When it comes to DIY projects, household maintenance and building repairs, the choice of power tools and nails are crucial to the overall success and quality of your project. If you are looking to create or repair wood trim, moldings and cabinetry or work on a small or detailed DIY project, you should look into brad nails. Now you may be scratching you head and asking “what are brad nails?”, but don’t worry, we are here to help!
We have taken the stress out and gathered the information for you, so you can decide if brad nails will suit your project. This article explores what brad nails are, their uses and sizes, as well as the pros and cons of their application.What Is An Outline Template?
What Are Brad Nails?
Often coined “Brads”, brad nails are the second-to-the-smallest nail you can buy when looking to use a nail gun in carpentry. They belong to the family of ‘finishing nails’ because of their use in light carpentry or as finishing touches to delicate wood work. The ‘finishing nail’ family consists of 15-16-gauge finish nails, 18-gauge brad nails, and 23-gauge pin nails. The higher the gauge, the smaller the nail.
Distinguishing the difference can be a bit confusing at first, since there is no significant variation in the sizes of finishing nails. You may also find yourself asking, what is the point of a brad nail?
Brad nails were introduced to bridge a significant gap between 15-gauge finish nails and 23-gauge pin nails. Finish nails provided significant holding power to any delicate woodwork, but because of their slightly thicker and traditional flat head nail design, they tend to leave a noticeable hole or mark in comparison to brad or pin nails.
Pin nails, on the other hand, are barely noticeable after application, but they often have to be used alongside adhesives because of their low hold strength. This is where the brad nail comes in with its 18-gauge thickness, 1.22mm diameter and pin-like design that offers a great balance between a strong hold and a delicate finish. They also come in a variety of different lengths, ranging anywhere from 3/8” to 2”. But now you might be thinking, what are brad nails used for?What Are Brad Nails?
What Are Brad Nails Used For?
So what are brad nails used for? As briefly mentioned above, brad nails are perfect for any light or delicate wood work and are generally used by professionals for mounting lightweight trim. This is because of their thin gauge size and pin-shaped design that also prevents the possibility of having to use any wood putty to cover the nail hole. This is especially beneficial for any detailed carpentry projects, as wood putty tends to leave a darker colour once a finish is applied.
All of this makes brad nails ideal for a range of home improvement or renovation projects. Some of the most popular applications for brad nails include attaching cove, stop, rail, and baseboard shoe molding, applying detailed trim on cabinets, constructing small wood furniture pieces, as well as easy home projects such as picture frames.
A Safe Choice
An additional benefit to using brad nails in any delicate or detailed woodwork projects is that they reduce the risk of damaging thin pieces of trim. When nailing thin trim to cabinets or baseboards, there is always a risk of the wood getting damaged or splitting if you’re using finish nails as opposed to brad nails.
Despite these benefits, people still often opt for the finishing nail’s holding power when attaching any wood trim. However, thanks to the natural structure of the wood, brad nails are perfectly capable of delicately securing trim to any wooden surface without the need for a flathead nail design.
Brad nails sizes typically depend on the capacity of your brad nail gun. While not as common as the 18-gauge, 21-gauge brad nails are also available if you’re looking for an extra-delicate finish. However, 18-gauge brad nails are more common because of the stronger bond they provide when compared to the thin, pin-sized 21-gauge brad nails.
Once you have decided the gauge of your brad nail, you then need to decide the length of your fastener, or nail. Most brad nail guns are compatible with a range of brad nail lengths, ranging from 3/8” to 2”. A good thing to keep in mind is that you want the length of the nail to be about three times the thickness of the material you’re nailing. That way you ensure the nail will effectively secure the material to the object you are attaching it to.
The Brad Nailer
If you’re a first-time user of brad nails and are yet to own a nail gun of your own, then we’d recommend starting with an electric brad nailer. Unlike the more expensive and cumbersome pneumatic and air-compressor models, an electric model provides relatively inexpensive options of corded or battery-operated cordless designs. Plus, as a beginner, it’s the easiest model to learn and helps to make sure you get the most out of your first brad nail use.
The nailer operated by electric motors that load an air compression chamber to drive the nail into the desired material once discharged. While it may lack the power of pneumatic models, we recommend starting with an electric model because it’s more than capable of driving thin brad nails up to 2” long into thin wood trim with delicate consistency.
In addition, the battery-operated models provide excellent portability, making it perfect for various home and DIY projects, such installing trim on interior doors, windows, baseboards; all of which brad nails are perfectly suited for.
As mentioned earlier, there are many benefits to using brad nails for your woodwork, but we have outlined the key things for you.
A bradnailer and brad nails are among the most commonly used tools for any project. Their versatility ranges from basic arts and crafts, to home improvement, DIY projects, woodwork and cabinet building, etc.
The small head and diameter of these pin-like nails are ideal for finishing touches and delicate tasks. A standard 18-gauge brad nail is easier to conceal than other 15 or 16-gauge nails in wood and creates a clean finish for your craft activities, DIY projects, or any of the following:
- Trim work
- Door frames
- Installing baseboards
- Chair rail
- Crown molding
- Door and window casings
Brad nailers, which are the nail guns that drive the brad nails into the wood, boast a decent amount of power to ensure the nail is fixed in place. The strength of the nail, combined with the mobility and power of the brad nailer, ensures the holding power of the nail.
The 18-gauge nail may not have the same durability and strength as a large nail, but they are used in solid structures like door frames and baseboards, indicating that brad nails still have significant holding power.
There are a multitude of benefits for using brad nails, but there are a few minor things you should also know, before undertaking your project.
Brad nails are created from a fine, 18-gauge wire, which means they have less holding strength than other nails, such as finishing nails. Their thin design is better suited for crafts, small DIY projects, decorative woodwork, molding, panel installations, and trim.
Despite being small in design, brad nails may still leave a visible hole, depending on your project and the application of the nails. They will not be as large as other nails, but in some circumstances, you may need to fill the holes prior to painting or staining the wood so the finished appearance or your project is smooth and clean.
3. Potential Splittin
While brad nails are designed for detailed woodwork, if you are using precarious woods or delicate and soft materials such as thin veneers or small furniture trim, the thin wood can still split.
Surface splitting may occur if the material or wood is too small for the fastener. We recommend you take a sample of your wood or trim to your local hardware store and speak with them about the specific details of your project, to gauge if brad nails are the best option for you.
The specifically designed, thin-gauge of the brad nail binds lightweight wood with minimal risk of damage to the pieces of trim. Its versatile use for DIY projects, crafts, hobbies, and household/business maintenance and repairs, and the high quality of its results, make brad nails an ideal asset for your tool box. Most carpenters will alternative between brad nails and finishing nails to complete and embellish their woodwork.
The speed, power and accuracy of brad nails, will instill you with the confidence to approach your task with ease. We hope this has helped distinguish what are brad nails, their function, and the benefits of their application.
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