Nail Guns for Woodworking

Workshopshed: The other week when we looked at job estimation, we spotted that time is often the deciding factor in how much a project costs. One way of reducing time is to upgrade your tools.

Emily from Pro Tool Guide shares her thoughts on one key tool upgrade for woodworkers.

Emily: If you like to do home repairs and improvements, you may think that you already have the required tools. Your toolkit may just include a claw hammer, a finishing hammer, and a wooden mallet. However, when you need to drive a lot of nails, a hammer will no longer do, and then you realize that you need a nail gun.

There are actually several different types so with a lot of options around, do you know which kind to buy? Do you buy them all or just one or two?

Types of Nail Guns

Nail guns are very useful as you go about your woodworking project. Knowing which one to use will make your work easier and faster to accomplish. So, educate yourself about nail guns and make wise and correct use of them. Here are the 7 different nailers you should be aware of:

1. Framing Nailers

A framing nail gun is classified as a power nailer. You use it to handle large woodworks or construction projects. These include fabricating wood framing for houses and decks and constructing room additions. You can also use it for sheathing, fence building, and wood siding installation. It usually uses 2 ½- to 3 ½ – inch long nails to join 2”x4” pieces of lumber.

There are two varieties of framing nailers: the round head and the clipped head. A clipped head nailer can hold more nails. Therefore, it is the best choice for projects that require the use of a large volume of nails. However, the building codes of some areas prohibit their use. So, it is best to check first before using them. A round head framing nailer, on the other hand, holds fewer nails.

So, if you are fabricating frames and are using heavy duty lumber, the framing nail should be in your toolbox.

Photo by Leo Fosdal

2. Roofing Nailers

Workers use these nailers to apply roof shingles, which are mostly made of asphalt or fiberglass. You can also use them in the installation of sidings to your house. These roofing guns are intended to drive coil nails, making for longer refill-time. The nails have flat large heads to protect the soft shingles from easily breaking.

3. Flooring Nailers

If you want to speed up the installation of your hardwood flooring, you should use flooring nailers. Its design makes laying tongue-and-groove floorboards simple and quick. All you have to do is hold the nailer against the board’s edge. Then, just drive the nail in with a moderate whack on the plunger. And, finally, you have the nails in at the right angle and depth.

4. Finishing Nailers

Finishing nail guns are used for lighter projects. These nailers are useful when installing cabinetries and assembling furniture. They are often used to “finish” a job, or for projects that require aesthetics. These jobs include moldings, door casings, crown moldings, baseboards, and trim work. The nails they use leave only a small imprint on the wood, thereby requiring less filling.

Finishing nailers use lighter and shorter gauge nails -14 to 16 gauge and 1-inch to 2 ½-inches in size.

These nailers are available either cordless or in air compression models.

5. Brad Nailers

A brad nailer is smaller and lighter than a finishing nailer. Woodworkers consider it the most versatile nailer that every DIYer must have in his toolbox. The brad nailer is useful for smaller woodworking and upholstery projects. This nailer is also appropriate for doing other precision work and general household repairs. Although it uses small nails (brads) that leave very tiny holes, these brads actually hold well. Therefore, a quality brad nailer is your best choice if you plan on purchasing a nail gun for almost all the woodworking tasks you do.

Choose one that is compact and portable, making it convenient for you to move around as you work on your project.

These nailers use 5/8-inch to 1 ½-inch brads. There are also a few models that can fire 2-inch long nails. These nailers are available cordless or with standard air compression hookups.


6. Headless Pinner

Woodworkers sometimes call these pinners nailers as 23-gauge pin nailers. They are the smallest nailers in the finishing nailers family. They shoot tiny 23-gauge headless nails, 3/8” to 2” in length. Most models, though, can only shoot nails with a maximum length of one inch. It would be good to remember that these pin nails do not offer any holding power. Craftsmen usually use this simultaneously with an adhesive like wood glue. Sometimes, they use headless pins just to hold pieces together or in place while the glue is drying up.

Headless pin nailers are best for tasks that use thin and delicate pieces that may break easily with other nailers. They are also good for crafts, jewelry cases, and hobby work.

These nailers are also available cordless or with the traditional hookup to a compressor.

7. Crown Stapler

A crown stapler is basically a staple gun. Instead of nails, they use staples or sometimes referred to as U-nails. The crown stapler is easy to use. It gives a sturdy grip and can hold well. Craftsmen usually use a crown stapler to fasten materials to a wood surface, such as upholstery and painter’s canvas. As with most nail guns, crown staplers also have cordless or traditional compressor hookup models.


With the variety of nail guns available on the market, it is not surprising that you would want to have a complete set for your workshop. You can eventually have that, but you have to take your resources and finances into consideration.
It is best to start out with a brad nailer for your collection. They are versatile and handy to have around. With a brad nailer, your home repair task will be easier and quicker to do.

Then you can add on to your set with a finishing nailer and continue adding based on your project’s need.

Since you are starting your collection, buying cordless ones is a better choice as they provide portability and convenience. Now that you are set up, do not forget to use appropriate precautions. Thereby, ensuring your safety as you work on your project.

Why wait? Get nailing!

About the Author

Hello, I am Emily from Pro Tool Guide. I’m a diehard DIY and Woodworking enthusiast. I love it so much that if I am late for dinner…I am probably finishing my project or creating something new. I also love cooking, praying, yoga, and the family life.

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