How Many Different Trim Nailers Do I Really Need?
It seems there's always one more must-have tool.
I’m fairly new to trim carpentry and the plethora of nail gauges is really confusing. Just how many different nail guns do I need to own?
—Josh Newman via e-mail
Carpenter and woodworking teacher Gary Striegler replies: The longer I’m a carpenter, the more nail guns and gauges I find myself using. I use 15-ga., 18-ga., a few 21-ga., and lots of 23-ga. nails. If I could only buy only one nailer, it would be an 18-ga. You can nail base and casing with 2-in., 18-ga. nails if needed, and they are small enough for a lot of delicate work. Plus, an 18-ga. nail leaves a fairly small hole.
I use a 15-ga. nailer for hanging doors, installing crown and base, and nailing the outside edge of casing. It would be the second tool I would buy. I find the extra length of 2-1/2-in., 15-ga. nails especially helpful for reaching the framing or blocking on the top edge of crown.
Having said all that, nothing changed the way I work like my 23-ga. pinner. For wood-to-wood finish applications, 1-3/8-in. headless pins are plenty strong. They never split even the smallest pieces and the tiny hole is really easy to fill. I use the 21-ga. tool at times for things like building drawer boxes because it offers a little more strength and holding power than 23-ga. pins, while still leaving a tiny hole.
So, I guess the answer to how many nail guns you need is N+1, where N is the number of nail guns you already own.
From Fine Homebuilding #296