Picking the best nail gun for woodworking is a tiresome task.
You have lots of options – electric, pneumatic, and cordless. There are variations in types, angles, and gauges.
Different types include framing, roofing, brad, finish, and others; angles including– 21, 28, 30 and 34 degrees; gauge including 15, 16, 18g, 23, and so on.
Freeman Pneumatic Combo
Wen 18-gauge brad Nailer
Dewalt 18 gauge brad nailer
Then which one will be perfect for your woodworking projects such as furniture building, decking, cabinet making, DIY, or framing?
Yes, you may think of a hammer. But the hammer is suitable for here and there applications. For woodwork projects where you need to pound a lot of nails, a nail gun is inevitable.
Best electric – Arrow ET200BN Heavy Duty Electric Brad Nailer
Here are our top 5 picks for different purposes
Best pneumatic- BOSTITCH 15 gauge Finish Nailer Kit
Best cordless- PORTER-CABLE 20V MAX* Cordless Brad Nailer
Best for building furniture- Freeman P4FRFNCB Pneumatic Framing & Finishing Combo Kit
Best for large woodworking projects- NuMax Full Round Head Framing Nailer
How to pick the best nail gun for woodworking?
Tons of options are available out there. Some are good for indoor or garage use to make furniture while some are good for outdoor frame or deck building. You must contemplate your project type before picking one and other factors. Here is how you can pick the best nailer for woodworking.
What kind of nailer is suitable for woodworking?
Depending on the projects you are working on, picking the right kind of nailer is an utmost priority to achieve the desired result.
Framing nailer is suitable for any home construction or fence building woodworking. Its 8d to 16d nail driving capacity offers tremendous holding power to keep those wooden projects in place.
For any kind of Framing, sheathing, roof decking, subfloors, truss assembly, furniture, fencing, and assembling pallets and shipping crates, framing nailers are inevitable. You should pick it if you have a lot of large-scale building projects.
The 18 gauge brad nailer is the most common and versatile brad nailer for woodworking. You need a brad nailer for finer and trim works such as crown, baseboard, decking, furniture, picture frame assembly, cabinetry, and hobbies.
They shoot 5/8 to 1-5/8 brad nails to deliver strong holding power yet leave smaller holes. Some even go all the way up to 2-1/2″ brads.
Try a little adhesive while using a brad nailer for woodworking. The heads of the brad nails are smaller and they might pull through on softer woods, such as pine, easily.
You can use a finish nailer instead of a brad nailer or other woodworking. 15ga finish nailer is the most popular option for woodworking. The 16ga starts to be phased out. They shoot 1-1/4” to 2-1/2” long nails that offer enough holding power.
But finish nailers offer more holding power and leave a relatively larger (almost similar) hole compared to brad nailers.
You should pick brad nailers for building small furniture where finish nailers will come in handy for big furniture, finishing carpentry such as cabinet making, furniture, decking, and others.
Pin nailers come to work with finer and more precise woodworking tasks. They have no head and leave no holes.
21 and 23 gauge pin nailers are the most common that can hold smaller objects such as 1/4″ parts without leaving any holes.
It is mainly used for places where no load or pressure is applied. You can also use them to hold the alignment until gluing up. It is recommended to use glue with the pin nailer.
PIN nailers offer less holding power than finish and brad nailers and leave almost no holes.
Narrow crown staplers
It can be another good option. They drive 18 gauge staplers that are uncommon among nailers. Cabinet makers using dados will find it really helpful.
You can use them for 1/2” shop drawers as well. This one works well for uncommon structure, cabinetry, cabinet backing, decorative trim, and hobbies and crafts.
Framing, sheathing, roof decking, subfloors, truss assembly, furniture, fencing, and assembling pallets and shipping crates– Framing nailer
Door and window casing, chair rails, molding, trim, cabinetry – Finish nailer
Furniture, picture frame assembly, crown, baseboard, decking cabinetry, and hobbies– Brad nailer or pin nailer
For uncommon structure, cabinetry, cabinet backing, decorative trim, and hobbies and crafts – 18 gauge narrow crown stapler
You can also read Right nailer for deck building, building furniture, or cabinet making.
Electric, pneumatic, or cordless – which one is perfect for woodworking?
The nail gun has 3 variations in terms of power sources. Depending on the working area and project type, pick the right one.
Electric power source
Electric nail gun is the best for DIY woodworking projects. They offer less power compared to air-powered nailers but deliver the same precision you need.
They are also lightweight and easy to handle. You do not have to worry about the power supply as well.
Since electric nailers don’t freeze in really cold weather, people often use them in such conditions. But they come with operating expenses, for instance, electric bills.
You have to deal with the wire as well. Remember that they will work on pine and other softwoods but not on hardwood such as oak.
Pneumatic Nail gun
Pneumatic nailers tend to be lighter and drive nails faster than battery-powered or electric nailers. For heavy-duty work where you need to drive nails to thick wood like oak, pneumatic nailers come in handy.
They also make cool sounds while nailing. Besides, you will never run out of power to drive nails. They are even more affordable and lightweight compared to electric and cordless nailers.
That is why professionals use pneumatic nailers for woodworking projects. But they do not work well in too cold weather. An air compressor, air hose, and cable are also needed to operate which causes additional cost. They even limit portability.
Cordless or battery powered
Cordless or battery-powered nailers seem effective for woodworking. You can move comfortably with it. Purchasing an additional air compressor is not needed.
You do not need to lug around the hose or electrical cable. Portability is another great feature of it. You can drive 400-1600 nails on a single charge.
A battery-powered or cordless nailer is a blessing for home use or places where power sources are not readily available.
But it will be heavier and bulkier due to the attached battery or gas cartridges. A battery-powered nailer weighs up to 6 pounds, whereas a pneumatic nailer weighs around 2.7 pounds.
It means you may experience fatigue while working for hours with a cordless nailer.
It is also more expensive than an electric or pneumatic nailer. A common problem with the gas-powered cordless nailer is that the gas does not work great below -20 degrees temperature.
|Portability||Not good||Not good||Good|
|Power||Medium to high||Extremely high||Low to medium|
|Cost||Little bit expensive||Affordable||Expensive|
|Convenience||Has to deal with wire||Air compressor, air hose, and wire may cause problem||Easy to use|
|Compatibility||For indoor woodshop projects||For indoor, outdoor, or professional woodworking||For DIY projects or places without power sources|
What gauge nailer is best for woodworking?
Gauge plays a vital role when picking the best nailer for woodworking. There are different gauges available from where you need to pick the most suitable one. Let’s break them down.
15 & 16 gauge finish nailer – 16 gauge finish nailer is the most versatile nailer since it offers enough holding power yet leaves holes that can be filled with filler easily.
I would strongly suggest getting a 16 gauge finish nailer for building furniture, structural joints, or smaller trim.
15 gauge can work as well. But that will be a little bit bigger and leave bigger holes. You need such a nailer for fencing or building furniture frames. You can even install a door or assemble furniture with the help of 15 or 16-gauge nailers.
18 gauge brad nailer– 18 gauge brad nailer is the best and is often used in woodworking. Most of them shoot 5/8 to 1-5/8 brad nails. Some even go up to 2-1/2″ nails.
18 gauge brad nailers are perfect for trim work, frames, and non-structural things like a cabinet face frame.
23 or 21 gauge pin nailer– You can also try a 23 gauge or 21 gauge pin nailer if a perfect finish without holes is your utmost demand.
Check this video for better understanding
Consider your project type
Before picking the right nailer, consider the project type. Ask yourself ‘What type of nail gun do I need for this specific woodworking project. Or you want something universal.
A nail gun for plywood floor and a nail gun for pallet wood will not be the same at all.
For universal work, a 16g size nailer will be fine for woodworking. They are neither small nor big. Yes, they leave small holes but that is the nature you need to deal with if you want to get a strong holding power.
Do not forget the size of the project
Project size and area are also important. When dealing with too large project, picking a battery-powered nailer might not be wise since it will run out of power.
At the same time, pick something with the highest nail capacity. It will prevent you from reloading frequently.
On the other hand, if you want to do some basic home woodworking, battery power or an electric nailer will work fine.
Pneumatic, electric, or gas-powered nailers can solve the problem. But they come with wire, hose, and compressor problems.
But for a larger project, pneumatic nailers work better since you will not run out of power yet feel any fatigue due to the lightweight design.
Try to understand the wood type and thickness
Nail gun can split wood if the size of the nails and nailer is compatible with the wood type and thickness. For example, you can use a nail gun on the hardwood but it has to be a finish nailer. A framing nailer may split hardwood.
Similarly, you can use an 18 gauge nailer for plywood and plywood floor. But when it comes to strong and heavy plywood, 16g finish nailer is the life savior.
Here is the type of nailer you need for wood type and thickness.
- For 2×4 – A pneumatic framing nailer
- For plywood floor – 16g finish nailer
- For pallet wood – You can use a brad coil nailer for pallet wood.
- For solid wood flooring – 16 gauge finish nailer
- Wood to concrete – 14-Gauge Concrete T-Nailer
- For stud work – 15-degree framing nail guns
- For mdf – 16 Gauge Finish Nailer
So before picking one, ask yourself three questions.
- What type of wood is this?
- How thick and strong is it?
- What type of nail and nailer you are using?
Top 10 Best Nail guns for Woodworking
Let’s dive into the top 10 best nailers for woodworking. All of them are picked for different woodworking purposes.
Best combo kit for all types of woodworking – Freeman Pneumatic Combo Kit
When I refer to woodworking, I mean everything woodworking is all about – from framing to finishing the small items. So the best nail gun for woodworking has to get all those jobs done.
A framing nailer might be good for framing like door building, but it cannot work in small tasks like baseboard.
Freeman Pneumatic Combo Kit comes with everything you need. This kit includes,
- A 21-Degree Framing Nailer for large projects such as framing, sheathing, truss assembly, roof decking, subfloors, fencing, furniture, and assembling pallets and shipping crates.
- A 15-Gauge Angle Finish Nailer for door and window casing, molding, trim, chair rails, cabinetry, and other fine finish applications.
- An 18-Gauge Brad Nailer for interior and exterior finish and trim such as furniture, cabinetry, picture frame assembly, and hobbies and crafts
- An 18-Gauge Narrow Crown Stapler for odd shape work such as cabinetry, cabinet backing, decorative trim, and hobbies and crafts.
So what will you get from this kit?
- Depth adjustment to work on different woods with different thicknesses and softness
- A filter/anti-dust cap to keep your working area clean.
- 360-Degree adjustable exhaust to channel away debris and hot air from you
- No-mar tip to protect soft and delicate wooden surface
- Oil-free design for less maintenance
- Quick-release tool-less nose to unjam fast
- Dual trigger mode (finish nailer) to switch between two modes smoothly
- Durable magnesium body for added longevity
- Loading with freeman’s nails is easier than you think
Only a part-timer or DIYer will look for a single nailer to get a single or small job done. But I will strongly suggest getting this combo nail gun for carpenters and others since it will save money and time at the same time.
It can be the best nail gun for building furniture.
Ask me why?
Well, from making frames to joining the smallest piece of wood, this combo kit will come in extremely handy that no single nailer can do.
You can also use this air nailer for cabinets, crown molding, window casings, baseboards, trim, subfloors, roof decking, fencing, pallet building, and cabinet making.
Made of one-piece, hardened steel, this combo abates the risk of internal failure.
Aluminum magnesium body, magazine, and cylinders ensure better stability and lightweight feeling when pistons fire and retract.
Equipped with an anti-dry fire mechanism, it reduces damage to prolong the overall longevity.
Aren’t there any bad sides?
Of course, there are. Let’s check them
- Some people complained that the framing nailer jams often
- Need to maintain the compressor, hose, and power (Since it is pneumatic)
But overall, I can say that Freeman Pneumatic Combo Kit is one of the best woodworking tools for the beginner.
Best Brad Nailer for Woodworking
Brad nailer is good for woodworking where you need a medium holding pressure and very small holes. Also, you need a specific brad nailer for specific woodworking tasks.
Best cordless brad nailer for woodworking- PORTER-CABLE 20V MAX* Cordless Brad Nailer
PORTER-CABLE 20V MAX* Cordless Brad Nailer is the best cordless brad nailer for woodworking. Compared to Dewalt, Senco, and Ryobi, Porter Cable offers more features and facilities at a very lower price.
You will love its size, weight, looks, and feels for its solid and well-built construction. Its ergonomic design will reduce fatigue on your hand.
With its 1300 nail capacity in a single charge, you can keep going for a long time and get your woodworking job done flawlessly. There is less chance of misfire as well.
It is also considered the most versatile size brad nailer for woodworking due to its tool-less design and ability to get different tasks done.
You can use this PORTER-CABLE Cordless Brad Nailer for cabinet making, trim, crown moldings, door trim, cabinet assembly, nosing trim, and others.
Even it allows nails with different lengths varying from 3/4″ to full 2″. You can drive those nails into 1x and 2x pine and some 1/2″ MDF while building various things.
So overall, if your concern is to get the best cordless brad nailer, you should look no further but the PORTER-CABLE Cordless Brad Nailer.
But if you want a higher volume user then you’re probably going to be better off with one of the Dewalt 20v nailers.
Best brad nailer for woodworking- WEN 61721 18-Gauge 3/8-Inch to 2-Inch Pneumatic Brad Nailer
Cordless brad nailer is good. But when you need a great brad nailer for woodworking, consider WEN 61721 18-Gauge 3/8-Inch to 2-Inch Pneumatic Brad Nailer.
It looks and feels like a high-midrange Taiwanese-made brand when you open it. The upper is not overly plastified which brings an elegant look.
WEN 61721 Pneumatic Brad Nailer is the best brad nailer for woodworking for its durable body, lightweight design, and ability to drive versatile nails. You can easily drive nails ranging from 3/8 to 2 inches in length.
This nailer runs at 60 to 115 PSI which is pretty common. You also need a 1/4-inch NPT air inlet fitting to get a proper nailer-compressor adjustment.
So overall, when you are dealing with lots of nailing, using a brad nailer for woodworking, especially this one, will be fun for sure.
Best Electric nail gun for woodworking – Arrow ET200BN Heavy Duty Electric Brad Nailer
Arrow ET200BN Heavy-Duty Electric Brad Nailer is the best nail gun for DIY. You can do trimming, molding, framing, fencing, wood crafting, and more in your house. With its electric design, you will never run out of power.
Since it is an electric-powered nailer, you should not pick it for outdoor uses. Designed with the adjustable depth-control knob, you can easily adjust the power to work with different DIY projects.
Equipped with a soft comfort grip, it makes the user more comfortable to reduce fatigue.
You can drive brads from ⅝” to 1″ including BN1810 5/8″, BN1812 3/4″, BN1816 1″, and BN1820 1-1/4″. A color-coded label is there to make your nail selection simpler.
Arrow ET200BN Heavy-Duty Electric Brad Nailer best electric brad nailer for woodworking because you will get,
- A carrying case for safe storage and carrying
- 6-foot power cord for higher reach and better flexibility
- Quick-release magazine for easy and simple reloading
- Full-sized trigger & contact safety for additional convenient
So overall if you need something cheap yet effective, this one can be a good item. Instead of spending $400 on a wireless brad, get this one.
And you will have the same problems that you have with every electric nailer
- Less power for thicker woods such as 1/2 inch pine
- Short nose
- Energy consumption
Best Finish Nailer for Woodworking
You should always pick a finish nailer when it comes to brad nailer or finish nailer for woodworking debate. Finish nailers are more powerful to hold your furniture or other woodworking items steadily. At the same time, it is easier to cover up the holes.
Best cordless nail gun for woodworking– DEWALT 20V MAX* Finish Nailer
DEWALT 20V MAX* Finish Nailer is the best cordless nail gun for woodworking for its higher power, better-holding capacity, and versatility to complete different projects.
From crown molding or casing to baseboards to cabinet making, you can do everything with it.
It also takes less maintenance and less operating costs since you are not dealing with compressors or gasses.
This Dewalt nail gun is better when compared to Electric Nail Gun Black and Decker. With this finish nail gun, you can deliver 1-1/4-inch to 2-1/2-inch finish nails smoothly.
Jam is a common issue and no one in the industry can say that their nailers won’t jam. But this 16 gauge finish nailer comes with an easy jam release to make your life easier.
Best pneumatic nail gun for woodworking- BOSTITCH 15 gauge Finish Nailer Kit
If you need the best nail gun for woodworking, consider the BOSTITCH 15 gauge Finish Nailer. This air nailer delivers 1-1/4-inch to 2-1/2-inch nails. It can drive Senco 34˚ clipped head 15ga brads as well.
It comes in a durable nice colorful box. The box also includes an additional no-mar tip, 1/4-inch Air Fitting, and the nailer.
When you open it, you will find a plastic-made finish nailer. The look is yellow, blue, and black which gives a rough yet classy look to it.
Using the tool is easier. With its tool-free depth adjustment, you can easily adjust the nail depth and do different woodworking projects such as trim, molding, cabinet making, and others.
Even if you are a carpenter, this one can work well and that is why this can also be considered the best nail gun for a carpenter.
Some important features are
- Air blower to clear away dust and debris from workplaces
- Tool-free jam release for quick jam release
- Dial-A- adjustment for accurate nail sinking
- Selectable trigger system to choose firing mode
- Oil-free operation to keep your working area clean
- Rear air exhaust to blow away the hot air
- Belt hook for easy storing and carrying
- Integrated pencil sharpener for easy jam cleaning
Along with so many features, you will experience some drawbacks including
- No dry fire lockout
- Too much plastic is used
But these two are not such big issues. I mean you are getting enough power, depth adjustment, easy use, and lots of other features which are more than enough for getting your job done. You must sacrifice some drawbacks to get all those benefits.
Best nail gun for building furniture- Metabo HPT Angled Finish Nailer
Metabo HPT 15 gauge Angled Finish Nailer is one of the best nailers for building furniture. Its angled magazine helps you place and drive nails in confined areas.
Besides, it drives 1-1/4-in Up to 2-1/2-in nails which are good enough to hold your furniture joints.
These nails can be the driver to 3/4″ oak to sheetrock and 2x4s smoothly. You need 90 PSI pressure to use this nailer.
Using this 15 gauge finish nailer is easier as well thanks to its 4.2 lbs lightweight design. It improves maneuverability and minimizes user fatigue.
There are lots of other features you can enjoy from this nailer including.
- Easy to switch between sequential or contact mode
- Tool-less depth adjustment for driving a nail into varying materials
- 360-Degree exhaust port for avoiding hot air
- Air duster to keep the working area clean
But you will get some drawbacks from this one as well
- No rafter hook to store or hang the nailer
- No dry fire indicator
- Makes some noises
Overall, this one is a versatile nailer that you can use for installing window and door casings, crown and base moldings, chair rails, cabinets, exterior trim, and staircases.
Best nail gun for framing – BOSTITCH Framing Nailer
For a framing job, nothing can be an alternative to a framing nailer. You need a framing nailer for even building furniture, especially when making the frames of the furniture.
The magnesium body makes the nailer durable yet lightweight – just 7.6 pounds. It allows you to work with the nailer for a long time without experiencing any fatigue.
Besides, this one offers 1050 inch-pounds power in each drive. You can drive 2 to 3 1/2 inch framing nails with this one to complete your tasks.
Along with these, you will get some important features such as
- Push button to adjust the depth to ensure desired depths quickly and conveniently
- 16-inch layout indicator to get the precise distance between studs
- Adjustable rafter hook for easy hanging or storing
- Setup for sequential or bump fire trigger
- Easy to load and removing jams
This nailer is versatile to complete different tasks. With a framing nailer, you can build
- Wood to masonry
- Engineered lumber
- Exterior decks
What about the drawbacks? Well, here are some for you that you need to be worried about.
- Require proper lubrication
- 28 degrees nails might not be available all the time
Best pin nailer for woodworking – Metabo HPT Pin Nailer
Metabo HPT Pin Nailer is an excellent tool for small or lightweight woodworking jobs such as small paneling, trims, molding and craft works.
It comes in a carrying bag. When you open the bag, you will get Safety Glasses, Male plugs, No-Mar Tip, and Hex Bar Wrench.
The durability might not be as good as Senco or a Porter+Cable, but this one is decent enough to handle rough use.
With this nailer, you can drive 5/8, 3/4, 1, 1-3/16, and 1-3/8 In. fasteners into thin stock, hardwood, or even 1/4” plywood. Even if you need different depth adjustments, this nailer features an easy depth adjustment.
This 23 gauge pin nailer is easy to handle thanks to its only 2.0 lbs weight. You can use it day long without experiencing fatigue.
But that is what you expect from a pin nailer, right?
Stapler for odd work – NuMax SL31 Pneumatic 3-in-1 Finish Nailer and Stapler
This NuMax SL31 Pneumatic 16 and 18-Gauge 2″ Finish Nailer and Stapler is the most versatile nail gun for woodworking.
You can do siding, flooring, framing, finish, and roofing with this single 3-1 tool.
Those tasks include chair rail molding, shoe, and crown molding, baseboards, cabinet backing, furniture trim, decorative trim, and window casing.
The 18 gauge brad nails are loaded on the left, 16 gauge finish nails on the right, and 18 gauge staples in the center. With your compressor at 80-100 psi, this nailer can work really great.
So overall, if you need the most versatile nailer for woodworking, NuMax SL31 Pneumatic 16 and 18-Gauge 2″ Finish Nailer and Stapler can be an all-in-one solution.
What is better 16 gauge or 18 gauge nailer?
16 gauge nailers are better for larger woodworking projects whereas 18 gauge nailers are good for smaller woodworking projects. 16 gauge nailers will provide more holding power for larger and tough materials but leave larger holes. But 18 gauge nailers will deliver a smoother finish yet provide less holding power.
What kind of nails should you use for woodworking projects?
You need to consider the strength or holding power, entry hole, diameter, nail material, and length when selecting nails for woodworking projects.
The diameter is expressed as a gauge. The higher the gauge number, the thinner it is in diameter. That means a 15 gauge nail will be higher in diameter than an 18 gauge nail.
Gauge of the nails
15 & 16 gauge finish nails- 15 & 16 gauge finish nailers offer strong holding power but they leave a bigger hole. But you can camouflage those holes with filler. For baseboard, paneling, and crown molding, these nails are ideal.
18 gauge brad nails and staples –These types of nails and stapes offer medium strength and leave small holes. Camouflaging them with filler is extremely easy and that is why these are mostly used in woodworking.
23 gauge pin- 23 gauge pins are the weakest nails but they leave little to no holes. For small or temporary projects, they can work well.
The construction of the nails is also important. Go for the stainless steel nails instead of galvanized since the latter one will rust over time and stain the fence boards.
You can check this video to find out how to pick the right nails.
Features to look for when looking for the best nailer for woodworking
You need to consider some features when searching for the best nailer for your woodworking projects.
Some wooden projects require heavy power whereas some require low power. Consider the power of the nailer. For heavy power, get a pneumatic or gas power nailer. For low power, battery-powered will do well enough.
But it is always better to go with high power since you can control the power. That means a high-power one will be suitable for both lightweight and heavy-duty work.
You will deal with woods having different depths even when making simple furniture or frames. Depth adjustment comes in handy here.
It allows you to adjust the nail driving depth. Check for tool-less depth adjustment since using tools to adjust depth is a hassle.
Reloading the nailer over and over seems disturbing. Having a higher nail capacity gives you the freedom to nail for a long time. You do not have to reload soon. One with more than 100 nail capacity seems ok.
Sometimes you work on a delicate wood surface. Without a nose pin, the nailer will damage the wood by leaving marks when driving nails.
The shock of nailing hits the wood and leaves the mark. But a nose pin will protect your surface from that damage.
Working with a nailer requires hand power. But you will experience fatigue when working for a long time if the weight is high. Make sure it is lightweight and perfectly balanced to work comfortably.
There are sequential and bump modes in each nailer. Make sure the mode switching is easier since you often need to interchange the modes for faster or safer work.
Time to wrap up
Woodworking becomes easier when you have the right tools. A nailer is a tool that will ease the pain of driving hundreds of nails and save you time.
Make sure you pick the right one that fits your projects perfectly. The power, nail capacity, ease of use, depth adjustment, and safety should be the main priority.
Comfortable grip, jam-free firing, and nose are also important. Consider all those while picking and you will end up getting the best nailer for your woodworking projects.