Skip Navigation

DIY: How to Use a Brad Nailer Properly

DIY: How to Use a Brad Nailer Properly


Even if you're not "technically" a professional handyman, you still want your projects to look professional. DIY home repair ethusiasts will be happy to know that with the right tools and a little bit of knowhow, your next project can make it seem like you knew what you were doing the whole time. If you've got new doorways, window frames or crown moulding tasks on your to-do list, you're going to want to get comfortable with a brad nailer. We've put together some step-by-step instructions that should help make getting started with a brad nailer a little easier.


Man using a brad nailer to secure trim

1. Pick your power supply

Before you even get started, determining which type of brad nailer is right for your projects can save you all sorts of headaches later on. If you primarily work in a shop setting and have access to an air compressor, then an air-powered brad nailer could be a great option for you. If you're bouncing between jobsites, moving around the house or don't have access to an air compressor where you're working, then a versatile battery-powered model should make a great addition to your tool collection.

2. Safety first

Let's keep in mind that an alternate name for a brad nailer is a nail gun. These are powerful tools that forcefully apply fasteners with enough velocity to cause some serious damage and physical harm. Always wear the appropriate gear, including work gloves and eye protection, when you're working with a nail gun. When the tool isn't being used, keep your fingers away from the trigger and turn it off if possible. The contact safety tip should help prevent unwanted firings, but even when you've got the tip pressed against the surface of your material, be mindful of the gun's trajectory and the placement of your hands, fingers and other appendages.

3. Accessories are everything

Brad nailers are specifically designed for use with brad nails. Brad nails are specially designed for securing thin, delicate materials into place with less chance of splitting the wood than with larger nails and fasteners. All that said, if you're framing a house or installing carpeting, you're probably going to want a different tool. Brad nails are narrow, 18-gauge fasteners that are typically too small to hammer efficiently.

4. Measure twice

The last thing you want to do is work backwards to fix a mistake or cover up a blemish. Before you get ahead of yourself and do something you might regret, adjust the air pressure, set the fastener depth and mark up your materials with a pencil or chalk.

5. Don't let clutter get in the way

After you're finished using your brad nailer, take the time to put it away properly. If it came with a case, it should go back in the case. If it's corded, then unplug it and remember never to carry it by the cord itself. Disconnect the air hose from an air-powered model and wipe dust and debris from either style to prevent it from corroding or becoming jammed later on.