Taking on a DIY project can be an exciting way to spend your weekends. It can also save you money on house repairs, but it is vital to have the right tools for the job.
A brad nailer is one of these tools.
It’s a type of electric nail gun that shoots 18-gauge nails. This nailer is often used for light-duty work like securing trim and installing baseboards. Therefore, it’s essential to know how to handle this tool correctly, as doing so will go a long way in preventing injury.
Let’s look at what a brad nailer is and how to use it safely.
- The Brad Nailer
- What Is a Brad?
- Types of Brad Nailers
- Loading a Brad Nailer
- Get the Right Tool
The Brad Nailer
A brad nailer is a nail gun designed for delicate woodwork projects. It’s commonly used to attach small pieces of trim or moldings.
As the name suggests, a brad nailer is used on brad nails. Because of their thin gauge, these nails can be challenging to drive through the wood. That’s where the specialized nail gun comes in. It’s powered by air or electricity, making the task much simpler.
Because brads are thinner than standard finish nails, they are used in situations where finish nails may damage the material being used. Some people may assume that a brad nailer and finish nailer can be used interchangeably, but they often serve different purposes.
For instance, a brad nailer is handy when attaching delicate strips of wood. However, it may not suit hardier wood products, such as plywood and MDF. These tougher logs would require a finish nailer instead.
If you’re planning on doing some home improvement projects, such as replacing the kitchen cabinets, then a brad nailer is a must-have. Aside from helping with the finishing touches, you can also use it for general maintenance around the house.
What Is a Brad?
Now that we know what a brad nailer is, it’s also essential to understand the type of nails used. A “brad” is a nail made from 18-gauge wire and is thinner than a finish nail made from 15 to 16-gauge metal.
Brads also vary from finish nails in that they have very thin heads. This means that when they are driven into a piece of wood, they leave a much smaller hole. Therefore, you will not have to use much wood filler to hide the holes once you are done with nailing your project.
Brads are typically 5/8 inch to 1.5 inches in length. Because they are generally shorter than finish nails, they do not have the strength to hold up larger pieces of wood. Consequently, they are primarily used for delicate projects, such as applying small trim pieces.
Types of Brad Nailers
There are two kinds of brad nailers, air-powered and battery-powered. The air-powered, also known as pneumatic brad nailers, use a strong air compressor to drive in the nails. Meanwhile, battery-powered nailers are cordless and utilize electrical power to get the job done.
Cordless Brad Nailers
These battery-powered nailers are less stressful because there are no pesky cords to worry about. However, they tend to be more expensive than the pneumatic version and come with varying degrees of speed and power. Cordless nailers are often used to fire just one nail size.
Pneumatic Brad Nailers
Pneumatic nailers do not require a battery, so they tend to be lighter than the cordless type. You would, however, have to attach an air compressor for them to work correctly.
Pneumatic nailers are cheaper, but the hose you have to carry around for the compression can be inconvenient. These tools fire a nail as soon as you press the button, which is not precisely how the cordless nailers work. The cordless equipment will spin for a minute before shooting out the brad.
The power of the pneumatic version is ideal for heavy-duty use as it can drive nails into various materials with ease. It also comes with a gas-powered air compressor, suitable for thinner nails.
Most brad nailers in the market are pneumatic, but cordless tools are gaining popularity. Another type of nailer becoming more desirable is the angled clip design. Brad nailers often have straight clips, but other styles are being created that users find easier to use.
When shopping for a brad nailer, it’s essential to research and find the one that best suits your needs.
Loading a Brad Nailer
Different brands of brad nailers may not have the same steps, but they all work in the same fundamental way. Here’s how to load your brad nailer.
1. Check That the Brads are the Correct Size
Make sure that the length of the brads you are using is suitable for the nailer, usually between 5/8 inches to 2 inches. If the nails are too long, they won’t fit in the nailer. On the other hand, if they are too short, they will probably get stuck at the magazine’s tip.
It’s also essential to ensure that your brads are the correct gauge. Anything approaching the 16-gauge mark may be too large for your nailer.
2. Keep the Strips From Breaking
Although this isn’t an absolute necessity, it would be best to keep the brad strip from breaking. This will make for a smoother, more efficient operation.
3. Push the Brad Strip Into Place
Move the brad strip towards the firing end and push it as far as possible.
4. Carefully Close the Magazine
Move the magazine, ensuring that it locks into place. Some force is needed for this step but avoid slamming the magazine shut. Applying too much pressure may displace the brad strip.
5. Positioning and Depth Adjustment
Now that your brad nailer is locked and loaded, it’s time to balance the features that control nail depth. The depth gauge and air pressure gauge control the depth you will drive the nail. This is how to balance the two elements.
6. Find the Contact Point
Locate the contact point at the end of your tool. This point pushes down when you press the nail against the wood. The gun can’t be fired if the contact point is depressed as a safety precaution. Bear in mind that the nailer’s trigger is different from the contact point.
7. Find the Proper Depth
You will need to test if the nailer is driving nails to the correct depth.
First, find scrap material of the same thickness as the wood you will be using for your project. Adjust the air pressure gauge to the middle point and then do the same with the depth gauge. Next, fire a brad into the scrap material, and check to see if it protrudes. Adjust the air pressure accordingly until you achieve the depth you are looking for.
Once you are in the general depth range, use the depth gauge to fine-tune your settings.
8. Drive Brads Into Your Wood
The depth setting for driving the brads can vary depending on the project and the finish you’re working on. For example, you may want the brad head flush with the surface or recessed. However, bear in mind that if the head is too deep, the brad won’t be able to hold the material in place effectively.
It would be best to place the head level with the surface to ensure a firm hold. Of course, you could always apply wood filler to cover up any holes that may be left after driving in your brads.
Get the Right Tool
A brad nailer is a great tool to have around the house. You can use it to drive in those delicate nails that would otherwise bend if you try to hammer them in. This tool comes in handy for DIY projects and general house maintenance.