When it comes to choosing the best tool for the job, there are a lot of factors to consider. Do you want a tool that’s easy to use and fast? One that can handle a variety of materials and projects? Or one that’s low-maintenance and durable?
In this article, we will compare pin nailers and finish nailers. We’ll look at the pros and cons of each type of tool and the key differences between them so you can pick the best one for your needs.
For woodwork and carpentry, it's important to pick the right tool if you want the best results. Both pin and finish nailers are popular choices among woodworkers. Depending on the project and personal preference, one might be better than the other one.
Let's find out more about these two types of nailers and see which one is the better option for your project.
Overview of Pin Nailer
Pin nailers are one of the most popular choices among woodworkers. They're small and lightweight, making them easy to maneuver. Plus, they're perfect for delicate projects that require precision.
However, pin nailers have their limitations. For example, they're not ideal for thicker pieces of wood because the nails are so thin.
Pin nailers mostly use thinner nails that are ideal for small projects such as light trimming, photo frames, and molding.
Pin nailers, more commonly known as micro pinners, drive in thin fasteners that resemble stiff wires. These pins come in the form of a stack and are inserted into finish or brad nailers similarly.
The main difference is that pin nails don't have heads. So they don't leave any noticeable holes after being driven in by a pin nailer.
Even though they don't provide much holding strength, pin nailers can be extremely helpful for trim, woodworking, and crafts.
Since they don't leave any noticeable holes, they can be used for a wide variety of applications where finish or brad nailers would not be ideal.
In addition, pin nailers don't damage the wood surface as much as other types of nailers.
This is because the nails are so thin that they barely make contact with the wood. As a result, pin nailers are perfect for delicate projects where you don't want to damage the wood.
These nailers come in both battery and pneumatic models so you are flexible with the power source.
What is a Pin Nailer Used For?
Now when it comes to the use cases of a pin nailer, there are quite a few of them, let's take a look at some of them:
Arts and crafts
One of the most popular use cases for a pin nailer is for arts and crafts. If you are someone who likes to make things out of wood or other materials, then a pin nailer can be a great tool to have.
It can help you attach two pieces of wood without damaging the surface.
Securing glue joints
Another great use for a pin nailer is to secure glue joints. If you are working on a project that requires glue, then a pin nailer can help you make sure that the joint is secure.
Depending only on glue is not recommended as it might not hold two pieces of wood together as securely. Pin nailers are powerful enough to penetrate the wood and create a tight seal.
Fastening thin materials
If you are working with thin pieces of wood, then a pin nailer can be the perfect tool to use. It can help you attach two pieces of material without damaging them and leaving any unsightly holes.
A good example would be attaching two pieces of trim or attaching a piece of molding to the wall.
Photo frames and other delicate projects
Thanks to the 23 gauge headless pins that most pin nailers use, they are perfect for delicate projects such as photo frames.
The small pins will not damage the surface of the wood and will leave very small holes that can be easily covered up. You can use these nailers both on front or back surfaces.
Decorative trim work
Since pin nailers don't have the best holding power, they are not ideal for trim work that will be subject to a lot of stress.
However, if you are doing decorative trim work that is not going to see a lot of wear and tear, then a pin nailer can be a great tool to use. It can help you attach two pieces of wood causing minimal damage to the surface.
Also Read: Pin Nailer Vs Brad Nailer
Overview of Finish Nailer
Unlike pin nailers, finish nailers are versatile tools that can be used for a wide variety of applications. These nailers use much thicker nails (usually between 15 and 16 gauge) which gives them better holding power.
As a result, they are perfect for more heavy-duty works that require more holding power such as baseboards, crown molding, and chair rails.
Some models can also use 15 - 23 gauge nails which gives them even more versatility.
Finish nailers have both straight and angled models.
The angled model is perfect for getting into tight spaces while the straight model is better for working on flat surfaces. Now it depends on your project as to which model you need.
Finish nailers come in both cordless and pneumatic models. Pneumatic models are going to be more powerful but they require an air compressor which can be a bit of an investment.
Cordless finish nailers are much more convenient and ideal for residential works and DIY projects.
Finish nailers have very good holding power making them ideal for thicker pieces of wood. These are not ideal for thinner pieces of wood as the nails are very thick and can cause damage.
In these cases, you might want to go for a pin nailer since they use much thinner nails.
Finish nailers are also very versatile and can be used for a wide variety of applications. These applications include baseboards, crown molding, chair rails, window casings, door frames, and much more.
Thanks to the different available models, you can find one that is perfect for your project.
Also Read: Finish Nailer vs. Framing Nailer
What is a Finish Nailer Used For?
When it comes to versatility, it can be hard to beat a finish nailer. These tools can be used for a wide variety of applications and can help you complete your project with ease. Here are some of the most common uses for finish nailers:
Windows and door casing
One of the most common uses for finish nailers is attaching window and door casing. The thick 15 -16 gauge nails that these nailers use can provide a stronghold that is perfect for door and window frames.
These nailers generate enough power to easily penetrate through the thick wood.
Crown molding is decorative trim work that is installed around the ceiling. This type of work requires nails to penetrate the hardwood which can be difficult to do with a regular nailer or hammer.
Thanks to the finish nailer, this task can be completed with ease. The finish nailer will ensure that the nails are driven deep into the wood so that they provide a strong hold.
Baseboards are another common use for finish nailers. These moldings are installed along the base of the wall and help to protect the wall from scuffs and scratches.
The finish nailer will help you to easily attach the baseboards to the wall with its powerful nails.
Finish nailers are a great choice for hardwood flooring as well. The thicker and bigger nails make it easy to penetrate through the hardwood and provide a stronghold.
This is the perfect tool for attaching planks of wood to the floor so that you can create a beautiful and durable hardwood floor.
Finish nailers can also be used for furniture projects. These tools can help you to easily attach the different pieces of wood to create sturdy and long-lasting furniture.
Chair rails would be a great example of a furniture project that would require the use of a finish nailer.
Difference Between a Pin Nailer and a Finish Nailer
There are significant differences between pin nailers and finish nailers!
The most important difference is the size of the nails that they use. Pin nailers use much thinner 23 gauge nails while finish nailers use thicker 15-16 gauge nails.
This makes finish nailers more suitable for thicker pieces of wood while pin nailers are better suited for thinner pieces of wood.
Another difference is that finish nailers are more versatile and can be used for a wider variety of applications. Pin nailers, on the other hand, can only be used on thinner pieces of wood and for smaller projects.
Since pin nailers use smaller and thinner nails, they are less likely to leave a mark or damage the wood.
Finish nailers, on the other hand, use thicker nails which can sometimes leave a visible hole. You might have to use wood putty to cover up the holes left by the finish nailer.
The pricing could also be a major difference as well! Finish nailers are usually more expensive than pin nailers. This makes sense because finish nailers are more versatile and offer more features.
Finish nailers also require more maintenance than pin nailers as well. This is because the thicker nails can sometimes get stuck in the gun which will require you to take it apart and clean it out.
Pin nailers, on the other hand, are much easier to maintain since the smaller nails are less likely to get stuck.
As you can see there are multiple differences between these two types of nail guns! Here is a chart so you can see the key differences at a glance:
Has less holding power
Has more holding power
23 gauge nails
15 - 16 gauge nails
Slightly on the lighter side
Slightly on the heavier side
Hardly noticeable damage
Can damage thinner woods
Decorative trim work, photo frame, attaching two thin pieces of woods, securing glue, etc…
Crown molding, trimming, hardwood flooring, furniture building, door, and widows, etc…
It’s on the cheaper side
It can be a bit pricy
What is Better, a Pin Nailer or a Finish Nailer?
There is no short answer to this question because it depends on what you will be using it for!
If you need a nail gun for small projects or thin pieces of wood, then a pin nailer would be a better choice.
Finish nailers are better suited for thicker pieces of wood and larger projects. They are also more versatile and can be used for a variety of applications.
It only comes down to what you need it for! If you need a nail gun for a specific project, then that will be the best type of nail gun for you.
Both pin nailers and finish nailers have their own set of pros and cons. It comes down to what your needs are!
Which One Should You Choose?
Both tools can be a great addition to your toolbox as they offer different advantages. It all comes down to what you need it for.
If you need a versatile tool that can be used for a variety of projects, then a finish nailer is the better choice. If you need a small and compact tool for smaller projects, then a pin nailer would be the better option.
No matter which one you choose, both tools can be a great addition to your toolkit! So make sure to consider what your needs are before making your final decision.
Brad is the ultimate DIY expert. Mostly self-taught, he has a lot of knowledge about the “do’s and donts” of nearly any home project. Brad routinely reviews new tools in the marketplace and provides a handful of helpful tips for aspiring do-it-yourselfers along the way. He is a lover of all things regarding building and creating.