Buying Guide: Nail Guns

Nail guns are extremely popular power tools used in construction for driving many nails into various materials quickly and consistently. These tools are essential for a variety of wood and metal work, and no tradesman’s tool box is complete without one! While it can definitely be a considerable investment, they’re the best way to reduce your construction time while creating a high-quality end product.

At Toolden we offer a wide range of affordable, professional pneumatic and electric nail guns to suit any job. But before we explore these, it’s important to understand the different type of nail guns and how they work.

1st Fix vs 2nd Fix

There are two main types of nail guns – 1st fix and 2nd fix. Both types of nail guns are fairly similar in their appearance, but they are designed for very different jobs and using the wrong type could cause major problems for your job.

1st Fix

1st fix nail guns, also known as framing nailers, are used to complete the rough woodwork and construction work like framing, flooring, roofing, and generally anything else that is used as a frame for something else.

These nailers use larger, more bulky nails that will often leave a mark on the material – however this generally isn’t an issue as it is intended for use on areas that aren’t typically visible once the project is completed.

2nd Fix

2nd fix nail guns, also known as finishing nailers, are used later on in the project for any lighter work such as door frames, skirting boards, and woodwork finishing.

These nailers use much smaller nails that make only the smallest impression on a surface, making it perfect for finishing delicate work that requires a clean finish. 2nd fix nails also cause less splitting in the wood which helps give it a more refined look.

DeWalt DCN660N-XJ 18V

Brushless Second Fix

Nail Gun

DeWalt DCN692M2 18V

Brushless First Fix

Nail Gun

How do nail guns work?

Nail guns have two primary tasks to complete with every nail driven – the firing of the nail itself, and the loading of the next one. Once the trigger is pulled on the nail gun, it will power a piston down onto a blade mechanism which then fires the nail into the surface with the relevant amount of force. After this nail is fired, a new nail is loaded from a magazine using a spring, which pushes the bottom of the magazine up after each shot.

The main mechanical difference between nail gun types is the source of the force used to propel the pistol, and consequently the nail. This source of power will either be electric, pneumatic, or combustion based.

Features to consider when buying a nail gun

Your choice of nail gun will largely depend on your requirements for the job at hand. If you’re doing fencing and larger projects then you’ll want to look for heavy-duty framing nailers that use longer, thicker, lower-gauge nails. If you’re working on furniture or delicate interior jobs however, you should consider a high-gauge brad nailer or finishing nailer.

Before purchasing any nail gun however, here are some key factors you should take into consideration:

Power Type

One of the first, and indeed most important factors to consider when selecting a nail gun is how the gun will be powered.

Firing Method

When shopping for a new nail gun, pay attention to the firing method. Doing this will help ensure you have the most efficient tool for your projects, and help avoid accidental misfires.

Nail Gauge

Perhaps one of the most influential factors when choosing a nail gun is the type of nails it can use.

Nail gauge translates to the thickness of the nail, so when referring to nail gauge a higher gauge number means a thinner nail, while a lower gauge number means a thicker nail.

The most common nail gauge options are:

Now let’s get into the different types of nail guns, and our top picks!

Straight or angled?

Another distinction between some nail guns is whether it is straight, or angled. But what are angled nail guns?

Essentially angled nailers are nail guns that come with magazines that are angled. The magazine is attached to the base of the machine and then angled towards your arm, making it quite distinct in appearance compared to the straight nailer.

This angled design prevents the front of the tool from hitting the work surface and allows for the user to fire nails into much tighter spaces, or much closer to the floor which would essentially be impossible with a straight nailer.

Types of Nail Guns

Brad Nailer

Our PickMakita DBN600ZJ 18V Second Fix Nail Gun

Brad nailers are a great all-rounder nail gun, often being the nailer of choice for contractors. While they can be used for finishing, they’re compatible with larger 18-gauge and 16-gauge nails so they can be used for jobs like baseboards, door and window trim work, and crown molding.

Finishing Nailers

Our PickMilwaukee M18 FN18GS-0X 18V Fuel Straight Second Fix Nail Gun

Finishing nailers are some of the lightest nail guns and use long thin nails for delicate work like assembling furniture and cabinets, finishing, trimming, and molding work.

Pin Nailers

Our PickMakita DPT353Z LXT 18V Pin Nailer

Pin nailers are the smallest and most delicate of all nail guns. They shoot small and thin 23-gauge headless nails that look like pins (hence the name!), that offer very little holding power. Due to this, pin nailers are typically used for temporarily holding something in place while the wood glue dries.

Flooring Nailers

Our PickDeWalt DCN682N XR 18V Brushless Flooring Stapler

A flooring nailer is unlike any other nailer in that it drives nails at a 90° angle from the base. These nailers have a single purpose, which is to drive nails at a 45° angle into hardwood or softwood floorboards. 


How to use a nail gun safely


At Toolden we offer a wide range of nail guns including first & second fix, straight & angled, and corded & cordless. 

Find the right nail gun for the job on our website here.

With free delivery for all orders over £50, and interest free finance options available.