Last Updated on March 28, 2023 by Barry Gray
Is anything more tiring than physically hammering in nail after nail? I do admit that it’s kind of boring, and then there are those times when I don’t pay enough attention and smack my thumb in the process.
But technology is terrific because you don’t have to sit or stand there hammering in all those nails one by one, taking up precious project time. Instead, you can use a nail gun for that very same process.
I remember the first time I saw a nail gun in action. I admit it was pretty cool being able to fire in those nails in seconds. The speed at which the fencing project was finished also blew my mind.
After that occasion, I just had to get my own nail gun. Let’s face it, you always come across projects where nailing something down feels like it takes up all of your time, and who wants to be doing that?
But I get it. This opens up another problem: so many nail guns are out there on the market that choosing one is tricky. So, I’m going to make your life a whole lot easier.
What you are going to find below is my list of six of the best nail guns for woodworking available to buy right now. I promise you will find the perfect nail gun for your own experience level, budget, and needs.
- Best Overall Nail Gun for Woodworking – DeWalt 18-Gauge Brad Nailer Kit DWFP12231
- Best Pneumatic Brad Nail Gun – WORKPRO 18-Gauge Brad Nailer
- Best Cordless Nail Gun – Milwaukee M18 FUEL GEN II 18-Gauge Cordless Nail Gun
- Best Budget Nail Gun – WEN 61721 Pneumatic Nail Gun
- Best Finish Nail Gun – Makita 15 Gauge Angled Nailer
- Best Framing Nail Gun – Porter-Cable Plastic Coated Framing Nail Gun
But if you have never used a nail gun before, then don’t worry. You will also find a series of tips on what to look out for when choosing a new nail gun.
How I Made My List
With so many nail guns available, I had a tough time creating my list, but I had clear ideas for what I wanted to focus on. Of course, I also used my own power tool experience to help narrow down the options.
I only wanted to recommend nail guns that are straightforward to use. All you want is for them to fire in those nails and let you move on with your project. That meant they should be easy to both load and fire.
But that wasn’t all.
I also wanted reliability and that it didn’t pose a problem if the nail gun jammed or anything else. You don’t want your nail gun to be out of action regularly, so I’ve ensured each model listed below makes life easy for you in this respect as well.
Add in the need for it to be portable, capable of being used in any situation, and just the overall speed of it firing in those nails, and what you will find below are six nail guns that meet all those criteria.
But I didn’t end there. I also spent time checking out what the owners of the different nail guns had to say about their own experiences. That allows me to determine various potential issues in advance to only then provide you with the best nail guns on the market.
After all that, I was left with this list of six.
Best Overall Nail Gun for Woodworking – DeWalt 18-Gauge Brad Nailer Kit DWFP12231
- Power: Compressed air
- Nail Size: ⅝ – 2” length
DeWalt has a fantastic reputation for producing some of the best tools, and this 18-gauge brad nail gun is another item on a long list. I love that this nailer kit incorporates an extremely reliable and highly sturdy tool, and it punches those nails into the woodwork with very little effort.
Even though it has more than enough power, I feel it doesn’t go over the top. Also, I appreciate how they have incorporated a rubber grip, which does a fantastic job of absorbing some power, making it more comfortable to use.
This model uses 18-gauge nails and can work on nails ranging from ⅝” to 2” in size. That increases the number of ways you can use this nail gun, so don’t feel too restricted with this model.
From a trigger perspective, it comes with a semi-automatic/sequential trigger. That does mean it’s more difficult for you to fire off those nails by accident, which is a great thing.
In addition, it does come with a tool jam mechanism, which makes the nail gun safer to use. Also, this model has a rear exhaust system. This is designed to remove those small particles and ensure you have a clean surface to work on.
Overall, this nail gun is easy to use, quick to set up, and brilliant at what it does.
- It’s packed with power and fires those nails in with ease
- It’s very safe to use since you cannot really fire a nail by accident
- It works with an array of sizes of nails
- The motor requires next to no maintenance
- The rubber grip makes it comfortable to hold
- For someone new to nail guns, it may come across as too powerful
Best Pneumatic Brad Nail Gun – WORKPRO 18-Gauge Brad Nailer
- Power: Pneumatic
- Nail Gauge: 18
- Nail Length: ⅜ – 2”
While I get that some people may be unaware of the WORKPRO brand, I think that’s unfortunate because this brad nailer is a fantastic example of what’s out there regarding a pneumatic nail gun.
The first thing I want to point out is that this nail gun is very light at just over 4lbs in weight. That means fatigue is not a problem even when using it for an extended time. But that’s not the main reason why I love this nail gun.
This nail gun allows you to control how far the nail will go into the wood. This is achieved via an adjustment wheel, and even though it has three levels, it still offers some real variability.
I appreciate how easy this model is when it comes to setting it up as well. All you need to do is open the magazine latch, add the nails, close it up, and hit the trigger. It’s straightforward and highly effective.
Overall, I love this lightweight nail gun, and I’m convinced you will also appreciate what it can achieve.
- It’s very light at just over 4lbs in weight
- It’s one of the easiest nail guns to set up
- You can adjust how deep it fires in the nails
- It has a 360-degree exhaust system to keep things clear
- It’s sturdy even though it’s very light
- It can leave the occasional dent in wood if held too close
Best Cordless Nail Gun – Milwaukee M18 FUEL GEN II 18-Gauge Cordless Nail Gun
- Nail Gauge: 18
- Nail Size: ⅝ – 2 ⅛”
I know some individuals prefer a cordless power tool, and you have several options with this when it comes to a nail gun. However, I think this model by Milwaukee is the best on the market, and I admit it’s mainly due to the battery and how it operates. Simply, this nail gun comes with one of the best batteries on the market, and it feels as if it can last forever.
But this nail gun is about more than the battery. I also appreciate how this nail gun makes clean holes, and it’s very easy to get the same depth every time. It’s helped by its precision tip, so it’s tough to make a mess of things with this nail gun.
I appreciate that you can just start using this nail gun immediately, and there’s no sense of warming up time. It comes with both sequential and contact actuation modes, which means it can fire out three nails a second.
The 18V battery does deliver a crazy amount of power. It means it can sink 2” long nails into solid oak and does so easily.
Overall, this nail gun is straightforward to use and delivers powerful results without too many problems.
- The battery is amazing
- It has a vast amount of power
- You can take it out of the box and use it
- It works with larger than normal nails
- It’s cordless, so portability is not an issue
- It’s not the correct nail gun for a beginner to DIY
Best Budget Nail Gun – WEN 61721 Pneumatic Nail Gun
- Nail Gauge: 18
- Nail Size: ⅜ – 2”
This WEN model could be the perfect example if you want to get your hands on a budget nail gun. However, don’t think that a budget model means you miss out for a second because this nail gun can do so much.
First, it can cope with firing out several sizes of nails ranging from ⅜” to 2” in size. That’s adequate for most individuals and how they plan to use their nail gun.
This gun does work with air compression, and I find it does measure up well against those nail guns with a higher price tag. It does mean you should have no issues firing nails into tough wood with this model.
Even though it’s a budget model, it still comes with a depth adjustment wheel. I love this since it does improve your sense of control over the nail gun. Furthermore, the control aspect is enhanced by a rubber grip making the nail gun exceptionally comfortable to hold.
Finally, the nail capacity is impressive since it can hold a magazine of 106 nails. Overall, this budget nail gun over-delivers when you compare its price to others on the market.
- It gives you a chance to change the depth
- You can use the nail gun with various nail sizes
- It’s light at around 3lbs in weight
- It has a fantastic grip
- It does an excellent job of absorbing the shock and power
- You have to get all of the accessories on your own
Best Finish Nail Gun – Makita 15 Gauge Angled Nailer
- Nail Gauge: 15
- Nail Length: 1 ¼ – 2 ½”
When it comes to a finish nail gun, I think this model by Makita is one you should pay some attention to. This 15 gauge nail gun fires nails from 1 ¼” to 2 ½” in length, but while that’s impressive, it’s not the only reason why I love this gun.
It’s the fact this model is also an angled nailer. It works at angles of 34 degrees, and the reason why I love this because it makes life easier when getting into baseboards and even working in corners. So, if that’s the type of project you are working on, then you will appreciate how this model makes it easier for you.
But I also appreciate the overall design of this nail gun. It’s light at around 4lbs, but it’s also ergonomically designed so that it feels comfortable in your hand. That means you can use this nail gun for an extended period without worrying about fatigue.
I do love how this model comes with a rubberized tip. This does mean it’s highly unlikely the nail gun will damage the surface, so you get a cleaner end result than you thought possible.
Overall, it’s the fact this nail gun works on an angle that makes it stand out from most on the market.
- The angle does make life a lot easier
- The rubber tip protects the surface
- It’s light and comfortable to hold
- It’s straightforward to set up
- It’s sturdy with a magnesium body
- It would only be better if it could work with smaller nails
Best Framing Nail Gun – Porter-Cable Plastic Coated Framing Nail Gun
- Nail Type: 21-degree plastic collated nails
- Nail Gauge: 23
- Nail Length: 2” – 3 ½”
My final option is a framing nail gun; in this instance, the Porter-Cable plastic-coated framing nail gun stands out. This nail gun works with a 23 gauge, and the nail length ranges from 2” up to 3 ½”, which I admit is large in size but is the best option for framing.
But this nail gun is really a heavy-duty gun, which you need for those framing options. However, you need those 21-degree plastic collated nails, an air compressor, and an air hose to get it working. But it’s all easy to put together and use, which is a real bonus.
I also love the adjustment options that come with this model. You can change the nails’ depth and the firing options between sequential and contact actuation. I appreciate you have both options, as it makes using the tool a lot easier.
Overall, this is a sturdy framing nail gun and one that will not let you down, even if you plan on firing thousands of nails over the next few months.
- You can easily adjust the depth in seconds
- You can change between firing modes depending on your needs
- This nail gun is heavy duty
- It’s still lightweight, which is perfect for extended use
- It works smoothly time and time again
- It can be tricky putting everything together the first time
How to Choose the Right Nail Gun for Woodworking
The six different nail guns listed above are all fantastic, in my opinion, but I understand that choosing one can be tough when you aren’t sure what it is that you are looking at. So, I’m going to make your life that bit easier.
Understand the Nail Type You Require
The first thing is to understand what you need your nail gun to be able to do. Is it a framing nail gun? How about a finisher to round off those projects? How about a brad nailer for trim work?
Think about the nail types like this.
A brad nailer typically uses 18-gauge nails, and it’s perfect for working with trim.
A finish nailer is similar to a brad nailer, but you can use it for trim and baseboards. Nails are either 15-gauge or 16-gauge and larger in size.
A pin nailer uses 23-gauge nails and is used on delicate wood where you do not require a lot of holding power. These nails are weaker and with less hold, but they provide a clean finish.
This is self-explanatory, but this is the best option for framing projects and uses larger nails.
Nail guns are also powered in different ways. The most common is a pneumatic gun using compressed air to fire the nails into the wood. This model is light, but you require an air hose and air tank for it to work, so take that into consideration.
Another option is an electric-powered nail gun. I see this as the best option for those smaller projects indoors since you do have the restriction of the cable to take into consideration.
The final option is battery-powered, which does give you absolute portability. However, you need to be aware of the power in the battery, so you don’t run out of power too soon.
For me, think about where you plan on using your nail gun and how often to help determine the way you want your nail gun to be powered.
Firing the Nail Gun
Pay attention to how you fire the nail gun. Is it by a trigger, or does it fire the nail when you press it against the material? This second option is contact actuation, which means you can work faster. However, I do prefer a nail gun that allows me to switch between the different options as I feel it gives me so many options.
Adjustments and Loading
You should also try to get your hands on a nail gun with a depth adjustment wheel. That means you can change how far the nail will sink into the material, and this variability is a great thing.
Also, how do you load the magazine, and how many nails can the nail gun hold? If you plan on firing out a lot of pins at one time, then you do need to have a magazine capacity of more than 100 nails to make it worthwhile.
But overall, I feel the key part is knowing the type of nail gun you want to complete your project. As long as you have that understanding, I don’t think you will have too many problems with making your decision.
That is my list of the six best nail guns for woodworking, and I know each model can do a stunning job and do so with absolute ease. I believe any one of the six will perform well and make your projects significantly easier to complete.
A nail gun has the potential to really speed up your projects in ways you never expected. They are easy to use, highly effective at what they do, and ultimately they let you get on with other things as you spend less time hammering those nails in by hand.
If you know you will need to nail things down regularly, then I strongly suggest investing in a nail gun. Remember, if you feel unsure which one to buy or even what to look for, then go ahead and check out my tips listed above. They are sure to make life easier, and you should have no real issue with making your decision.