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Thread: 15g or 16g gauge nailer for cabinet work

  1. #1
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    Mar 2010
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    15g or 16g gauge nailer for cabinet work

    My wife and I are planning on building several cabinets and built-ins for bedrooms, kitchen, garage and the basement. I would prefer to just buy one and not both unless there is a massive compelling reason to do so. Thus, I would prefer to buy the best tool I can afford that will make my work easier and has the best build quality. I do not have a budget allocated but would like to stay under $300 which should be more than ample for any of the 15/16g on the market. And, if I can spend 90 bucks for a quality nailer I am sold; I am not brand loyal.

    Aside from the fact that the 15g is usually at an angle and a slightly thicker gauge nail are there any other major differences that I should take into account?

    I have a Grex 635 which has been a rock solid tool for the last two years. I do not see any good Amazon reviews for the Grex 15g and 16g nailers; are they of equal quality at the 635 and 650 pinners?

    What brand do you have that you would recommend and which are the ones to absolutely avoid?

    Thanks
    My friend Fred taught me that relationships are like fine tool makers, what you pay is but a small part, what matters most is the time, passion, and care that was spent and the joy that you have.

  2. #2
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    Neither. I can't think of a single thing in my kitchen I used a 16ga nailer for. Used my framing nailer for some framing, used the 18ga nailer to install toekicks and blocking for crown, and used the pinner and glue to install the crown. No nails anywhere in the cabinets themselves. 16ga nailer has been used for (re)installing baseboard in various rooms and that's really it.


  3. #3
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    I agree with Matt. I've never (yet) found a need for either of those guns in cabinet work. I use an 18 gage brad nailer when needed, which is not very often. I use a 23 gage pin nailer for attaching glued on moldings. And I use an 18 gage narrow crown stapler to attach cabinet backs - the ones I don't screw on. If I did a lot of door, baseboard, etc. trim work I would get a 16 gage nailer, mostly because it's the smallest size gun that uses a 2-1/2" nail.

    The nails on a 15 gage gun have a semi circular shaped head on them, whereas brad nailers only have a little flair at the head. The 15 gage have more holding power but, of course, they leave a much larger divot, too. A 15 gage gun is a lot more massive than a 16 gage brad nailer, and the nails cost substantially more and I don't think you can even buy small quantities of them.

    John

  4. #4
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    I POSITIVLY LOVE my Bostich 15ga angled nailer.

    The nails are allot more expensive than the straight 16ga nails though.
    I use it as my go to gun for case assembly and trim carpentry.

    If your building case work with dado joints and you just need to pin it till it dries, get a 16ga or 18


    The 15ga nailer is handy but never "truly" needed for cabinet construction.
    If your doing detailed trim work, get a pin nailer that shoots up to 2".
    If your building utility grade units, a 16ga will bang it out just fine. Passloads are hard to beat in the 16ga market.
    Husband to 1, father to 8
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  5. #5
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    Here's another agreeing with Matt.........NONE. Maybe a 18ga brad gun or narrow crown stapler for production cabinets.

    A lot of people bought the Grex P6xx series 23ga pinners and then made the mistake of buying another Grex product. Grex doesn't make any guns and only buys guns from the actual manufacturers and has some of the work done to their specs, like color. Grex finally had the same company, VIM International, that made the P6xx pinners make a 18ga gun, which is the 18GB. I assume it is OK also. Pretty much negative reviews on all the other Grex guns.

    18ga is big for cabinets, probably the only one you MIGHT have any use for. Straight 16ga is huge but is actually still a brad even though called a nail. 15ga angled IS a nail and is used for holding door and windows into framing. Can't imagine what you would use that for in a cabinet.

    If you must buy something, how about a Kreg Pocket Hole kit?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2009
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    I wouldn't be without my 16 ga. nail gun for assembling cabinets and or fine furniture. As long as you can hide it what does it matter? It sure is cheaper and faster than some other methods of assembling cabinets and yields the same strong results.

    For assembling raised panel doors I'll use my 18 ga. nail gun with 5/8" brads. Clamp the door up and shoot two in each corner on the back side and release the clamps.

  7. #7
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    I think what I would do is get a nice 18ga brad gun, one that will shoot up to 2 1/4" brads. PC makes a pretty good one, paslode, bostitch, senco, are all good brands. This will be your work horse used 90% of the time. For the occasional heavier duty need like attaching baseboard or anchor plates etc., a cheap 16ga gun will work fine. Grizzly sells these, or even Harbor Freight. I have a Grizzly 16ga nailer that works fine for the occasional use it gets. You should be able to get both guns for around or maybe a bit less that the $300 you mentioned. Another option on the 16ga gun would be a used one. These show up all the time on CL and ebay.
    Larry J Browning
    There are 10 kinds of people in this world; Those who understand binary and those who don't.

  8. #8
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    I'm in the 18 gauge is plenty big enough camp for cabinet building. Actually I use the straight 18 g for trim work (or, my favorite, the headless micro pinner) and then 18 g crown staples for plywood boxes - 1-1/4" & 1-1/2" . These are great for attaching 1/2" back to 3/4" sides or for holding the sides to the horizontals until I can drive in screws. I don't go crazy with the crowns as I prefer building boxes with screws but the crown stapler is a good tool in the cabinet shop from my experience. Try taking a plywood box apart that you have stapled together. Never can imagine needing a 16g or 15g nailer.
    Sam

    ~ Hard to take a guy who looks like this seriously but his 2 is worth all of that ~

  9. #9
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    An 18 ga. nailer seems to be a common recommendation. Just keep in mind, nailers that can shoot 2+ inch brads are larger and may not fit in tight areas like the small nailers. A good reason to own both. That's what I tell my wife.

    John

  10. #10
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    Like you I have a Grex pinner and love it. I also have three Bostich guns. A crown staple gun and two brad guns (small and large). I have never had problems with any of them.
    Best Regards,

    Gordon

  11. #11
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    I have and use both a 15 and 16 ga.
    I also have a few 18 ga that shoot both brads and staples and a 23 ga pin nailer.

    Plus, a framing nailer and a palm nailer - for those pesky fasteners that aren't pneumatic friendly (like ring shank nails).

    I'd love to be able to list the times/places I've used them all, but, I honestly don't keep track.
    try to remember that the very first step in finishing a project is choosing the material. You want to select wood that has the color and grain pattern than best suits your requirements as "covering up" those things after the fact makes your work much, much harder - Jim Becker

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Matt Meiser View Post
    Neither. I can't think of a single thing in my kitchen I used a 16ga nailer for. Used my framing nailer for some framing, used the 18ga nailer to install toekicks and blocking for crown, and used the pinner and glue to install the crown. No nails anywhere in the cabinets themselves. 16ga nailer has been used for (re)installing baseboard in various rooms and that's really it.

    I agree completely. Despite the way Norm did it, I have no use for nails in my cabinets and furniture. I prefer glue and where necessary screws instead of filling in and sanding all the nails holes, which if you notice, never made the air on New Yankee Workshop.
    Lee Schierer - McKean, PA

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  13. #13
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    Nails for carpenters, clamps for cabinet makers. Nails are not clamps. Screws are almost clamps, close enough to fool the wood in most cases. For me building cabinets involves mostly clamps and glue, some screws as clamps in plywood, pocket screws, but few nails. I find the pin nailer handy for small moldings, beads, etc. Occasionally an 18 ga brad is handy to tack a slippery assembly long enough to get the clamps on. Nails have shear strength, but offer little real clamping pressure, I've found I can break most nailed and glued joints with a little force. I work in a cabinet shop, we don't even have either a 15ga or 16 ga gun except for crown installs. So maybe get one for crown moldings and door casings? I own pc and bostich, have used senco and hitachi, all work fine. I have a crown stapler and find it occasionally very handy for a variety of wood working tasks but it sees little use for kitchen cabinet work if any.

  14. #14
    My go to guns are 1/4" crown stapler, 18 ga brad nailler, and 16 ga Senco SKS. I have three of the Senco's, with different length nails in each. After 20 years of commercial use, two of the Senco's are ready for a rebuild.

  15. #15
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    [QUOTE= instead of filling in and sanding all the nails holes, which if you notice, never made the air on New Yankee Workshop.[/QUOTE]

    And I thought they magically disappeared, making him the master!

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