One of the biggest culprits of uneven and unprofessional-looking finishes is using the wrong finishing nailers. Angled and straight-finish nailers may look similar, but their differences can make or break your project.
We don’t want to waste your hard work, so our pro carpenters will compare the critical differences between angled vs. straight-finish nailers to make the best choice for your next project.
About Angled Finish Nailers
This type of nail gun, designed with a magazine that is angled, requires nails, which may be adjustable depending on the specific nailer model.
There are two types: FN (Finish Nail) and DA. FN nails have 25 degrees angle, while DA nails have a 34 degrees angle.
Pros and Cons
About Straight Finish Nailers
A finish nailer uses a straight magazine and a 16-gauge nail. A straight-finish nailer is also a useful tool, with its magazine running parallel to the handle and forming a right angle with the barrel.
This results in a more box-shaped appearance compared to the angled finish nailer.
Pros and Cons
Differences Between Straight and Angled Finish Nailers
A straight-finish nailer appears as a small size nail gun, with a magazine positioned at a 90 degrees angle to the tool.
In contrast, an angled finish nailer features an angled magazine, which gives it distinct advantages over a straight finish nailer.
Size and Weight
Angled finish nailers are generally more compact and lighter compared to straight finish nails, which are slightly larger and heavier. Angled nail guns are constructed with lighter materials that contribute to their reduced weight.
Consequently, using an angled finish nailer is more convenient and less tiring on job sites, perfect for any tight space, while the straight finish nailer may cause fatigue due to its weight difference.
Ease of Use
Using an angled finish nailer is more user-friendly compared to straight nailer nails. When using a straight-finish nailer, you must constantly adjust your body angle and hold the tool in a specific way to drive nails into tight spaces and to insert a nail perfectly straight.
While inserting nails using an angled finish nailer, you just need to hold the nail gun at a comfortable slight angle and press it down.
Nail Size and Nail Head Shape
Angled-finish nailers use thinner nails, like 15-gauge nails, for larger materials, while straight-finish nailers use smaller 16-gauge nails or small nails for thin and fragile materials.
In terms of head shape, regular finishing nailers have rectangular heads, while angled finishing nailers have rounded heads, but this is a minor difference that does not have a significant impact.
Reaching Tight Areas and Corners
An angled finish nailer is better than a straight one for accessing tight spaces. This is because the nail gun magazine of the angled nailer is also angled nails, which allows it to reach tight areas without any obstructions.
However, a straight-finish nailer features a magazine for straight nails and a shorter nose, posing limitations when it comes to accessing tight or confined spaces.
This characteristic of the straight-finish nailer can present challenges when undertaking certain tasks that require reaching narrow or hard-to-reach areas.
Uses and Versatility
An angled finish nailer is generally more versatile than a straight finish nailer, as it can be utilized for finishing tasks as well as for constructing cabinetry or furniture.
In contrast, a straight-finish nailer is limited to finishing work and thin materials only. Therefore, if you require a tool that can perform various functions, an angled finish nailer would probably be a more suitable option than a straight nailer.
Trim and Baseboard
Angled nailer is especially useful for attaching baseboards  to walls or even trim and crown molding because they can access tight spaces and corners more easily than straight-finish nailers.
Angled-finish nailer is usually more expensive than straight nailer because of their added features and versatility. Similarly, a 15-nail gauge is more costly than a 16-gauge nail due to its increased functionality.
Which Nailer Should I Utilize?
Deciding which finish nailer to use depends on the specific needs of your construction project.
If you are doing only finishing work around the home, we suggest using a straight nailer. Straight-finish nailer is generally more affordable and is easier to handle for extended periods compared to angled ones.
However, if you plan to do more versatile projects like cabinet or furniture building, then an angled finish nailer would be a great tool.
The angled design of this nailer allows for access to tight spaces and cramped corners that straight-finish nailers cannot reach.
Will I be able to use straight nails on angled nailers?
You will not be able to use straight nails on angled nailers. An angled finish nailer is designed to accept angled nails, usually ranging from 30 to 34 degrees, depending on the model. Straight nails, however, have no angle and are designed for use with straight nailers.
While both angled and straight finish nailers serve a similar purpose in finishing work, they have distinct differences that make them suitable for different projects.
When selecting between a straight vs. angled finish nailer, we suggest considering the abovementioned factors in order to choose the best tool for the job at hand.
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