Finish nailers are the sort of tool that you have definitely seen before, but probably wouldn’t be able to name or describe if someone asked you to.
So, what exactly do they do?
Well, generally, they are used to nail down or attach finishing materials such as molding or trim. Finish nailers use nails without heads so they can appear practically invisible once inside and won’t ruin the look of the finishing.
Finish nailers can be intimidating and it’s difficult to work out exactly what kind you need and how to know if you’ve found a good one.
So, to help you out, we’ve put together a list of the best finish nailers to help you feel a bit less overwhelmed.
Best Finish Nailers
OUR TOP PICK
Specifications at a glance:
- 16 Gauge
- Nail Range: 1” to 2 ½”
Our top pick for the best of the best finish nailers is the NuMax SFN64 Pneumatic. This finish nailer is suitable for DIY-ers but will still provide a professional finish at an affordable price.
With its no mar safety tip, this NuMax SFN64 Pneumatic Straight Finish Nailer provides increased precision so is great for projects that will be out on show. Increased precision will also come from the fact that this is a lightweight finish nailer and has a handle designed for extra grip and comfort.
Finish nailers are strong and powerful tools and can be quite heavy so, even with a good eye, they can be difficult to use properly. Making sure your nail goes in the right place is one of, if not the, most important thing to aim for when using a finish nailer, so these features are really useful (especially for a nervous beginner).
As the cheapest item on this list (at the time of writing), this NuMax finish nailer is a great option for the part-time DIY-er who doesn’t want to spend a fortune on a tool that they will only use every now and then.
Another great reason this finish nailer is great for the part-time DIY-er is its durable aluminum body that is still lightweight. If you’re not used to using pneumatic tools, finish nailers can be a bit difficult to get the hang of.
But the lightweight nature of this tool will make it easier for beginners to use and become used to, without worrying that the nailer is too weak. But with that said, this finish nailer is better suited to lighter DIY, rather than big jobs such as building something structural.
Like most finish nailers, the NuMac SFN64 is pneumatic. This finish nailer has an interesting feature as it has an exhaust that can be adjusted to any angle. This is great as it allows the user to work in any space and area without the exhaust blowing air into their face.
This finish nailer is best suited to window casing, door installation, baseboards, picture frames, chair rails, rail molding, decorative trim, furniture trim, and crown molding.
- No mar tip
- 360° adjustable exhaust
- Good for light DIY
- May not be powerful enough for very heavy duty projects
Specifications at a glance
- 16-Gauge Nails
- Depth Adjustment Wheel
- Rubber Handle
- 100 Nail Capacity
- Nail Range: ¾” to 2 ½”
The WEN 61764 Straight Finish Nailer is a powerful tool that is entirely under your control. With a rubber handle for extra grip, you can be sure you will keep your hand steady whilst you’re aiming the nailer. This will keep your nails straight, your finish protected, and your hands safe.
The depth adjustment wheel gives you complete control over how deep the nail will go, so you can make sure you will get the exact finish you want and won’t risk damaging the wood underneath.
With a magazine nail capacity of 100, you won’t find yourself regularly stopping to reload, but when you need to, the spring-loaded nail indicator will let you know. The WEN 61764 also features a quick-release nose so, should any of those 100 nails become jammed, they can be easily released so you don’t have to worry about attempting to dislodge a nail from a pretty powerful tool.
Another safety feature is the rubber-gripped handle that will help you keep your aim steady, which will also keep you safe and your finish looking clean and professional.
Although not the cheapest finish nailer on this list, it is still (at the time of writing) a very affordable option for such good quality. This finish nailer has all the features you need to create a professional-looking finish without having to pay professional prices.
As well as the finish nailer itself, you will also receive several accessories including safety goggles, Allen keys, and a carry case.
This finish nailer can be used on baseboards, trim work, wooden furniture, cabinets, hardwood flooring, crown molding, and paneling.
- Includes carry case
- Magazine holds up to 100 nails
- Depth adjustment wheel
- Requires separate air compressor
Specifications at a glance
- 104 Nail Capacity
- Nail Range: 1 ¼” to 2 ½”
This is a slightly different option than most of the other options on this list as it is an angled finish nailer.
An angled nailer is great for getting into corners and tight spaces. It will also require heavier gauged nails than a straight finish nailer. (Read on or scroll down for more in-depth information about the difference between straight and angled finish nailers in our buyers’ guide).
Another way that this finish nailer is different from most of the others on this list is that it holds 15 gauge nails. 15 gauge nails are thicker than 16 or 18 gauge nails and are pretty standard for angled finish nailers.
If you’re working on something that requires you to get into tight spaces or needs some heavy-duty security, then this angled finish nailer is the best option. Finish nailers with a higher gauge will be smaller and should be used for more delicate finishes and trims.
If you need something powerful and industrial that will guarantee strength and solidity, then the Senco AG0001N FinishPro is the one.
Although it uses thicker, stronger nails that doesn’t mean this finish nailer is any slower than the rest. You can still get the job done quickly and professionally as the EZ-Clear Latch feature eliminates any downtime that might be caused by fastener jams.
But, with that professional surety comes a solid professional price. This finish nailer is by far the most expensive option on this list so make sure you know exactly what you need before you get started or you might end up spending a lot of money on something that will damage your finish.
- Professional quality
- Case included
Specifications at a glance
- 16 Gauge
- Depth Adjustment Dial
- Nail Range: 1” to 2 1/”
Metabo might seem like a name you don’t recognize, but once you know this brand used to be known as Hitachi, your perception of it will likely change. Hitachi/Metabo is a well-known brand that you can rely on for good quality and professional standard tools.
This finish nailer features two fire modes, one bump fire and one sequential fire, which will give you extra control over your work. Bump fire allows you to quickly fire nails by bumping the safety tip against the surface you’re firing in to.
Sequential fire is a slower process and allows you to fire the nail after pressing the safety tip and then pressing the trigger button. Then, to use another nail you need to release the trigger and lift the tool before pressing the safety tip to the surface and pressing the trigger again.
The bump fire setting is best suited to big projects that don’t require much accuracy. Sequential fire is better used for a project where accuracy and precision are needed. The Metabo HPT finish nailer also features a simple ergonomically designed switch that allows you to quickly transition between bump fire and sequential fire.
One of the disadvantages of a pneumatic tool is that there will be an endless amount of air filtering out of it. The Metabo HPT finish nailer features a 360° adjustable exhaust to keep air out of your face whilst you’re using it.
This finish nailer also features a unique air duster button that expells compressed air from a hole at the front of the tool. This can be used to blow away any wood dust that has accumulated from your work and will give you a better view of the space you’re working on and a cleaner finish.
- Dial to adjust the drive depth
- Two nail firing settings
- Not suited for heavy-duty projects
Specifications at a glance
- 15 Gauge
- Jam Release Mechanism
- Depth Adjustment Dial
- Nail Range: 1 ¼” to 1 ½”
- Battery Powered
Another angled finish nailer, this BOSTITCH tool also shoots thick 15 gauge nails but is slightly different to the Senco AG0001N FinishPro. One of the biggest differences is that the BOSTITCH is not a pneumatic finish nailer but is instead battery powered.
Alternatives to pneumatic finish nailers sometimes need to be connected to a power outlet by a cord. This is incredibly restrictive and, although it means the finish nailer won’t run out of charge, using a cordless finish nailer is a much more freeing option.
Having to take a break to recharge the battery is worth getting rid of the restrictive cord.
This finish nailer also features Smart Point Technology which BOSTITCH states will aid nail placement as the nose of this tool is smaller and the tool does not need to be activated by compressing the contact strip.
- Dial for drive depth control
- Includes carry case
- Includes extra no-mar tips
Best Finish Nailers Buying Guide
Buying any kind of DIY equipment can be intimidating, no matter how experienced you are, especially when you’re buying anything automated, pneumatic, or potentially dangerous.
So, whether you’re an old hand or have only recently taken on a big project, we’ve put together a guide to help you out when buying your first finish nailer.
Brad Nailer vs. Finish Nailer
Brad nailers and finish nailers are very similar tools but they have important differences. Brad nailers use 18 gauge nails whereas finish nailers use nails of 15 or 16 gauge.
Technically, brad nailers don’t actually shoot nails but very small versions of nails called “brads”. Brad nailers are smaller and use thinner brads/nails so should be used for thinner and more delicate trim. Nail finishers, in contrast, use thick nails and so are better for heavy-duty products, such as furniture or other carpentry.
Straight or Angled Finish Nailers
Straight and angled finish nailers have only a few differences, but they are important and will make a difference if you use the wrong kind.
Angled finish nailers are better suited to small spaces and use heavier nails so are best for areas that won’t be seen as much, for example, the backs of pieces of furniture.
Straight finish nailers use thinner nails and are better suited for areas that will be exposed often. You are more likely to be able to see the nail from the outside with an angled finish nailer, but they will still be relatively hidden and won’t stick out like they would if hammered in. For straight finish nailers, the nail will be better hidden within the material.
The strength of the material you’re working with is important to consider when choosing a finish nailer as they are very powerful tools.
If you use a finish nailer on anything too thin or weak, then it can damage the material. When you’re buying the material for your project, make sure to ask about the strength and thickness of it, it’s even worth asking directly if it is suitable for use with industrial power tools.
If you’re an avid DIY-er, you might have used some professional tools before, but even the most experienced professional can make a mistake and become injured. Buying a powerful tool such as a finish nailer can be dangerous, but that doesn’t mean you have to leave it to the professionals.
Don’t be put off by the industrial look of these tools - they look professional because they’re good quality! And the better the quality, the safer you will be. You will of course still need to take precautions and read the instructions really closely.
It can be easy to look up “How to attach a wooden trim”, be told to head to Amazon to grab a finish nailer, take one look at the products listed, and think “Nope, not worth it.” But don’t be intimidated; as long as you read the instructions and do everything properly, you can still do it!
Frequently Asked Questions
What kind of nails does a finish nailer use?
This depends on the finish nailer. As mentioned above, straight finish nailers use thin nails, whereas angle finish nailers use thicker nails.
The nail length that a finish nailer uses will vary depending on the tool and its capabilities. Most finish nailers will be able to fit nails of 1” to 2 ½”, so make sure to choose a finish nailer that will be able to match the type of hold you will need.
What can I use a finish nailer on?
There are lots of things you can use a finish nailer for, so long as they are wooden.
Can finish nailers be used for framing?
There are specific tools that can be used for framing, such as framing nailers, but it is possible to use a finish nailer for framing.
The tool you use depends on the size and width of the frame you’re working with. If you’re building a frame for a smaller project, then a finish nailer might be okay to use. But if you’re making something large and substantial, you should probably go with a framing nailer, just to make sure you do the job properly.
There might be the temptation to get one of each as they are intended for two similar but different jobs. But, if you’re an amateur DIY-er, then having two might be excessive. If you do a lot of jobs and DIY is more of a hobby than a necessity and you think you would get a lot of use out of both tools then go ahead and buy both.
But, if you only do the odd job when you need to or when you’re feeling creative, or perhaps you’re about to start a home renovation project, then a finish nailer should be enough. A finish nailer can be used for quite a few more things, so you almost have a two in one tool.