Brad Nail Gun - Longest Brads use

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Forum topic by JohnnyQ posted 12-23-2010 09:27 PM 5513 views 0 times favorited 16 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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12 posts in 2557 days

12-23-2010 09:27 PM

What are the longest 18 ga brad nails do you folks use (if you use them). I am a novice wood worker (book case for the girls room) and I have some molding to install. HD has a porter cable for $50 and it shoots up to 1-3/8 inches long brad. The next model up ($100) shoots 2 in brads. Will I ever need to shoot 1.5 to 2 in brads or will I instead jump up to a 16 ga finish nailer?
Merry Christmas

16 replies so far

View JBfromMN's profile


107 posts in 2193 days

#1 posted 12-23-2010 09:37 PM

1 1/4” brads are about the longest I use. That will get me through one 3/4” board and well into the next board. If for some reason I need a longer nail, I would go with the finishing nailer. That is a rare need in most cases. When wood working, if I need something with that long of a nail, I would look for another way to do the joint. The finishing nailer I have is used in home remodeling, I can not remember a wood working project I have ever used it on.

View Gregn's profile


1642 posts in 2400 days

#2 posted 12-23-2010 09:53 PM

I use 1 1/4” down to 5/8” with the 18 ga. If I need something longer I jump up to the 16 ga. nails.

-- I don't make mistakes, I have great learning lessons, Greg

View a1Jim's profile (online now)


115166 posts in 2994 days

#3 posted 12-23-2010 09:57 PM

If I’m using finish nails longer than 1 1/2” it is for hanging doors. I do have a couple of guns that shoot up to 2 1/2” nails one of them is a Grex 22 ga.

-- Custom furniture

View Brian024's profile


358 posts in 2817 days

#4 posted 12-23-2010 10:28 PM

1 1/4 is the longest I shoot. Check to see if they have a Campbell Hausfield, blue brad nailer. I bought it for $30 at HD and it gets used fairly often when I makes jigs.

View Raymond's profile


676 posts in 3144 days

#5 posted 12-23-2010 10:58 PM

I use from 5/8 to 2” Just depends on the application that I need. For installing trim work in my house we used almost totally 2” nails. For some reason when our house was build they used double layers of 5/8 drywall. Under that was plaster and lath. Makes for a very thick wall.

-- Ray

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Scott Bryan

27251 posts in 3239 days

#6 posted 12-23-2010 11:17 PM

Johnny, all my nailers shoot nails up to at least 2” in length. To tell the truth I have largely gotten away from using brads and now use my pin nailer almost exclusively. For trim I will generally go with 2” nails and for furniture use anything from 5/8” to 2”.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View makedust's profile


53 posts in 2334 days

#7 posted 12-23-2010 11:24 PM

I do a lot of cabinet type work. I use my brad nailer with 5/8 to 1-1/4 brad nails constantly. I use my pin nailer mostly for smaller molding installation…Ron

-- "Happiness is creating dust"

View Sawkerf's profile


1730 posts in 2485 days

#8 posted 12-23-2010 11:48 PM

I use 18ga brads from 5/8” to 2”, 23ga pins from 1/2” to 1”, and 16ga finish nails up to 2.5”.

If you get a brad nailer, get one that can handle several brad lengths.

-- Adversity doesn't build reveals it.

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 2491 days

#9 posted 12-24-2010 12:00 AM

I just did a job yesterday where I used 2 in brads. In theory, I could have used my finishing nailer but that would have been over kill. Besides, I would rather leave the smaller head of a brad visible instead of the larger head of a finishing nail.

I have an 23 gauge pinning gun, an 18 gauge brad nailer and a 16 gauge finishing nailer. I only use the finishing nailer when I am working as a carpenter (not a woodworker). If I could only have one, it would be the brad nailer.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View syenefarmer's profile


429 posts in 2497 days

#10 posted 12-24-2010 12:29 AM

On occasion I have shot 2” long brads but the majority of my brad usage is the 1-3/8” length brads.

View Loren's profile


8156 posts in 3065 days

#11 posted 12-24-2010 04:04 AM

The 2” 18 ga nails can be useful, but they have a tendency to curve as they go in,
sometimes blowing out the side of the piece – which is hard to fix and a pain besides.

Stick to under 1 3/8” to avoid blowout in 18 ga brads. Even then, I learned as as
pro to put a bit of “english” on the nailer to hedge against blowout. I suspect
all experienced brad gun users do the same, but I’ve never read about it. There’s
definitely a technique to using the guns that you learn from experience.

With so many affordable nailers on the market these days, it’s not hard to have
a 16 or 15 ga. nailer too. The 18 is definitely the most useful for cabinetmaking
and trim work. The 15 ga. and 16 ga. nails come in angled varieties which is useful
for getting into corners. The 15 ga. nails look more like “real” nails. I prefer 15,
but that’s a bit arbitrary – either 15 or 16 will do fine for a bigger cabinet nailer.
Look at the angle of the magazine as it seems to vary from brand to brand.

Also, look in your local phone book to see if there’s a shop that sells air tools and
find out what they keep on hand. The big box stores seldom have all the nail
sizes you would need for cabinetmaking, and certainly not for all brands of gun.

View EEngineer's profile


1054 posts in 3030 days

#12 posted 12-24-2010 04:44 AM

Just this summer I acquired a compressor and bought an 18 ga brad nailer. I ended up using a lot of 2” nails. Blowout can be a problem, but I’ve found that 2” nails hold like nothing else.

A couple of weeks ago, I put up about 70 feet of chair rail up the stairs and around the hallway in my house. I used 2” nails for the main body (tried to hit every other stud) and 5/8” on all the outside mitered corners (all with construction adhesive too). I actually had one 2” do a complete 180 and come back out the chair rail ~ 1/2” from where it went in. I wonder if there was a rock in the plaster.

I love woodworking with this thing. Rather than tying up all my clamps for each glueup, I clamp and glue, nail brads to hold everything together while the glue dries and move the clamps on to the next stage.

-- "Find out what you cannot do and then go do it!"

View DrDirt's profile


4133 posts in 3159 days

#13 posted 12-24-2010 06:30 AM

I have used the Porter Cable BN200 and used 2 inch brads to tack up a chair rail since it was about 1 inch thick sitting on top of 1/2 inch drywall, there is only 1/2 inch of brad in the studs + whatever portion of the brad was countersunk.

You can always shoot short nails with the BN200 but not long nails with the other gun.

-- 'Political correctness is fascism pretending to be manners' ~George Carlin

View pmayer's profile


845 posts in 2482 days

#14 posted 12-25-2010 06:34 AM

I shoot 2” brads all the time, and I think you will not regret spending the additional $ for the capacity.

-- PaulMayer,

View Julian's profile


880 posts in 2942 days

#15 posted 12-26-2010 03:49 AM

I have been a trim carpenter for over 15 years and I never use a brad longer than 1 1/4. If it needs to be longer I just use a 16 gauge nail. I also love using 5/8 pins in my micro pinner. It is all about the right nail for the job.

-- Julian, Park Forest, IL

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