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The Ultimate Guide: Perfect Nail Gun Size For Building Cabinets

When it comes to cabinet making, having the right tools is essential to achieve a professional finish. A nailer plays an important role in cabinet construction. Perfect nail gun size is very useful for building cabinets. Most of the time 16 to 23 gauge nails are the best size for making cabinets. These gauges offer a mix between strength and low nail hole visibility. How long the nails are will depend on how thick the materials are that you are using. Basically, the sizes of nail are used for cabinet construction are:

  1. 18 gauge Brad nail gun
  2. 16 gauge finish nail gun
  3. 23 gauge pin nail gun

However, choosing the perfect nail gun size can be daunting, considering the variety of options available.

This ultimate guide will explore the different nail gun sizes suitable for cabinet making. Also, provide tips to help you make an informed decision. I hope you can make a suitable decision after this article.

Nail sizes for cabinet construction

Before diving into the details of nail gun sizing, it’s important to understand the basics of nail sizing. In the case of nail guns, gauge refers to the thickness or diameter of the nail. The lower the gauge number, the thicker the nail.

For cabinet making, three common nail gun sizes are often recommended:

18 gauge Brad nail gun

18 gauge brad nail gun

The 18 gauge Brad nail gun is a versatile option for cabinet construction. It uses 18-gauge thickness nails. That makes it narrower than the 16-gauge or 15-gauge options. These nails provide adequate holding power without the risk of splitting the wood. They are ideal for attaching cabinet face frames, mouldings, and fine-trim work.


  • Thin and with small heads, they are ideal for delicate work.
  • Less likely to split the wood


  • Compared to bigger nails, they are not as strong.

16 gauge finish nail gun

16 gauge finish nail gun

The 16 gauge finish nail gun is slightly thicker than the 18 gauge. They offer increased holding capacity over 18 gauge. It is usually used for heavy cabinet components. For example:

  • Cabinet side
  • Putting the back and drawer slides together.

16-gauge nails balance strength and visibility, leaving small holes that are easy to fill.


  • Slightly larger than 18 gauge nails, but still thin enough for delicate work
  • It provides more holding power than 18-gauge nails


  • Not as small as 18 gauge nails

23 gauge pin nail gun

23 gauge pin nail gun

The 23 gauge pin nail gun is the best option among the three sizes. The nails used with this gun are remarkably thin. This makes the hole virtually invisible. Pin nailers are perfect for delicate cabinetry work. It is perfect for assembling lightweight trims, decorative pieces, and smaller pieces. However, they are unfit for applications requiring load-bearing capacity.


  • The smallest and least powerful of the three
  • It leaves almost no holes behind, which is ideal for projects that will be painted.


  • They are not as strong as larger nails.

Matching Nail Sizes With Cabinet Components

Matching specific nail sizes is important to ensure your cabinets’ structural integrity and longevity. Here is a general guide to selecting the appropriate nail gun size for various cabinet parts:

  • Cabinet Face Frames: 18 gauge Brad nail gun.
  • Cabinet Sides, Backs, and Drawer Slides: 16 gauge finish nail gun
  • Lightweight Trims and Decorative Pieces: 23 gauge pin nail gun
  • Load-Bearing Applications: Consider using a combination of thick nails and glue. Also, you can use mechanical fasteners for extra strength.

You can ensure a beautiful cabinet by selecting each component’s nail size.

Types Of Nail Guns Suitable For Building Cabinets

Now that we have discussed different nail sizes. Let’s explore the types of nail guns commonly used in cabinet construction:

A. Brad Nailers

The Brad nailer is designed to shoot 18-gauge nails. They are lightweight, compact, and thin moldings. They are perfect for attaching trim and delicate cabinet parts. Brad nailers can work easily without damaging the wood too much. They are a well-liked option for experts and DIY enthusiasts alike.

B. Finish nailer

The Finish Nailer is a versatile tool that accepts 15- or 16-gauge nails. They provide more holding capacity than Brad nailers. Finish nailers are commonly used for attaching heavy cabinet components. Finish nailers can handle thicker materials. Also ideal for cabinet sides, backs, drawer slides, and large moldings.

C. Pin Nailer

Pin nailers are designed to drive 23-gauge nails. They are exceptionally thin. They are suitable for delicate cabinetry work requiring minimal nail hole visibility. Pin nailers are basically:

  • light trim
  • Attach decorative pieces
  • Adept at assembling small parts. However, they are not designed to support loads.

D. Staple gun

Staple guns, though not strictly nails. These guns offer an alternative fastening method for certain cabinet applications. They use staples instead of nails. They are commonly used to secure cabinet backs and attach thin panels. Staple guns come in various sizes and are perfect for lightweight cabinet construction.

Tips For Choosing The Perfect Nail Gun Size For Building Cabinets

Tips for Choosing the Perfect Nail Gun Size for Building Cabinets

Choosing the right nail gun size for your cabinet project can significantly affect the final result. Here are some tips to help you make a thoughtful choice:

Consider Cabinet Design

Assess the complexity of the cabinet design based on the size of the nail gun. Then identify the types of ingredients that require fasting. This will help you determine which nail size is appropriate for each job.

Balance Holding Power and Visibility

Choose a nail size that provides adequate binding power for the specific material without leaving big nail holes. It would be best to find a mix of strength and looks to get an expert finish.

Trial and error

If you need to figure out what size nails to use, try them out on scraps of wood or shelves that won’t be seen. This will let you see how much you can hold and how well you can see before deciding on a nail gun size.

Consider expansion and contraction.

With variations in humidity and temperature, wood naturally expands and contracts. To accommodate this movement, choose slightly larger nails. Also, use fasteners that allow for flexibility.

Safety first

Always wear safety glasses when operating a nail gun. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Ensure proper maintenance of the equipment.

Following these tips, you can select the perfect nail gun size for your cabinet project. Also, you can achieve professional results.

FAQs about Nail Guns

Q: Should I Use A Brad Nailer Or A Finish Nailer For Cabinets?

A: Choosing between a brad nailer and a finish nailer depends on the specific cabinet components.

  • Brad nailers are suitable for attaching thin mouldings and delicate trim work.
  • Finish nailers provide greater holding power. They are better suited for heavier cabinet parts.

Q: What Nail Gun Size Do I Need For Woodworking?

A: The size of the nail gun for woodworking depends on the specific woodworking project. For cabinet construction, the sizes of an 18 gauge brad nail gun, a 16 gauge finish nail gun, and a 23 gauge pin nail gun are used.


Choosing the perfect nail gun size for building cabinets is crucial for achieving a professional outcome. By considering the type of cabinet components, you can select the appropriate nail size and gun type. Remember to prioritise safety and conduct tests when in doubt. You’ll be well-equipped to bring your cabinet project to life with the right nail gun.

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