The Top 5 Best Pin Nailers to Boost Your Woodworking

Pin nailers are a must-have tool for any carpentry and woodworking projects. Especially small projects requiring precision and expertise. whether it’s a cabinet, a table, or any other piece of wooden furniture.

We’ve rounded up a list of our top five choices for the best pin nailers and created a guide to help you make an informed decision.. These are the nailers we’ll be taking a look at in this article:

Top Pick: DEWALT 23-Gauge Pin Nailer (DWFP2350K)

Best for Pros: SENCO 8L0001N 23-Gauge 2 in. Headless Pinner

Metabo HPT NP35A 23-Gauge Micro Pin Nailer

Makita AF353 23 Gauge, 1-3/8″ Pin Nailer

PORTER-CABLE 23-Gauge, 1-3/8-Inch Pin Nailer (PIN138)

Buyer’s Guide to Pin Nailers

Before we look at those options, what exactly is a pin nailer? Pin nailers are hand-held tools that nail in pins challenging to nail in by hand. That is convenient since it can be a struggle to hold such nails steady with your hand. Don’t agree with me? Either you have small hands or an insane level of skill!

What are Pin Nailers used for?

Pin nailers use extremely small nails, such as gauge 23 headless variety and nails of 1-2 inches in length. With pin nailers, you don’t have to worry about missing a nail or struggling with inserting it at the right angle. Whether it’s molding, trim, or any small panel of wood, a pin nailer can do the job in seconds without splintering or damaging the wood.

Some jobs that 23-gauge pin nailers excel at are pre-finished trims and moldings. For pieces and jobs this precise 18-gauge brads are too wide and can cause splitting. But 23-gauge pin nailers will do a neat and near traceless job. But be ready with some adhesive on hand just in case you need to supplement the connection.

Pin nailers aren’t just useful for precision nailing, they’re also helpful in general carpentry work. With a quick shot from a pin nailer pins can be used for clamping pieces of wood together. When clamps and large wooden chunks become challenging to wrestle with, a quick snap of a pin nailer is the way to go.

Choosing the Best Pin Nailer

As with most woodworking tools choosing the best pin nailer comes down to what features you need. A reliable yet straightforward pin nailer could be enough, while others might want a few more features for convenience. So, let’s go over some crucial aspects to look for in a pin nailer.

Types of Pin Nailers

There are two main types of pin nailers: a pneumatic pin nailer and cordless pin nailers. Simply put, electronic pin nailers operate using a battery, while pneumatic pin nailers use air compressors.

Pneumatic pin nailers are typically more heavy-duty and can work with thicker and harder woods. The air compressor and hose mean they aren’t very portable though. Electronic pin nailers are more mobile and compact but don’t do well with heavy and large wooden pieces.

The third type of pin nailer, which isn’t as common, is a fuel-driven pin nailer. Although portable and powerful they tend to be pricey and need refueling. This makes them a less popular choice for anyone but contractors.

Gauge Sizes

So, this is where it gets a little more complicated, but if you work in carpentry already, it should be a breeze. If not then you should know that the gauge of a nail refers to it’s width, and that higher gauge nails or fasteners are thinner. There are three main gauge sizes to pay attention to; the 18-gauge, 21-gauge, and 23-gauge.

An 18-gauge pin nailer is usually referred to as a Brad nailer, and our top 5 pin nailers, as you’ll see, are all 23-gauge. Still, it’s good to know there are more options for your needs. Picking the right pin nailer will make finishing, trimming, and touch-ups a breeze.

The 5 Top Pin Nailers of 2021

DEWALT 23 GA Pin Nailer (DWFP2350K)

Not every pin nailer can handle 2” headless pin nails, but the DEWALT 23-gauge pin nailer handles them like a pro. A pneumatic tool it shoots pin nails smoothly and efficiently to fasten your woodwork and improve your trim and finish jobs. This reliable nailer is fantastic choice for professional woodworkers, carpenters, and contractors. Even beginner hobbyists looking for a convenient and secure way to finish will find it easy to use.

A convenient feature that the DEWALT pin nailer has is its tool-free jam release mechanism. It makes nail removal all the easier in case of jams. This pin nailer also makes use of an oil-free operation, reducing stains and required clean-ups. We think beginners will also be happy to have the included depth adjustment mechanism to nail into different surfaces.

Specifications

Operating Pressure70-100 PSI
Nail Length Capacity5/8″ – 2″
Magazine Capacity135 Pins
Weight2.5 lbs
Dimensions‎12.8″ x 11.7″

Pros

  • Easy and comfortable size to hold
  • Easily nails in 23-gauge 2” pin nails into hardwood surfaces
  • It comes with jam release and depth adjustment mechanisms
  • Operates free of oil for easier clean-up
  • Includes safety feature to prevent misfiring
  • Comes with carrying case, manual, 1/4” fitting, and two no-mar tips

Cons

  • The tool-free jam clearance system gives this pin nailer a larger nose makes it more awkward to use in tight spaces.

SENCO 8L0001N 23-Gauge 2 in. Headless Pinner

The SENCO 23-LXP is an impressive pinner built for professional use. Senco boasts that this pneumatic pin nailer is the most powerful tool in its class and judging by how it handles 2” pins they aren’t lying.

The design of the SENCO 8L0001N prioritizes the needs of the user. The handle is angled to better adjust to its usage. It utilizes a narrow and sturdy nose to better fit into tight spots by holding the pin nailer flush to the surface. This pin nailer is SENCO’s most powerful pin nailer and has been touted by many carpenters and crafters for its ease of use.

Specifications

Operating Pressure70 – 110 PSI
Nail Length Capacity1/2″ – 2″
Magazine Capacity100 Pins
Weight 2.7 lbs
Dimensions 7 7/8″ L x  8 7/8″ H 

Pros

  • Ergonomic handle and design for easier use
  • Built-in lockout to prevent dry firing
  • Automatically adjusts to different pin lengths
  • Remarkable narrow nose tip for easier nail firing
  • Excellent for finishing and trim work
  • Little to no holes made, does not require filler
  • Covered by a 5-year warranty

Cons

  • Built with professionals in mind this is the priciest model on our list
  • No depth adjustment feature
  • The No mar tip can come loose during use.

Metabo NP35A 23-Gauge Micro Pin Nailer

The NP35A from Metabo is a precise and accurate pin nailer that ensures the seamless insertion of 23-gauge pins. Anyone familiar with Hitachi power tools will know that they are of excellent quality. This pin nailer is ideal for assembling picture frames, and finessing cabinets, paneling, trims, and moldings.

Any high-quality headless 23-gauge pin nail with a length of 5/8” to 1-3/8” will work smoothly with the NP35A. Although instances of nail jams have been noticed, it is due to the quality of the pin nail and not of the pin nailer. To avoid such cases, Metabo recommends customers and users only use Metabo HPT pins with the NP35A. Available and appropriate sizes include the 5/8 “, 3/4”, 1”, 1 3/16”, and 1 3/8” lengths.

Specifications

Operating Pressure65-100 PSI
Nail Length Capacity5/8″ – 1-3/8″
Magazine Capacity100 Pins
Weight2.0 lbs
Dimensions9-3/8″ L x 6-3/8″ H

Pros

  • Lightweight and maneuverable
  • Excellent at precise nailing for paneling, cabinets, picture frames, trim, and moldings
  • Dual trigger mechanism for accurate placement of fasteners
  • Depth adjustment makes for flush drives every time.
  • Covered by a 5-year warranty from Metabo HPT
  • Comes a carrying case and accessories including a hex bar wrench and two extra no-mar tips

Cons

  • Using the depth adjustments requires using the included Allen wrench.

Makita AF353 23 Gauge, 1-3/8″ Pin Nailer

A compact and lightweight nailer, the Makita AF353 is another of the best pin nailers around. This is a nailer engineered for all-day professional use that fires pins with great finesse. Weighing in at only 2 lbs. it’s incredibly easy to handle and operate even for extended periods.

Its accurate firing makes it a great choice of nailer for a whole host of woodworking jobs. This nailer is also gentle enough not to handle rattan furniture without splitting or harming the material.

One thing we especially appreciate is how easy it is to load pin nails into the side magazine. Its ergonomic lockout alert indicates any need for pin reloading. The optimized 2-finger trigger also helps as a safety feature, especially to new users.

We also like a clean work area, just like any other woodworker. As a pneumatic pin nailer, the Makita AF353 has a rear-facing exhaust port that keeps exhaust air away from the user and work surface. Its built-in air duster also provides a convenient way to clear your work space.

Specifications

Operating Pressure65 – 100 PSI
Nail Length Capacity5/8″ – 1-3/8″
Magazine Capacity130 Pins
Weight2 lbs
Dimensions8-3/16″ x 7-1/2″

Pros

  • Light, aluminum construction weighing in at 2 lbs.
  • Side-loaded magazine with lockout alert and dry-firing prevention
  • Enhanced features to improve airflow, such as rear exhaust and duster
  • Easily works with 23-gauge headless pins ranging from 5/8” to 1-3/8”
  • Accessories include safety glasses, a hex wrench, a tool case, two no-mar tips, air fitting, and pneumatic nailer oil
  • Covered by Makita 3-year warranty

Cons

  • Unresponsive and unreliable customer service
  • The guns catch on the nail magazine is made of plastic and may break with heavy usage

PORTER-CABLE 23-Gauge, 1-3/8-Inch Pin Nailer (PIN138)

The PIN138 is a superb option for those looking for seamless and invisible pin nail nailing. It’s dry-fire lockout prevents and dry fires or blank fires so it won’t leave any witness marks.

Side-loading and pin nailing insertion is an easy task, too. The PIN138 can accommodate any 23-gauge nail below 1-3/8” and will tell you if it requires reloading. Still, it handles up to 130 pin nails and adjusts to the nail length accordingly.

Porter-Cable also ensured that it won’t interfere with your workspace. It’s built with a rear exhaust and features oil-free operation. No extra particles or moisture will touch your wood while you are working on it. The narrow nose also brings in extra convenience for tight insertion. Overall, we think this pin nailer has it all for anyone looking for some clean work.

Specifications

Operating Pressure60-100 PSI
Nail Length Capacity5/8″ – 1-3/8″
Magazine Capacity130 pins
Weight 2.2 lbs
Dimensions9.5″ L x 7.5″ H

Pros

  • Accommodates 23-gauge pin nails ranging from 5/8” to 1-3/8” in length
  • The motor is easy to work with, maintenance-free, and oil-free
  • Automatic adjustment to different pin nail lengths
  • Includes dry fire lockout and loading alert
  • It comes with 2000 pin nails, a male plug and cap, a carrying case, and a wrench

Cons

  • No depth adjustment setting
  • Have to push the tip hard into the wood to get the nail flush in hardwoods.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between a pin nailer, a brad nailer, and a finish nailer?

The difference lies in the gauge of the nails they use. Pin nailers use 23-gauge nails, while brad nailers use 18-gauge nails, and finish nailers use 15 to 18-gauge nails.

What are pin nailers for?

Pin nailers are power tools that will insert headless pin nails without worrying about witness marks, holes, or wood splitting. They will neatly accomplish woodwork such as trims, moldings, cabinet and picture frame assembly, etc.

How safe are pin nailers?

Most pin nailers come with safety features that prevent blank firing, dry firing, and locks. But generally, with the tips, secure triggers, and depth adjustment features, you are not in danger of hurting yourself so long as you face pin nailers away from anyone.

How to Use a Pin Nailer

Trigger Systems

Pin nails come with different trigger systems that help with safety precautions. Keep in mind that pin nails should never be pointed towards anyone despite such safety features.

Dual trigger systems include a safety switch that must be disengaged before firing. You’ll be able to think twice about firing with this on hand! Metabo usually employs this type of trigger. Another type is the sequential firing trigger. That requires pressure at the tip to fire, meaning that you cannot release a nail unless the tool is pressed against a surface.

These trigger systems are made for everyone’s safety, but pin nailers should not be tampered with carelessly otherwise. You wouldn’t want any injuries from your workshop!

Conclusion

Pin nailers are convenient and valuable — it’s hard to imagine inserting 23-gauge headless nails without them. The top five best pin nailer models that we recommended all excel in ease of use, included features, and their overall efficiency as tools. We hope that, even if you’re a beginner, you’ll be able to find a pin nailer that suits your needs and wood workshop.

Share on twitter
Share on pinterest