Brads Nails v Finish Nails at mytoolkit

Brads and Pins - The Ultimate Guide!

Brad Nails - Finish Nails

Well, following my previous post on staples, which also explains about finishes in both Stainless Steel and Galvanized.  


I’d now like to take you into the fascinating world of ……wait for it………Brads! (and Pins!!) Yes, you can’t believe it can you? You’ve waited all this time and, finally, it’s what you’ve been searching for your whole life, your Holy Grail is here right at your fingertips……….No? Seriously though, there is a lot of confusion around size and gauge of brads and pins and even the regular user of nailing tools still have confusion around nail gauges. So why don’t we take the lid off and give a little clarity to the murky world of brad nails?!


Galvanised and Stainless Steel for times when it becomes a necessity that anti-rust fasteners are vital.

What is a Nail Gauge?

Thicker Nail:

Quite simply the Gauge of a nail refers to its thickness and therefore is a measure of its holding power. 

Quick note – you’ll notice as the gauge number increases, the thickness decreases. Even after all my many years in the industry, it still gets confusing!!!18 Gauge Brads

What is a Brad Nail?

Although there are some debates around the classification of what constitutes as a brad nail. As far as we are concerned (20 years plus in the industry) a brad is either a 21 Gauge or 18 Gauge Nail.

Benefits of Brad Nails

Thanks to a smaller head and diameter, Brad Nails are easier to conceal in small pieces of wood trim.

 Drawbacks of using a Brad Nail  

Brads are made up of a fine 18-or 21 gauge wire. Lesser in diameter than what is known as a finish nail and characteristically has less holding strength.

Brad Nail - Nail Head: 

21 Gauge Brads Starting with the 21 Gauge Brad (0.84mm in diameter) These are sometimes referred to as Micro Brads with a very slight head and again are most suitable for beadings and mouldings. The slight head just gives that extra bit of holding power that a headless pin lacks (more of those at the end). Sizes vary from 15mm – 30mm Take a look at the following video for a visual comparison.

Crown Moulding - Trim Work:

18 Gauge Brads Stepping up the next rung up the ladder, we have the very popular 18 Gauge Brad (1.25mm in diameter) finished with a head. These are found in most joinery workshops and are used in moulding, decorative trim, furniture manufacturing, window beading and much more. Available on our range in 18 Gauge Galvanised Finish Nails and 18 Gauge Stainless Steel Brads.

These 2nd fix 18 Ga brads can be obtained in leg lengths from 10mm to 50mm. Handily if you are not sure and don't want large quantities of each size see the Brad selection pack containing 15mm, 25mm & 30mm an ideal buy for when you have a variety of jobs to tackle.

What are Finishing Nails: 

Nails that come under the Finish Nail category are generally considered to be 15 and 16 gauge. The wire being slightly thicker than brad nails.

Finish Nails - 16 Ga

16 Gauge Brads (Finish Nails)  As aforementioned these fasteners are larger again than brad nails. The popular 16 Gauge Brad is 1.6mm in diameter. Sometimes these fasteners are referred to as a 2nd Fix Finish Nail.

Finishing Nails - 15 Ga

15 Gauge Angled Brads The largest Brads available and are 1.9mm in diameter, these are are the D Head Angled 15 Gauge Brads.

They’re sometimes referred to as a D Head Brad, Inclined Finish Nail or DA Brad. Not as common as the 16 Gauge but has it’s used and is popular for the clean visual finish of the head. Available from 25mm to 64mm.

Benefits of a Finish Nail

With the stronger shank and larger head these finish nails are used for fixing skirting and architraves.

Downside of Using a Finish Nail

Not ideally suited for beading due to the larger head size. But if its a larger head Second Fix 16 Gauge Nailer you need, then we supply various branded  Finish Nailers., Including Stanley Bostitch, Ace & K Tacwise BeA, Paslode, Dewalt, Makita and Senco.

How Nails are Sized 

16 Gauge Finish Nails are available from us in straight or angled (20 Degree) formation with the latter suitable for Dewalt and Paslode Finish nailers. The range of leg length sizes varies from 20mm to 64mm with the angled available from 32mm to 64mm. Finishes in either galvanised or stainless steel. The following video compares 16 Gauge to 18 Gauge.

 A closer look at how 15 Gauge Nails come in as a handy companion to your toolbox.

Got a Pin Gun?

Holding Power:

Headless Pins The finest pins in our range and are 23 Gauge. (0.64mm in diameter) They have (you guessed it!) no head, and are fantastic for beadings and mouldings and because they’re headless, the finish is almost invisible…………. No unsightly wood fill. Sometimes referred to as a Micro Pin. They’re becoming more popular and surprisingly, give a lot of holding power. (although glueing is still advised) It’s currently available on our range in lengths from 12mm – 28mm.

For information - Take a peep at how a 21 Gauge Pin compares to a 23 Gauge Headless Pin


Interesting Thought:

We listen to others!

"As Brad nailers operate thin 18-gauge brads in lengths up to 2” long, they leave a lesser  hole, therefore, less likely to split thin workpiece" (


I hope I haven’t muddied the waters any further and maybe I’ve added some clarity. If as a general rule of thumb, you remember the lower the gauge the finer the brad………Think backwards – something the gaffer says I’m very good at!!

I once read that the gauge is equal to the number of nails per inch which really doesn’t add up (ahem – much like my payslip) but thinking on that line, the more pins to the inch, the finer the pin.

Food for thought maybe?…………Less is sometimes more.  Well, I could continue into the various types of nails for heavier duty nailing, but enough for now. lookout for this majestic piece of information in a future enlightening post. Here’s looking to your next Holy Grail.

Sharing is Caring:

Get '3 Easy Ways to Make Your Airtool Live Longer' A little take away on us!

Meanwhile as and when you need air, electric or gas tool. Staples or Nails then you know where to get your stocks. Here at My Tool Kit. 

If you'd like to stay up to date with the latest deals on our premium brands check out our Newsletter

Work Safety Gloves: 

Dewalt, Paslode and Makita along with Work Safety Gloves (as above) are now available via our Amazon Affiliate program. Which is where you get the best price and we receive a small commission:




Chuck thumbs up


Back to blog

1 comment

Thanks for “Brads and Pins – The Ultimate Explanation”. I enjoyed that. Very clear and concise explanation of the terminology which is “reverse logic” (much like your payslip). Trying to select which tool to invest in (2nd fix/finishing nailer) confused the hell out of me until I viewed your piece, but now I can make an informed decision.
Thanks again.

Paul Irving

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.