The primary job of any nailer is to fire a nail into wood so that you don’t have to pound it in by hand. That being said, there are actually many different nailers and staplers available for a variety of applications. Nailers range from light to heavy-duty, so it’s a good idea to keep your project in mind as you research these tools.
At the light-duty end of the spectrum you have headless pinners. These tools fire 23 to 24 gauge headless fasteners which are great for light wood assembly, finish and trim work, moulding and decorative trim, mirror and picture frame assembly, craft work, sign work and a great deal more. Since the fasteners are very small and headless they only make a tiny hole so you don’t need to use filler to hide them. This makes these units a great time saver for lighter work.
Brad nailers are great for medium or light-duty projects and are a good multi-purpose choice if you are just starting out. They fire 18 gauge nails up to 2” long and are a favorite among crafters and DIY-ers. Common uses for this tool include repairing furniture, installing moulding, crafts, lattice and making photo frames.
If you’re installing cabinets, staircases and chair rails on a regular basis then a finishing nailer is the tool for you. They fire 15 or 16 gauge fasteners and are better for jobs that require a little more holding power. This is not a nailer that you would use everyday, but it is a good investment if you are planning to take on a few larger renovation projects.
When it comes to heavy-duty fastening, framing nailers are the only way to go. Any project which involves framing, sub flooring, fencing, decking, modular housing construction or major remodeling is going to require one of these tough little numbers.
Any job that involves asphalt shingles or insulation board is probably going to call for a roofing nailer. They generally hold a large number of nails and are designed to take a lot of abuse, as anyone who has dropped one off the roof can attest to! This is not a tool that you will see in every workshop, but it does serve the purpose for specific jobs.
Palm nailers serve a slightly different purpose. You can only feed them one nail at a time, but they are extremely lightweight and compact. This allows them to easily fit where a conventional nailer or hammer and nail would be unable to go. These tools average around 3 lbs and fit easily into the palm of your hand.
Although they don’t fire nails, staplers tend to fall into the nailer category as well. Staples are more visible than nails and do not leave as nice a finish on your project, but they are good for hidden areas on furniture or crafts, as well as for making boxes and shipping pallets.