Pin Nailer vs. Finish Nailer: How to Pick the Perfect Nail Gun

You may be familiar with the terms “pin nailer” and “finish nailer” if you’re a do-it-yourselfer or professional carpenter. Both of these tools see widespread use in the construction and woodworking industries, but they each accomplish distinct goals. In this article, we’ll compare and contrast pin nailers and finish nailers to help you pick the right one for your next job.

Overview of the Pin Nailer

best cordless 23 gauge pin nailerOne variety of pneumatic nail guns, known as pin nailer, is designed to drive tiny nails into wood and other materials. A typical length for these nails is under an inch, and they serve to secure paper or other lightweight items. Thin materials, such as molding or trim, can be attached securely with pin nails without the risk of cracking or splitting.

When to Use a Pin Nailer: For delicate materials like trim work, crown molding, or decorative molding, pin nailers perform well. They are also perfect for securing small pieces of wood to surfaces, such as picture frames on walls.

The use of a pin nailer has many benefits

Portability, lightweight, and user-friendliness are just a few of their many benefits. In addition to their precision, these tools also provide the advantage of allowing you to access areas that conventional nailers simply can’t. The advantages of using pin nailers are as follows:

  • Most pin nails lack a head and have the same diameter as a standard sewing needle.
  • Miniature pins are used in pin nailers. If you aim properly, a pin shot won’t cause your wood to crack. Using this device won’t harm your workpiece.
  • Pin nailers leave no visible holes in the workpiece because they use headless pins. Finishing the wood with paint, stain, or varnish is totally unnecessary here.
  • The thin, headless nails of a pin nailer make it ideal for use on even the most fragile objects.


Learn about the drawbacks of pin nailers by reading the points below:

  • Pin nailers are inferior to other fastening methods because of their weaker holding power. It is necessary to glue most surfaces after using a pin nailer to install nails.
  • A pin nailer’s limited functionality means it can only be used for a select few tasks.

Pin nailers have a wide variety of applications.

Pin nailers are typically used to fasten decorative elements like crown molding, trim, baseboards, and paneling. They are also great for use with veneers or other thin materials when constructing furniture or cupboards.

Tips for Using a Pin Nailer

When using a pin nailer, it’s important to make sure the air pressure is correct before beginning the project and to use nails that are appropriately sized for the task at hand. Wearing safety equipment like goggles and earplugs is also recommended before using this machine.

An Overview of Finish Nailers

Finish Nailer Kit 15 GaugeA finish nailer is a kind of pneumatic nailer that fires 2- to 2.5-inch long nails. These nails are used to fasten baseboards, crown molding, and cabinetry, which are thicker materials. Finish nails, which are visible in contrast to pin nails, must be covered with putty or wood filler before sanding and painting.

When to Use a Finish Nailer: For heavy items like baseboards, cabinetry, or furniture, finish nailers work well. They are perfect for applications where strength and stability are crucial since they offer more holding power than pin nailers.

Benefits of employing a finish nailer

Using a finish nailer has benefits such as holding down thicker materials and being concealable with wood filler. These instruments are also perfect for big projects because they drive nails more quickly and effectively than a hammer and nails. Finish nailers are small and delicate, and they have the following benefits:

  • This device controls the nail-shooting depth. This negates the need for additional tools like a nail set.
  • leaves fewer holes for headless features and occasionally doesn’t need to be sanded or filled.
  • Finish nails are more powerful than other types of nails. Their holding power is therefore quite strong.
  • Due to their small size, these are a good choice for furniture and cabinet building.
  • You may complete a variety of jobs with this adaptable tool, like installing baseboards, chair rails, and crown molding, among others.


Never assume that finishing nailers are without drawbacks. From the following points, identify the shortcomings of finish nailers:

  • not a good option for thin and delicate textiles.
  • There are frequent little nail holes that need to be filled or sanded.
  • not doing the dishes

Typical applications for finish nails

Baseboards, crown molding, cabinets, and furniture are among the things that finish nailers are frequently used for. They are also perfect for fastening heavier materials, such as flooring and deck boards.

The best ways to use a finish nailer

Checking the air pressure before beginning your project and utilizing the right size nail for the job are two best practices for using a finish nailer. When using this equipment, it’s also crucial to put on safety gear, including earplugs and safety glasses.

Comparison Between Pin Nailer and Finish Nailer

The size of the nails used by a pin nailer and a finish nailer is the primary distinction between them. Finish nailers normally use slightly bigger nails, usually between 15 and 16 gauge, whereas pin nailers often use smaller nails, typically between 23 and 18 gauge. Different holding powers and depths of penetration into the substance are the outcomes of this.

Typical features  Comparison of the two types of nailers

When deciding between a pin nailer and a finish nailer, there are several factors to consider, such as the type of project you’re working on, the thickness of the materials you’re using, and your budget. The typical attribute comparison chart is shown below:

Feature Pin Nailer Finish Nailer
Nail Gauge 23-18 15-16
Nail Length Up to 2 inches Up to 2-1/2 inches
Holding Power Low High
Depth of Penetration Shallow Deeper
Nails Per Magazine Up to 120 Up to 100
Nail Head Size Small Larger
Uses Delicate trim work, thin materials Furniture making, cabinet making, heavier trim work
Cost Less expensive More expensive
Skill Level Beginner to Intermediate Intermediate to Advanced

Size of Nails

The size of the nails used is the main distinction between a pin nailer and a finish nailer. Finish nailers normally use slightly bigger nails, typically between 15 and 16 gauge, whereas pin nailers typically use considerably smaller nails, typically between 23 and 18 gauge.

Depth of Penetration

Pin nailers do not penetrate as deeply as finish nailers since they employ smaller nails. When working with fragile materials that could be easily harmed by larger nails, this can be advantageous. But, a finish nailer would be a better option if you require a solid hold.

Possessing Power

Because finish nailers employ larger, deeper-penetrating nails than pin nailers, they have greater holding strength. They are therefore perfect for construction projects where durability and stability are crucial.

Efficiency and Quickness

Pin nailers often work more quickly and effectively than finish nailers because they use smaller nails. They are perfect for projects that call for fast driving and a lot of nails.

Cost and Maintenance

Pin nailers and finish nailers are both reasonably priced and simple to maintain from a financial and maintenance standpoint. Yet pin nailers are typically less expensive, lighter, and easier to use than finish nailers.

The Best Usage Comparison for Both Nailers

For delicate or lightweight applications where accuracy is essential, pin nailers are recommended. In order to attach thin materials without splitting or cracking them, such as molding or trim, they are also perfect.

For bigger jobs like attaching baseboards, crown molding, cabinetry, and furniture finish nailers are perfect. They work well for fastening heavier materials, such as flooring and deck boards.

Optimal use of comparison

It is advisable to use a pin nailer for delicate or light jobs when accuracy and little nail visibility are crucial. Such projects include, for instance:

  • Attaching baseboards, crown molding, and other tiny decorative trim pieces, such as chair rails.
  • Putting up mirrors, art, or images to hang
  • Making small fixes to the cabinets and furniture.
  • Putting together hobby items and little wooden crafts
  • Installing beadboard or thin paneling
  • Securing thin materials, such as cloth or upholstery, to a wooden frame
  • Installation of window and door trim or minor moldings

When holding strength over accuracy is more critical, a finish nailer is an appropriate tool to utilize on bigger jobs and thicker materials. Such projects include, for instance:

  • Installing flooring, cabinets, crown molding, and baseboards.
  • Building outside timber constructions like fences and decks
  • Constructing walls and framing them for construction projects.
  • Putting in sturdy shelves or storage containers
  • Putting together furniture pieces like bookcases, chairs, and tables
  • Fixing or changing broken trim or molding.
  • Installing external trim or siding on a house

When to use a finish nailer versus a pin nailer: Table

Project Pin Nailer Finish Nailer
Decorative trim Yes No
Hanging pictures/artwork Yes No
Furniture repairs Yes No
Wooden crafts Yes No
Thin paneling Yes No
Upholstery/Fabric Yes No
Small moldings Yes No
Baseboards No Yes
Crown molding No Yes
Cabinetry No Yes
Flooring No Yes
Wooden decks No Yes
Fences No Yes
Outdoor structures No Yes
Construction walls No Yes
heavy duty shelving No Yes
Furniture assembly No Yes
Damaged trim/molding No Yes
Siding/exterior trim No Yes

What Nailer Should You Purchase?

The particular requirements of your project will determine which nailer you should choose. A pin nailer can be a better option if you’re working with fragile materials or need to quickly drive a lot of nails. A finish nailer can be a better option if you require more gripping power and are working with heavy materials.


Cost is one of several basic considerations that are very important when purchasing nail guns. When comparing pin nailers and finish nailers based on pricing, brand and kind of material are significant factors to take into account.

A model from a high-end manufacturer, such as Metabo, Freeman, etc., will cost you $50 to $100. Whereas the cost of high-quality finish nailers from companies like NuMax, WEN, etc. is between $50 and $100. It appears that both will cost you the same amount of money in terms of price.

Nevertheless, if extra features like an air hose, starter kit, etc. are included with the pin nailer you choose, the price may go up.

Final Words

Finish and pin nails are both necessary tools for building and woodworking operations. Consider the type of project, the thickness of the materials, and your budget when choosing the correct tool.