Toolipedia: Brad Nailer

Toolipedia: Everything you wanted to know about an 18-Gauge Brad Nailer.

a brad nailer from senco with labeled parts | Construction Pro Tips

What is a brad nailer? 

A brad nailer is a powered nail gun that shoots 18-gauge brads (small nails)Brad nailers are used by woodworkers and especially finish carpenters to install casing and base trim up to 3/8 inches thick. For reference: larger guns, called finish guns, shoot 15-gauge and16-gauge nails and are used to install thicker trim (1/2” and up). When working with dainty trim, finish carpenters use a gun called a pinner which shoots tiny 23-gauge pin nails. Most brad guns can shoot brads that range in length from 5/8 inches to 2 inches. 

Here are the basic parts of an 18gauge brad nailer: 

  1. Air inlet 
  2. Belt hook  
  3. Nail slide release 
  4. Magazine 
  5. No-mar tip 
  6. Latch to gain access to clear jammed fasteners 
  7. Depth adjuster 
  8. Trigger 
  9. Handle  
  10. Adjustable exhaust 

How is a brad nailer used?  

  • To load most brad nailers: engage the slide release. 
  • Pull back the magazine slide.  
  • Insert the brads pointy end down.  
  • Ensure the brad heads rests in the appropriate groove (there are different grooves for different size brads) 
  • Close the nail slide and click it in place. 
  • Attach the air hose to the air inlet.  
  • Turn the adjustable exhaust so that it points away from your face. 
  • Hold the trim in place and put the tip on the location you wish to nail.  
  • Press the gun into the wood until the safety disengages.  
  • Pull the trigger. 


  • Remove air hose or battery when clearing jammed fasteners 
  • Do not remove or disengage the safeties  
  • Wear proper eye protection 
  • Keep hand away from the barrel as you shoot the nail gun 

What are the different types of 18-gauge brad nailer? 

  • Most brad nailers are pneumatic (air powered) which requires a compressor and air hoses 
  • Some are powered by a canister of compressed air 
  • Some nailers run on batteries 
  • Some run on fuel cells and batteries 
  • Older guns usually need to be oiled occasionally 
  • Some guns can shoot longer brads than others 

 What makes a good 18gauge brad nailer?  

  • Ability to shoot a wide variety of brad lengths 
  • Adjustable exhaust 
  • Depth adjuster 
  • Nomar tip 
  • Smaller tip for tight corners 
  • Clear sight-line to where the brad comes out 
  • Comfortable handle 
  • Dry-fire lockout (prevents gun from firing after the last brad has been fired) 
  • Light (for battery models) 

Senco makes high quality 18 gauge brad nailer

Construction Pro Tips


Brad Nailer Tip 

When nailing into door jambs or other areas where only one side shows, point the gun slightly to the hidden side where it won’t show if the nail pops through.   

LeRoy Demarest
I have worked for over a decade as an environmental scientist working on an advanced bioremdiation clean up project. For the past six years I have also worked as an adjunct instructor for several colleges, both F2F and online, teaching a number of science courses. Finally, I have been freelance writing for a variety of publications on the topics of: gardening, environment, construction, science, science education, academics and technical work.