The following are a few frequently asked questions on fastening tools and equipment.

Brad or finish nails?

Brad nails are formed from a fine 18-gauge wire, while finish nails are made from heavier 16- or 15-gauge wire.

Finish nails are the correct choice for fastening larger crown and baseboard trim, brad nails are used to install smaller trim to help prevent splitting and to promote a cleaner looking job with less touch-up work after the nailing is done.

The brad nail also has a smaller head, which may not need to be concealed with carpenter's putty; when a nail is not puttied over, it's called a "shiner." The brad shiner is so small, it can be difficult to notice.

The driven finish nail is almost always puttied over to conceal the shiner because it leaves a more visible hole in the wood surface. Again, for larger and heavier mouldings the finish nail is the correct fastener to use. The finish nail offers more support and withdrawal resistance than the brads, making them a better choice for the bigger trim installation.

Most finish carpenters own and use both tools; a brad nailer for small mouldings, and a finish nailer for larger base or crown mouldings.

Finish nailers: angled or straight?

The angled magazine is popular for its maneuverability into tight places. The straight magazine finish nailers are not as maneuverable, but they do drive a slightly thinner 16-gauge square-head nail, which may mean less wood splitting with smaller moldings. The square-head nail is not as appealing as the true brad-head nail, but it does a cleaner job on MDF moldings because the square-head helps prevent the cratering (puckering), which may occur with the true brad-head nail. The 16 gauge nails tend to cost less than the heavier 15 gauge nails, so there is also some cost savings.

When do I need a block out device?

A block-out device (aka: nail guide assembly) is an assembly of parts that will help prevent jamming problems when driving the shorter sizes of nails. Since jamming occurs more often with the shorter nail sizes, the block-out can be a good preventative measure. It's a good idea to install the block-out when driving a large quantity of the shorter nails.

The block-out simply fills space not occupied by the shorter nails to help prevent the "back-drive" of a nail. Back-drives occur more often with the shorter nail sizes, when the nail tries to drive back toward the magazine track, instead of out the hole at the tip of the guide body (nose) of the tool. With the block-out properly installed, a back-driven nail will be blocked from driving toward the magazine, so it can drive out the hole.

For driving smaller quantities of the shorter nails, a block-out should not be necessary.

Why won’t my nailer drive out all the nails in the magazine?

The tool is designed to "lock-up" with 5 or less nails remaining in the magazine to prevent excessive wear from a "dry fire". The safety element will not travel up far enough to allow the tool to operate until more nails are loaded.

Why does your tool have this feature? When a tool cycles with no nail driven, there is more vibration created by all the unused energy and this vibration can lead to more wear and tear of your tool's internal components. The lock-out feature helps prevent the wear and tear and tells you when it's time to reload.

Source: Senco Brands Inc. For information call 800-543-4596 or visit Senco.com.