Brad Nailer vs Pin Nailer – Which One Should I Get?

by Joost Nusselder | Updated on:  March 17, 2022
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Nails and pins are the barebone necessities of carpentering and any wood-related projects. They eliminate or reduce the need to use glue to stick pieces of wood together. However, there are different kinds of pins and nailers. The ones we’ll be talking about today are brad nailers and pin nailers. Both of these serve different purposes, yet they are very similar.
So, brad nailer vs pin nailer, which one should you get? This article will guide you through everything you need to know to make a worthwhile purchase.

Brad Nailer

A brad nailer is the most popular wood nailer used by both professionals and casuals. Its main purpose is to pin nails deep within wood pieces to stick them together and reduce the need for glue. Generally, a brad nailer is ideal for a broad range of tasks. They use 18-gauge nails that are around 3/8 to 2 inches tall. So the nails are thin yet very long. This is useful to permanently attach multiple pieces of wood, as long as their thickness is within the length of the pin. Also, thanks to nails being thin, they barely leave any marks on the wood and are very unnoticeable. Brad nailers work very fast, so they are preferred by most professionals as their go-to method for stacking wood. The nails also have sufficient holding power so they can stick thick and heavy pieces of wood.

When to Use Brad Nailers?

Typically, brad nailers are used for most projects involving wood and casual household fixes. This includes attaching two pieces of wood, such as fixing a wooden chair or cabinetry. And since brad nailers don’t leave much of a spot, you don’t need to cover them up. They are also recommended for most professional work as they come in very handy – thanks to their speed. When you need to insert a ton of pins one by one, a brad nailer will make the job a whole lot easier and faster.

Pin Nailer

This type of nailer uses very thin and small pins (usually around 23-gauges). This is not suitable for every kind of work as the pins are weak. But usually, they are great for small projects and attaching small wood pieces.
Pin nailer used on wood plank
Pin nailers have a narrow list of use cases when compared to brad nailers. They use very thin nails that are around 23-gauges, and they’re also pretty short depending on your pin nailer. This difference in nail size limits it from doing things the brad nailer can do while also creating unique opportunities and use cases. The most popular usage of pin nailers is with small projects and requires thin woods. Thin wood pieces require smaller nails to attach. The 23-gauge nails are headless, meaning they virtually leave no signs of the nail on the surface. This is especially useful for the project’s aesthetics. Another famous use of pin nailers is to temporarily attach pieces of wood to let the glue dry, effectively working as a support for the glue. Due to the size of the nails, it does not have enough holding power to stick pieces of wood permanently.

When to Use a Pin Nailer?

Pin nailers should be used for delicate and small applications. This includes small projects, attaching small wooden picture frames, and other miniature fixes. The pin nailer is also quite small, so you can tuck it into small places. It can also be used for temporary wooden works. Providing support for the wood while the glue dries up is the most common use in this regard. It will also help strengthen the bonding of the wood pieces.

Differences Between Brad Nailers and Pin Nailers

So now that we’ve laid down the basic ground knowledge for both the machines, it’s time to know the differences between them to help you get a better understanding.
Brad Nailer Pin Nailer
Has a wide variety of use case scenarios Field of usage is limited and small
Uses 18-gauge nails that are very long Supports 23-gauge nails that are short
Can permanently attach and stick pieces of wood Only used to temporarily stick wood pieces
Not suitable for thin and small projects and fixes Very suitable for little projects and attaching thin wood
Used for the mainframe of work Mostly used for very thin finishing works and support
Leaves a visible nail head on the wood surface Gets deep into the wood, leaving no visible trace
As you can speculate, both of them have their perks and demerits. But brad nailers are more whelming than pin nailers, offering more usage.

Which One Should You Get?

After learning about all the facts and differences between the brad nailer and the pin nailer, the decision comes down to you and your needs. If you’re new and you’re looking at casual household uses, then buy a brad nailer. It offers more versatility and will get most of the work done. However, if you’re a professional or you have a certain niche that requires small nails, such as tiny projects and thin woodworks, then you might want to consider the pin nailer. Both of these are useful in different scenarios, but the only major thing that differs them is the holding power of the brad nailer, as it can permanently attach woods.


So, after all the conversation, which one should you get? If you are very confused about both of these, then going for a brad nailer is usually a safe pick. However, it is always better to get informed and think about your personal use cases. Hopefully, this article has helped you in your research, and now you can confidently make a purchase decision. Good luck!

I'm Joost Nusselder, the founder of Tools Doctor, content marketer, and dad. I love trying out new equipment, and together with my team I've been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with tools & crafting tips.