The 10 Best Finish Nailers
We spent 45 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top choices for this wiki. There are a plethora of ways to put the finishing touches on a construction project, but when you need greater holding strength than a brad nailer can deliver, you'll want to step it up to one of these finish nailers. Ideal for both professional construction crews and do-it-yourself enthusiasts, this selection offers something for all kinds of jobs. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best finish nailer on Amazon.
A Brief History Of Nail Guns
Unfortunately, railroad security mistook the prototype for a real gun.
One day, the group met a man in a bar, and he grew interested when they discussed their nail gun prototype.
An idea borrowed from the bloody trenches of WWII. A famous newsman potentially being held-up on a crowded train. And a perfectly-timed assist from the president of Skippy brand peanut butter.
Sound like the start of a paperback thriller? Actually, it's all part of the story of how the nail gun came into existence.
In the mid-1950s, a group of friends in Winsted, Minnesota, were drinking beer and ruminating on how they could be drinking more beer if they only had more money. One of the men, a carpenter named Reuben Miller, brought up the idea of an automatic nailer that would work like the machine guns the men had encountered in WWII.
Soon, Miller and two pals had developed and patented six workable models of their new nail gun. Now all they needed was money.
Fate would soon lend them a hand in that department. One day, the group met a man in a bar, and he grew interested when they discussed their nail gun prototype. They demonstrated their new invention, and the stranger — Jack Keuhn, president of Skippy Peanut Butter — was impressed enough to invest $5,000 on the spot.
Later, while on a train ride to meet with a potential backer, the men — who had a knack for being in the right place at the right time, apparently — recognized famous newsman Douglas Edwards. Striking up a conversation, the men ended up showing the broadcaster their prized contraption, as well.
Unfortunately, railroad security mistook the prototype for a real gun. When the group demonstrated the gadget's true purpose, however, railroad officials recognized their mistake — and helped them secure a meeting with the Independent Nail Company.
After the meeting was over, the group turned down a $25,000 offer from the company, choosing instead to form their own corporation. It was at this point that their luck ran out, however, as they soon realized that their skill as inventors was far superior to their abilities as businessmen.
The company soon failed, and the bank foreclosed on all their assets — including their patents. These were sold at auction, where they were quickly snapped up by Bostitch, a Boston-based toolmaker. By 1965, Bostitch had released their own version of the pneumatic nailer, and today they are one of the giants in the industry.
While the wild ride may not have ended the way that Miller and friends would have liked, it certainly makes for a great story — and a reminder that, when faced with a golden opportunity, you really have to nail it.
Choosing Fhe Right Finish Nailer
Finish nailers are extremely useful tools, but they're not cheap, so it's important to do your homework before making a purchase.
First off, determine what size nails you'll need for your jobs. If you're a professional carpenter, you'll likely need a variety of nailers in different gauge sizes. On the other hand, if you're a weekend warrior, you'll likely find that a 15- or 16-gauge nail is versatile enough to accomplish most of the tasks you'll encounter.
If you really need on-gun nail storage, belt hooks, or attachments, then you can find models that sport those features.
You'll also need to decide how you'll want your gun to be powered. Most are pneumatic, meaning that you'll need some form of compressed air to fire the nails. However, there are also cordless electric options, which aren't as powerful, but are much easier to use in tight spaces.
Not all nail guns have the same firing mechanism, either. Some have bounce-fire triggers, which means that it will fire a nail every time you bump the nose into the surface. This is excellent for professionals who need to install a lot of fasteners quickly, but novices are probably better off with the traditional, sequential-firing triggers.
Beyond that, most of the differences are relatively inconsequential. If you really need on-gun nail storage, belt hooks, or attachments, then you can find models that sport those features. Don't allow a neat gizmo to charm you into buying an inferior nailer, however, as the important thing is how well it does the job.
Tips For Using A Finish Nailer
A finish nailer's primary job is to install molding or other trim quickly and easily. If you've ever had to hammer down a baseboard, then you already know how much of a pain that can be — and that's the frustration that a finish nailer can save you.
Once you've got a finish nailer in your toolbox, you'll find yourself looking for reasons to use it — and more often than not, finding them.
Of course, I would be remiss if I didn't remind you to observe proper safety protocol. Wear protective glasses at all times, and treat the nailer as you would a real gun (meaning, look before you shoot). Over 37,000 people visit the ER every year because of nail guns, so don't let yourself become a statistic.
Now that that's out of the way, I feel compelled to encourage you to use your nail gun as often as possible. You'll be amazed at all the uses you'll find for it, as it can make almost any woodworking job easier.
If you need to screw pieces of wood together, zipping a nail in there to hold them together makes the job much easier (and makes you less likely to stab yourself with a drill). Also, a discreet nail or two can hold pieces together while you're waiting for glue to dry.
They're also fantastic for nailing down hard-to-reach places, especially if you have a bump trigger. They can extend your reach by a foot or so, allowing you to fasten things down without constantly having to move your ladder or reposition your board.
Once you've got a finish nailer in your toolbox, you'll find yourself looking for reasons to use it — and more often than not, finding them. It's a great piece of equipment, and a must-have for any woodworker.
Statistics and Editorial Log