doing with the nail gun, and the type of wood the nail is being driven into.

 

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