The Best Finish Nailers – Reviews and Recommendations
If there’s ever a workhorse in a woodworker’s arsenal, it’s the finish nailer. I can’t tell you how many times that trigger has been pulled in my wood shop.
Frankly, it’s one of the most important tools in my kit and a solid, consistent finish nailer is what I want to work with all the time. Now you need a good air compressor to go with it (at least for most air finish nailers), but the quality and ergonomics of the finish nailer itself will tell in your finished woodworking projects.
We searched high and low to find the best finish nailers on the market. Here’s what we found and the review of each below.
Looking for a well balanced nailer that will drive 16-gauge nails without jamming up? This straight nailer from NuMax does the trick on a budget. The depth setting is adjustable, as is the the exhaust port, so you aren’t blowing shots of compressed air back in your face.
The air fitting is a standard 1/4” NPT and comes with a dust cap. Use it with finishing nails from 1 to 2.5 inches, for trim, or tacking projects together cleanly. At 4.5 pounds, it’s fairly light, so the drag from the hose will weigh on you more than the tool itself.
If you are just finishing up some trim work, and not sure if you will ever need the nail-gun again after that, and you can’t find a buddy to loan you one for the weekend, this nailer from WEN could be your saving grace. It accepts 1, 1.5, and 2 inch 18 gauge brads and operates at 60-100 psi to give them enough punch to stick. The construction quality isn’t the best, but for this price it delivers more than you might expect, including a custom carrying case.
It’s depth adjustable, and has a directional exhaust on top, and hooks up with a ¼ inch NPT nipple. The magazine holds up to 100 brad nails, and a handy gauge on the side tells you exactly how many shots you have left. It’s a handy 5.2 pounds, and ready for air. You might be surprised how long it lasts. As an added bonus, this thing is dirt cheap on Amazon right now.
Here’s a trick. This brad nailer comes with an integrated air duster. How cool is that? Now that I’m hearing about it, I’m surprised you don’t find one on every nail gun. The nose on this nailer is easy to clear, so if you get a finishing nail stuck in there, no worries. You can also dial in the drive depth without tools. Hitachis cost more than most other brands, but their reliability is top notch, and they stuff a lot of power into a small package.
This nailer is no different, weighing only 4.2 pounds, and carrying a 34 degree magazine for fitting into tight spaces, like when the homeowner decides the new tub should be dangerously close to the toilet.
It has a soft tip, and will accept 15-gauge nails from 1-1/4” to 2.5”. The NPT fitting is installed from the factory and tips upward to keep the air hose out of your way. This is a solid piece of equipment for the serious contractor. Hitachi makes some fantastic nailers, period.
If you are trying to get yourself away from that heavy, noisy air compressor, you could try going electronic. This pneumatic nailer from DeWALT might fit your needs. The motor is designed to be maintenance-free for life, and the mechanism is simple enough that jams and compressor warm-up times will quickly become a thing of the past.
For an 18 gauge nailer, it’s pretty versatile, popping brads from 5/8ths of an inch to 2 inches in size. The kit comes with 500 nails, a carrying case, and an owners manual.
Do you know what you always get from DeWalt tools? Consistent quality.
If you would like to be truly free of cords and hoses, then you need to go on battery power. This nailer comes with all the features you would expect in any good cordless device. Integrated LED lights make it easier to see what you are doing. Two modes let you switch between sequential operation and bump-fire.
It comes with a battery and a 1-hour charger, so even if you burn it up in the morning, your nailer is ready to go again after lunch. It is quite heavy at 8.5 pounds, but for a battery powered device, that really isn’t so bad. The magazine holds 120 brads, and it will drive 16 gauge nails from 1-1/4 to 2-1/2 inches in length.
The best part is you don’t need an air compressor or a wall outlet. Well, okay, you need a wall outlet to charge the battery, but with the long run-life, that should be a nighttime activity.
This cordless finish nailer is a game-changer. To us, it’s definitely worth the price which is not too bad at all right now.
So Which Finish Nailer Should You Buy?
In the world of finish nailers, you usually get what you pay for as the old saying goes. Even some of the cheapest finish nailers will drive brad nails just fine, the question you need to answer is – for how long?
We advise woodworkers, contractors or even weekend warriors shopping for a finish nailer to buy within their budget but also know that it’s worth spending a little bit more for a truly high-quality nailer that is going to last for years instead of days.