How to Use a Brad Nailer, the right way

by Joost Nusselder | Updated on:  March 18, 2022
I love creating free content full of tips for my readers, you. I don't accept paid sponsorships, my opinion is my own, but if you find my recommendations helpful and you end up buying something you like through one of my links, I could earn a commission at no extra cost to you. Learn more

A brad nailer is a very useful and essential tool for binding thin pieces of wood. It is used for both professional and casual household works. Using a brad nailer can be straightforward.

Other than just the very basics, knowing how to use a brad nailer properly consists of learning about the certain components of it and what they do.  These are things you should consider if you want to be creative and get the most out of your brad nailer.


So without any further delay, let’s walk you through the procedure of properly using a brad nailer.

How Does a Brad Nailer Work?

A brad nailer works very similarly to a gun. The basic parts of a brad nailer are,

  • Magazine
  • Trigger
  • Barrel
  • Safety switch
  • Battery or air hose (depending on the type)

Pulling the trigger forces a large amount of force on the brads (pins), and they come out of the barrel with exceptional speed, piercing through wood and other materials.

Brad Nailer Types

There are mainly two types of brad nailers – pneumatic and battery operated (electrical).

1. Pneumatic Brad Nailer

Pneumatic brad nailer works by using the pressure of compressed air. It requires a separate air compressor or compressed air cylinder to work. So these certainly lack the versatility of an electrical brad nailer.

2. Electric Brad Nailer

This section of nailers doesn’t require any air and operates on a battery, but they are just as powerful as the pneumatic ones. They are comparatively easy to carry around and are suggested for casual and amateur works.

3. Operating a Brad Nailer

Amongst the two different types of brad nailers, the operating methods are very similar. Here, we’ll show you the basic operation of a brad nailer.

  1. Release the magazine using the quick release button at the bottom. Once out, check to make sure you have enough pins. Then slide it back in.
  2. Connect your pneumatic brad nailer to an air compressor using a hose and for electric brad nailers, make sure the battery is charged.
  3. Press the nosepiece of the barrel against the surface you want to pin at a 90-degree angle. Make sure the nosepiece goes back all the way, or the pins won’t come out.
  4. Once you’re ready, keep your hands steady, grip the brad nailer tightly, and press down the trigger.

To make sure you don’t mess up at actual work, practice using it a couple of times on a scrap piece of wood. It’s really easy once you get the hang of it.

How to Load A Brad Nailer?

If your magazine has run out of nails, grab a new set of supported brads and do the following,

Loading a brad nailer
  1. Pull out the magazine
  2. Insert the new set following the guiding rails. The brads should be flat with the magazine.
  3. Push in the magazine, and if everything is done correctly, you should hear a click at the end.

You’re now ready to fire off! Also, as a pro tip, you can see if there are sufficient nails in the magazine by looking through the magazine window. There should be a small rectangular hole in the magazine.

Brad Nailer Additional Features

If you want to get the most out of your brad nailer, certain features allow you to do so. But these depend on the brand you’re using and also how old it is.

Dual-Fire Modes

There should be a small button around the trigger that allows you to change how you fire the pins. Pressing the button will take it into bump fire mode. This will make the nailer fire whenever the nosepiece is pressed without needing to pull the trigger.

This is useful when your work doesn’t require precision pointing and for fast applications.

Depth Setting

This is a slider, or a knob also found around the trigger that allows you to set how deep the nail is going to go. If you want your nails to go deeper than surface level, set the slider/knob higher. And if you want shallower nails, set the slider/knob lower.

You can use this if your brads are shorter than the material or if you want to hide the nails within the material.

Flip-Top Nose

This is an excellent feature as this allows you to open the top of the barrel to easily remove any jammed pins.

If your nailer has this, you should find a quick-release liver at the top of the barrel. By flipping it, the entire top barrel flips open and gives you easy access to remove the jammed pins.

Thumb-Activated Blowgun

When pressed, the gun releases some of the compressed air through the barrel to clear up your workspace or surface so that you can see the target.

This is especially useful if there are a lot of wood shavings on the surface you’re trying to pin.

Maintenance and Safety Tips

Maintenance is an important conversation for pneumatic brad nailers as nails can get jammed, and air passage can get blocked if not taken care of. Here are some common tips for maintaining your brad nailer.

  • Use brad nailer oil regularly. Put a couple of drops of oil down the air chamber of the machine and it should automatically spread out.
  • Make sure to use the correct size of pins. Check to see the maximum supported length. Also, consider the thickness of the material as you don’t want the pins to be shorter than the material.
  • Wear safety glasses and gloves.
  • Don’t point a brad nailer at anyone because it’s practically a gun that shoots nails and can be lethal.
  • Nail your woods with the gun perpendicular to the surface.
  • Use it regularly.


Brad nailers are very straightforward machines and are very easy to get the hang of. Just always be cautious while using one and maintain it regularly.

So if you were worried that you didn’t know how to use a brad nailer, well, you are probably surprised at how simple it is. We wish you the best of luck with your next project.

Also read: best electric brad nailers reviewed

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.