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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
The trim guy that I have used for the last couple of years is going to work full time for a commercial outfit. He was the best I've used over the years and I sure hate to lose him. On the other hand, I'm moving back into building smaller "first-time homebuyer" type houses with less intricate trimwork. I'm going to use this as an opportunity to get back into doing the trim myself. I did a few of the first houses I built and did quite a bit of work for a guy building some duplexes a few years back. I've always enjoyed trimwork more than any of the other tasks in building, but it got to the point it wasn't as economical for me to do it myself. The trim in the houses kept getting fancier and I was just plain too slow. I'm more or less self-taught other than the tips and tricks I've picked up from others over the years.

I was thinking earlier today that I've never really learned the correct applications for the particular size nailers. I've always used a PC 16 gauge straight nailer because that's what I had. Right or wrong, I use this gun for most everything I attach to the wall. I have a cheap brad gun that I've used on occasion when I just needed to tack something in place or was afraid of splitting it. When do you use the brad gun over the regular finish gun, or vice versa? Also, when is a 15g gun better over a 16g? (and vice versa again)

I know this is a very elementary question, and might make it seem like I have no business doing any of the work myself. That's not the case, though. I am very dilligent about my work and take pride in what I do. I've never had a painter come behind me and complain about what I've done. More than anything, I'm using this as an opportunity to get back to doing something that I enjoy.

Thanks
 

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I don't know what do you plan on nailing however if I was to outfit myself with trim guns. I would have a 15/16g nailer , 18g ,23g and some type of small crown stapler. The 15g to nail up jambs and other stuff that needs a thicker nail. The 18g to case and base. 23g for when you want to nail something indiscriminately till the glue sets up. I don't know why you would need a stapler I have only need to use on once. And that was for building a custom lattice for a fence job.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Forgot to mention what I would be doing. Crown, baseboard and shoe mold. These houses won't have any of the fancier molding and fireplace mantels that I've put in other houses in the past.

I've always used the 16 for crown and base. Usually for the shoe mold as well, but I've had problems with splitting it. Just wondering if there's a better way to be doing it. The brad nailer I have is old and cheap, so it doesn't get much use. I have never used a 23 gauge before, but I see where it would be handy to keep corners from seperating.

The only thing I have used a stapler for is putting carpet in boat decks. Never have seen where it would be much use in any trim application.
 

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Personally I don't like using a 16g on trim. The nails leave nasty holes. Oh yeah I forget we had to build cabinet bases for some cabinet boxes. Used a wide crown stapler for that one. There a few applications where I would want to use a stapler over a nailer.
 

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Grand Rapids Remodeling
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I agree with most everything said. I use a 18g for most all trim. The staples come in handy when they don't show and you need strength. I once put up a temporary tarp enclosure for a winter addition. used 1 x 2's to hold down the tarps, some of the 1x2's I just used 16g nails and some I used staples ( whatever I happened to have) Those damn staples were a pain to get back apart the held so good the 1x2's cracked and broke before they came loose. The nails came off like nothing. If I have to make my own door jambs I use staples.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks for the replies.

I can see where the 18 gauge would be better for the casings and baseboard. It holds crown fine, as well?

Where would you use a 15 gauge? Is the 15 worth having if you already have a 16?
 

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Thanks for the replies.

I can see where the 18 gauge would be better for the casings and baseboard. It holds crown fine, as well?

Where would you use a 15 gauge? Is the 15 worth having if you already have a 16?
I was thinking 15 and 16 guage were similar. I did some looking around. It seems the 16 and 18 are pretty much the same a brad nailer. Which the 16g would work fine for base, case, and crown. I imagine

I don't think I have ever used a 16g that I remember anyway. Just 15g, 18g and 23g. I use 15g finish nails for setting interior jambs.
 

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I've always used the 16 for crown and base. Usually for the shoe mold as well, but I've had problems with splitting it.
The 16ga too big for shoe, but as far as problems with splitting pay attention to the direction of the chisel point on the nails and orientate the gun so the chisel cuts through the grain (perpendicular) instead of splitting it.
That habit will save you grief.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
The 16ga too big for shoe, but as far as problems with splitting pay attention to the direction of the chisel point on the nails and orientate the gun so the chisel cuts through the grain (perpendicular) instead of splitting it.
That habit will save you grief.
That makes sense. I always just chalked it up to being too big of a nail or nailing too close to the end. Seems I'm always turning the gun a different direction on the last nail to get the gun to fit closer.

All of the replies have been every helpful. Keep them coming!
 

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KemoSabe
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I do alot of Azek on exterior trim and the 16 is nice for fascias, casing, corners and other 1x trim components. I use the 18 to crossnail fascia returns and other mitered joints. As soon as I find stainless pins, my 23 will get used to attach panel moldings and overlays. On interiors, the 23 is nice for prefinished moldings on cabinetry and such. 18 gets used for shoe, setting doorstops, attaching casing to jambs, etc. 16 gets used for most standing trim, cornices and crown. I always used my 16 to hang doors, then place screws behind the hinge leafs and stop to support the weight hanging on the jamb. I just got a 15, but haven't found an opportunity to use it yet.:thumbsup:
 
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Finish Carpenter
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I use my 18 awg gun where ever I can get away with it...smaller holes are great. The most i used my 16 awg gun for is nailing up some crown...I can use the 2 1/2" nails to reach back and catch the top plates, holds like a mother. On 3-4" crown it only gets one nail every 16"...
 

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I use the 15g for interior doors, large base/crown and window wraps. 18g for small base/casing. 23g for small applied mouldings.
 

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I learned this week that you can hang doors with pole barn spikes and gutter spikes. I placed one of the 15 ga. nails I use in the photo for comparison. I guess I'm a lightweight compared to some carpenters.:blink:
That picture must have been taken in Texas.

Them there are Texas nails. Everything is bigger in the Lone star state.:notworthy
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Thanks everyone. I figured there was a better way to do it than I was, just had to take the time to ask.

I've seen the spikes holding doors up more times than I care to remember. When I was in school, I did some work for a guy that bought older houses to fix up and flip. Most had been "remodeled" at least once before. It's always fun when you have to sawzall out an old door because the nails used are too heavy to pull.
 

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You'll get a feel for it

I usually use 2 and a half inch 18 gauge nails to install doors, crown, and base. If you nail into the meatier part of the wood, at least a half inch away from the edge or edge of design, you shouldn't get too much splitting. If you hit the top or bottom plate, or the stud, 18 gauge will hold strong. Though I don't usually use a regular nailer for the small edge of casing that gets nailed to the jamb; for this I use either a pin (baby) brad nailer, or a small crown nailer.

I never or rarely use anything bigger than a pin or baby nailer to install shoe, toekick, cabinet crown, or any other fine small piece of trim. I also use a pin nailer to secure outside corners of moldings including base, crown, and small pieces of base.

I glue all outside corner joints (except stain grade wood).

A small crown stapler comes in handy for odd jobs, like for instance, a thin piece of wood a regular nailer would just shoot the nails through or a stubborn piece of casing that won't hold with a pin nail.

I have a porter cable angle finish nailer that uses the bigger size nails, but I rarely use it unless the other guns need service; I've never really thought of it till now, but I guess it's because the gun is heavier, and the nails cost more.
 

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I learned this week that you can hang doors with pole barn spikes and gutter spikes. I placed one of the 15 ga. nails I use in the photo for comparison. I guess I'm a lightweight compared to some carpenters.:blink:
Hey bass, I bet you had a good laugh. I've seen cabinets installed with 16p nails. :eek:
 
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