Best finish nailer reviews 2018
DEWALT DC618K XRP Cordless Angled Finish Nailer KitCordless performance
Heavy-duty, battery-operated finish nailer effectively drives nails into soft and hard joints alike.
DEWALT DC618K Review
The DEWALT DC618K XRP is one of the most powerful finish nailers on the market designed to handle both DIY applications and heavy-duty job site demands. Powered by an 18V XRP battery, the nailer is ideal for either precision placement or production speed and boasts sequential and bump operating modes.
A magazine capacity of 120 nails and compatibility with almost all 20° angled nails add up to the convenience and versatility, while the user experience is enhanced by the high maneuverability and integrated LED spotlight. Safety is ensured by the convenient Contact Trip Lock-Off which disables the trigger when not in use. Fast and precise, easy to use and easy to troubleshoot, the DEWALT DC618K XRP is undoubtedly one of the best finish nailers on the market.
Hitachi NT65MA4 15-Gauge Angled Finish NailerCommercial-grade pneumatic nailer
Adjustable depth of drive allows fast fastening and improved control for a professional finish.
Hitachi NT65MA4 Review
The Hitachi NT65MA4 is perhaps the best finish nailer if you’re looking for the best value for money. This commercial-grade tool can handle nails from 1.25 to 2.5 inches long, and its 34° angled magazine allows to seamlessly reach awkward corners and tight spaces.
Suitable for a wide range of projects, the tool drives nails through soft and hard materials alike, handling with ease the installation of crowns and base moldings, door and window casing, exterior trims, and more. Weighing just over 4lbs, this tool is highly maneuverable and comfortable to use. Furthermore, a 360° adjustable exhaust allows easy management of debris while the integrated air duster ensures a fast cleaning of the work surface before nailing.
Like our best-in-class, the Hitachi NT65MA4 comes with a selective actuation switch; it’s powerful and reliable. Just what it takes to handle all job site or DIY demands.
BOSTITCH N62FNK-2 15-Gauge Angled Finish NailerErgonomic but expensive
A lightweight magnesium housing that has a low impact on the overall heft of the tool, ensuring strength and durability.
BOSTITCH N62FNK-2 Review
Similar in many ways with our best-value pick, the BOSTITCH N62FNK-2 delivers job site performance but has a less appealing price point. Like the Hitachi NT65MA4, this finish nailer can handle nails of various lengths, while the removable angled magazine ensures a precise application in all areas, including any tighter spots and corners.
Lightweight and easy to handle, this tool boasts a durable magnesium housing; the pneumatic drive adjusts from 70 to 120PSI for seamless operation.
Powerful and reliable, ergonomic and easy to handle, but expensive the BOSTITCH N62FNK-2 makes an excellent second best value pick.
Valu-Air T64C 16-Gauge Finish NailerDIY power tool
Reliable and convenient pneumatic finish nailer ideal for home use and DIY woodwork applications.
Valu-Air T64C Review
Just as its name suggests, the Valu-Air T64C is a valuable tool that delivers home use performance without breaking the bank. Like our best-value pick, this tool is pneumatic and developed to drive all 16-gauge straight finish nails with a length between 7/8-inch to 2-1/2 inches. This makes it perfect for nailing furniture and cabinets, molding and decorative trims, skirting, and more.
Its heat-treated aluminum housing ensures resistance to high-volume demands while the max operating pressure is only slightly lower than our best value’s.
Similar to the Hitachi model, the Valu-Air T64C comes with a 360° adjustable exhaust and a tool-free nose latch for easy troubleshooting. Inexpensive yet reliable, this finish nailer is ideal for the hobbyist shopping on a budget.
2. Brad vs. finish nailer
Professional carpenters know precisely how to choose between a brad nailer and a finish nailer, but the novice or amateur could easily get confused by the subtle difference between the two tools. The truth is a brad nailer and a finish nailer look very much alike, and up to an extent, they share the same function.
The main difference is in the type of nails the tool works with.
- Brad nailers: Use brads – namely small 18-gauge nails designed to sink into the wood for a flawless exterior finish even if you’re not planning to paint or cover the surface.
- Finish nailers: Use 15 or 16-gauge nails that are also developed to sink into the wood. However, due to their larger size, a flawless finish can only be achieved by painting or otherwise covering the surface.
3. When to use a finish nailer?
A finish nailer is a perfect tool to have in your arsenal for most heavy-duty carpentry jobs, including the mounting of skirting and outdoor trims, cabinets, furniture, chair rails, bedding, stair rails, and other woodwork applications.
Due to the strength of the nails involved, this choice also falls on this tool for finish works on the hardwood and other hard materials like MDF, HDF, and plywood.
When to use a brad nailer vs. a finish nailer:
A brad nailer is a more appropriate choice instead if you’re working with particularly delicate materials such as soft wood trims, to avoid damaging the material.
4. Types of finish nailers
Based on their power source and operating mode, the finish nailers can be classified as electric, pneumatic, and gas nailers.
Electric finish nailers
Like most electric tools, these nailers are either corded or cordless. The differences are clear and straightforward.
- Corded finish nailers: Plug into a wall socket, have unlimited operation time, but their mobility is subject to the length of the cord.
- Cordless finish nailers: Are powered by a rechargeable battery which can be either Li-Ion or NiCad. Their mobility is limitless, but the runtime is subject to the capabilities of the battery.
How to choose a cordless finish nailer?
With the advent of the cordless technology, more and more hobbyists decide to enjoy the benefits of portability and the advantages of owning a battery-operated tool. But there are a few battery-related features that differentiate the best cordless finish nailer from an average one.
- Battery type: Essentially, there are two types of batteries to choose from, Li-Ion and NiCad. The main difference is the lack of memory effect on the Li-Ion variant, which allows you to recharge them at any moment during their cycle without negatively affecting the runtime and lifespan.
- Charging time: The charging time varies widely from battery to battery, even between models belonging to the same battery type. For instance, some Li-Ion batteries may require over 6 hours to recharge, while the latest generation models will be ready to use in only one hour.
- Interchangeable battery: The best cordless finish nailer should come with an interchangeable battery that can be replaced with a charged one when drained.
Pneumatic finish nailers
Like all pneumatic tools, the pneumatic finish nailer is powered by compressed air, typically produced by a portable air compressor. Comparable in terms of power with the cordless machines, the pneumatic nailers come with a great advantage, they are easier to operate with just one hand.
This gives you the possibility to hold the workpiece with the other hand, guaranteeing a higher precision.
However, to ensure the accuracy and continuity of operation, you will have to check the nailer’s PSI and CFM requirements and make sure your air compressor produces sufficient pressure and power for your tool.
Gas finish nailers
Similar to the fuel-driven brad nailers, the gas finish nailers come with an internal fuel reservoir, typically a cartridge, that releases a small quantity of gas into a combustion chamber. The gas flow and ignition are controlled by an electronic mechanism, and the explosion inside the combustion chamber drives the finish nails into the wood.
However, just like its brad nailer counterpart, the gas finish nailer is usually expensive and needs too much maintenance.
5. Cordless vs. pneumatic nailers
Most professionals and DIYers focus their choice on either cordless or pneumatic nailers. While there is no supreme best, we tend to like the pneumatic finish nailers more.
The finish nailers are intended for a workshop or home use, and more often than not, portability is not a major concern for the users. A pneumatic tool comes with the advantage of a continuous runtime as long as you make sure the compressor’s CFM and PSI are superior to the requirements of the tool, which translates into better time management.
6. Best gauge size
A quick look at the options available on the marker reveals finish nailers come in different gauge sizes. This means they can drive smaller or larger nails, depending on the specifications of the tool.
The most common gauge sizes are:
Both types of finish nailers can drive nails of variable lengths, usually up to 2.5 inches. These machines are ideal for most carpentry applications like installing skirting, crown molding, window and door casing, and chair rails to name just a few.
All finish nails are made of steel and are hard enough to drive through harder materials including hardwood, MDF, and plywood.
7. Best finish nails
There are two important things to consider when choosing the best finish nails for your project, their weight and the desired length.
- Weight: The weight of the finish nails is expressed in pennyweight (abbreviated ‘d’ from the Latin term “denarius”), which is an old British measurement unit still in use today. Their weight usually determines how easily the tool can drive the nails but also their length. The finish nails come in sizes from 2d (corresponding to a 1-inch length) to 20d (corresponding to a 4-inch nail) and their length increases by 0.25 inches for each size between 2d and 16d nails, and with half an inch for all subsequent sizes up to 20d nails.
- Length: To determine the right length needed for your project, measure the thickness of your workpiece, keeping in mind you’ll need a nail at least one inch longer. For example, if you want to fix a board that is half-an-inch thick, you’ll need a finish nail at least 1.5 inches long.
8. Straight vs. angled finish nailers
Finish nailers are either straight or angled, and this classification refers to the structure of their magazines. The difference is exactly as it seems, the straight nailers load nails in a straight position, while the angled magazine loads them at an angle.
The best finish nailers are the angled ones; these nailers have an angled nail magazine and a longer nose that allow you to reach corners and tight spaces and are also more precise in driving the nails. The angled nailers are also less cumbersome than their straight counterpart due to the position of the magazine, which makes them easier to maneuver. Their only drawback is the slightly higher cost of the angled nails.
9. Other features to look for in a finish nailer
The best finish nailer should also have the following features:
- A dual operating mode switching from sequential to bump drive allows the operator to choose between precision and speed and adds versatility.
- If you want to use the tool for a broader range of projects, choose one with an adjustable depth drive.
- A lockable trigger mechanism is an important safety feature to consider, as it minimizes the risk of accidental injuries.
- Look for a nailer with a built-in spotlight if you want to work in low light conditions or light up any darker corners.
- Easy storage can be ensured by a built-in hanging hook.