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    The Basics of Pin and Finish Nailers

    Just as tablesaws and sanders have taken a lot of the tedium out sizing workpieces and smoothing them, air nailers have turned the dicey job of swinging a hammer at a nail into a game of point-and-shoot. Once you have a nailer, and a small air compressor to power it, you’ll start walking around looking for things to fasten.

    You won’t need big framing nailers for woodworking, but smaller finish nailers are perfect. The two types to look for are brad nailers, which shoot 18-gauge brads with a small head on them, and pin nailers, which shoot even thinner brads with no head at all. These thin pins have less holding power than brads, but the hole they leave in the surface of the wood is so small that it almost disappears after you sand the wood and apply a finish!

    Of the two, your first choice should be the brad nailer. They are affordable, and they work for almost every nailing job a woodworker will face. You’ll use your brad nailer to assemble quick jigs in the shop, you’ll use it to attach trim and molding in your house, and you’ll use it for a number for furniture-building jobs, like nailing the backs onto cabinets and nailing face-frame parts onto built-in furniture. And if you need to fill the nail holes, it’s easy to do with colored wax pencils.

    Look for a brad nailer with a small, cushioned tip, so you can see exactly where the nail is going, and so you don’t mar the wood. Also, use only the longest brads you need for a particular job. Brads are pretty flexible, and the longest ones can curve inside the workpiece and poke out where you don’t expect them. One last tip: Before firing away at your precious project, shoot a few practice nails into a similar wood or plywood to make sure that the depth setting is adjusted properly to set the head of the nail just below the surface.

    Later on in your woodworking journey, you might want a pin nailer. These are great for jobs when you don’t want to leave much of a nail hole behind, or for nailing on very thin pieces, like the thin moldings that hold glass in place. You’ll want the same fine tip in a pin nailer, and the same rules apply.



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