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Pin Nailers Explained – Pin Nailer vs Brad Nailer, What Are They, How Do They Work, What Are They Used For & Buying Guide

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If you want a smooth-looking finished product, then a pin nailer is the right tool for you. Brad nailers often leave visible holes which are a problem for painting and smoothing. The Pin Nailer has been designed to solve this problem by creating an invisible hole that will not be seen after the project is complete. This leaves your work looking great and ready for paint or stain!

This article will provide all the relevant information on pin nailers, comparing them with brad nailers and providing a buying guide along with links to some of the best pin nailer available on Amazon.

Table of Contents

What is a Pin Nailer?

A pin nailer is a small, air-driven gun that shoots very thin nails. It’s often used to install molding and trim. It typically fires a 23 gauge nail. A pin nailer is probably the smallest nailer you’re going to find in today’s market. It’s a headless nail why they call it a pin. The nails are like pins. It uses headless pin nails to shoot.

A pin nailer is a high-quality tool that can be used for some of the most sophisticated projects possible. They are ideal for intricate woodwork and other detailed tasks. The 23-gauge is the most appropriate choice if you want to design with delicate pieces. For example, little furniture trim cannot handle lower gauge pin nailers.

Even brads are with higher diameters compared to them. The popular one is a 1-inch 23-gauge nailer. You should already know that a higher gauge number means a lower diameter. Sometimes 2-inch pins are also used if the trims are heavyweight. You will not have a versatile option for working with lightweight trims.

Flooring nail gun example

What is a Pin Nailer Used For?

A pin nailer is a tool that comes in handy for many woodworking jobs and projects. They’re capable of driving thin metal pins into the wood, which can hold pieces of lumber together while you’re nailing them to another surface or preparing them for the finishing touches.

A pin nailer is often used to make detailed carvings on wood, but if it’s a hard surface like stone, you may need something more impactful, like a hammer drill. A pin nailer is a tool that can be used to finish craft projects, mount paintings on frames, and much more. It’s great if you’re just starting out with woodworking or need an inexpensive way to get the job done.

Types of Pin Nailer

Mainly there are two types of pin nailers readily available in the market. They are:

  • Pneumatic pin nailer
  • Electric pin nailer

Let us take a look at these in more detail!

Pneumatic Pin Nailers

A pneumatic pin nailer is a hand tool that uses compressed air to nail through materials such as wood, laminate, drywall, and more. They have an internal firing mechanism that enables them to fire constantly for a short time.

A pneumatic nailer is a work tool used to fasten materials using nails. It comprises an air-powered pistol that can shoot long thin pins or staples into wood or metal surfaces. There are many different types and sizes available in today’s market.

Pneumatic pin nailers are used in several applications to make sure that the wood is nailed properly. This helps build a stronger structure for your building. The pneumatic nailer is used to strike nails into different surfaces. The best thing about this tool is that it helps you drive the nails in a precise manner.

Electric Pin Nailers

Electric pin nailers are lightweight tools powered by electric sources that deliver a sufficient amount of power. This makes them ideal for doing some precise work such as building furniture or trimming trees and shrubs around the house. These are mostly battery-powered but are costly to users. Many professionals refer to these as the standard tool but modern-day users prefer pneumatic options.

The very first electric pin nailer was invented in the early 20th century but wasn’t widely used for a long time due to there not being many places to use them. Nowadays, with advancements in technology and additional construction jobs becoming more available than ever before, there are lots of places for its use.

If you’re looking for a type of nailer that is convenient, lightweight, and portable, then an electric pin nailer might be the one for you. This type of nail gun has no cords or gas cartridges so it can be used in confined areas with limited access.

An electric pin nailer is a great tool for building cabinets. While it takes some practice to use, the end result can save you time and energy.

Pin Nailer vs Brad Nailer

When it comes to brad nailer vs pin nailer, these two nail guns actually have a lot in common. ​When considering a pin nailer vs brad nailer for your home DIY projects, start by understanding what characteristics they share.

Brad and pin nailers have a lot in common, being why they are so easily confused. Here are some of their similarities:

  • Both are designed to drive nails into wood surfaces without leaving a large hole
  • Both nail guns allow you to adjoin two pieces of wood together easily without worrying about having to add any wood putty to cover the nail heads
  • You can use a both a pin nailer and a brad nailer to drive nails into a wood piece as a temporary holder
  • One of the advantages of both a pin nailer and a brad nailer is their ability to drive into thin wood pieces without splintering the wood
  • While both nail guns have a decent amount of driving force, they are both unable to go through thicker and tougher wood like plywood or MDF. Not only are the nails that these nail guns use smaller in diameter, but they also don’t have the driving force to penetrate these types of wooden surfaces.

A brad nailer is generally far more diverse and can be used on a lot more projects, when compared with a pin nailer. With all that these two nailers have in common, you may be led to think they are more similar than they are different. That isn’t the case, however. While many are subtle, there are actually quite a few things that separate a pin nailer and a brad nailer.

Brad nailers use larger 18 gauge nails while pin nailers use smaller 23 gauge nails. While brad nailers provide more holding power, they leave a visible nail hole, which pin nailers do not. Brad nailers can not be used on very thin wood but can be used on thicker wood pieces while providing a permanently adhered trim.

On the contrary, pin nailers can be used on very thin wood but cannot be used on thick wood pieces, while providing only a temporary hold.

​As you determine which would be best for you, start with the wood application you are most interested in working with. Pin nailers are ideally suited to thinner wood pieces, as it has less of a driving force and use smaller gauge nails that will not damage delicate wood surfaces.

Meanwhile, a brad nailer can be used on thin as well as thick trim work as it uses larger gauge nails and is certainly powerful enough to adjoin surfaces together permanently.

If you’re interested in learning about a Brad Nailer vs Framing Nailer, visit our guide here. Likewise, we have an article providing an example on Using a Portable Air Tank For Nail Gun!

Pin Nailer Buying Guide

Pin nailers are generally compact in size which helps to make them easy to use, store and carry around. If a pin nailer is your choice, then you should carefully consider the below factors to make sure you’re making the right selection:

  • Pin size
  • Gauge rating
  • Size and weight
  • Depth adjustment
  • Magazine size
  • Additional features

Pin Nailer Pin Size

One of the easiest ways to differentiate between each type of pin nailer is to look at their supported pin size. Typically you will come across pin size support ranges like ½” to 1″ or ⅜” to 1 ⅜”. Higher ranges result in a more flexible pin nailer.

Pin Nailer Gauge Rating

You should also check the gauge rating of a given pin nailer as it tells you the thickness of the supported pin size, usually 23 gauge.

Pin Nailer Size and Weight

As a pin nailer often gets used for smaller applications like art and craft, it is more or less a handheld power tool. Therefore, the size and weight of the pin nailer are both very important since the most practical option is small size and less weight.

Pin Nailer Depth Adjustment

If you have to work on different materials, then investing in a model with a depth adjustment feature is essential. It will enable the user to set the depth at which the nail is inserted into the material for joining or completing the task.

Pin Nailer Magazine Size

The magazine is responsible for holding the pin nails in the nailer. It is always better to invest in a model that can hold the most number of pin nails. This will help in working continuously for a longer duration without the need of reloading it so often.

An ideal pin nailer comes with the capacity of at least 100 micro pins. Also look out for a magazine that has an indicator that notifies when it is empty. The next thing to consider while analyzing magazines is the ease of loading. Make sure to choose the model that is easy to use and load. Quick loading will help lead to less frustration and less time being wasted.

And one more thing to consider is that – pin nailers usually jam and it is even more common with pneumatic nailers. High-quality pin nailers usually jam less compared to others. However, you have to check whether the pin nailer is easy to unjam quickly.

Pin Nailer Additional Features

Some of the pin nailers come with additional accessories which help to maintain them properly. For example, wrenches for maintenance. Some of these accessories are mentioned below for maintenance.

  • Carrying case – most of the pin nailers will generally come with this option as they make it easy to carry and store. Hardshell cases are available to keep all the tools and nailer together and protect them from damage, typically for a greater cost.
  • Oil-free motor – with this feature you don’t have to deal with messy oil clean-ups. It eliminates any need for regular maintenance.
  • Dual Trigger – a safety feature that prevents accidental firing. In order to fire, you have to depress one trigger and a second to fire.
  • Narrow Nose – this allows you to reach tight areas with ease. If you work on several small projects or if your work involves nailing in tight spaces then this is perfect option.
  • No mar tip – while using a pin nailer, glue smeared or worn-out tips can become a real problem. So, it is better to have a no-mar tip so that it guides you to locate the best position to drive the pins each time.

Pin Nailers Available on Amazon

I have picked out some of the best pin nailer that are readily available for purchase on Amazon. First up is this Metabo pin nailer. This 23 gauge pin nailer kit is capable of pinning nails from 5/8″ to 1 3/8″.

Next we have the DeWalt pin nailer which is capable of driving 5/8″ to 2″ nails with the power and adaptability to deliver professional results.

Another great option is this Bostitch pin nailer. This 23 GA Pin Nailer sets 2-inch nails recessed into trim and finish materials, including oak and other dense wood. Innovative features like tool-free jam release and depth adjustment help you keep working without stopping to look for a hex key.

Other great options include a Milwauke pin nailer, Ryobi pin nailer, and Senco pin nailer. The Milwauke m12 pin nailer and Milwauke 23 gauge pin nailer appear to be some of the most sought after of all pin nailers available.

Other nail gun related pages you may be interested in reading:

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

What is pin nailer used for?

A pin nailer is a very useful tool for many woodworking projects. Pin nailers are capable of driving thin metal pins into wood, which can hold pieces of lumber together while you’re nailing them to another surface or preparing them for the finishing touches.

What is the difference between a pin nailer and a finish nailer?

The biggest difference between a pin nailer and finish nailer is the size of the nail they’re capable of firing. Pin nailers are generally 23 gauge while finish nailers are typically around 15 or 16 gauge. Therefore, pin nailers fire a lot smaller diameter nails when compared with a finish nailer.

Is a pin nailer good for trim?

Yes, pin nailers are great choices for trim projects. If you need fine finish work on anything like furniture trim, veneers, or holding two pieces of wood together while glue dries, then a pin nailer is the best choice!

Can you use a pin nailer for baseboards?

Generally pin nailers fire nails that are too small to be used for baseboards. Their 23 gauge nails are too short and thin to successfully do the job, and so, it is recommended to use a brad nailer or finish nailer.

If you have any questions regarding pin nailers, please leave a comment below, with a photo if applicable, so that someone can help you!

By Aidan Weeks

A passionate Mechanical Engineer with endless enthusiasm for fluid power - building off the back of over 18 years of high quality contribution and discussion stimulated by Bill Wade here at About Air Compressors. With both practical and theoretical experience in pneumatics and hydraulics, I'm putting my knowledge to work - and working my grey-matter through my research, assistance and publishing work here at About Air Compressors. Feel free to reach out any time! P.S. A HUGE shout out to Doug who really offers such great value to all visitors to About Air Compressors - once again, feeling like I'm standing on the shoulders of GIANTS by getting to work alongside such a great community

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