16ga or 18ga nails for molding?


I'm looking at buying an air nailer to install some paint grade baseboard, shoe, chair rail and panel molding in my house. I would also like to eventually set up a home shop, so I would like to get something that will grown with me as well. I've been looking at the Porter-Cable 2" 18ga brad nailer and their larger 2-1/2" 16ga finish nailer. Will the 2" 18ga brads have any trouble going through the baseboard into the stud? Do the 2" 18ga nails have any trouble going through hardwoods? At the same time, am I going to have any trouble splitting the shoe molding with a 16ga nail? It seems like the 16ga might be the way to go for future projects, but can you use the 16ga nails for the same basic application that you would normally use the 18ga nails for?
Greg M
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Hi, Greg.
FWIW, I use 15 & 18 ga on stuff around the house. 18 ga is best IMHO for "holding it until the glue dries" (cr Norm Abram), so long as you use 1" or shorter. Longer brads can really get turned into pretzels. For trim you want to attach to framing, I'd suggest 15 ga, not only because of the angle of the nail-pack and the nailer vice that of 16 ga. Like others you may well feel need of both.
HTH, John
Greg M wrote:

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I'll second what the first poster said about 15 and 18 gauge. I have a Senco 15 and 18 gauge nailer.
I'll further say that my 18 gauge nailer has no problem nailing through oak shoe molding into oak baseboards. And of course the 15 gauge can easily nail baseboards (oak or pine) into studs. I have the PC compressor. I am sure your nailers would perform similarly. I would use 18 gauge on shoe molding rather than 15 or 16. 15 or 16 is better for the baseboards, crown/chair molding, etc.
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Check out the PC combo deal with two of the guns you indicated plus the pancake compressor. I purchased this setup two years ago to do shoe moldings. Pretty nice setup and only a couple of misfires on about 700' of moldings. Only minus is the compressor is way too loud but doesn't come on too often. Since my purchase PC had another promotion throwing in another gun for free - sweet deal. I ended up using the 16ga with 2.5" since it holds the molding tighter to the wall. Most of my molding was soft wood but I don't anticipate any problems with hardwood, plenty of driving force with either the 16ga or 18ga guns. I even drive the nails into laminate flooring, expecting lots of chips because the surface material is 40 times harder than hardwood - but it was so clean and don't notice the nails if you don't look too closely.
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Correction: change shoe molding to base molding.
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on 3/31/2005 12:53 PM Greg M said the following:

What sort of "future projects" you're contemplating is key to the answer to this question.
I started out with the 18ga BN for a specific project. It worked fine for that. The next project required a finish nailer and so I bought the 15 ga, angle FN from P-C. In retrospect, I could have gotten by for BOTH projects with the 15 ga but...
If your future projects include very fine pieces of molding or thin assemblies, etc. then you might want to go with the 18ga. If not, the 15ga makes more sense to me. If you're not firing right at the edge of that base/shoe molding neither the 15ga or 18ga should give you any grief about splitting. That's the nice thing about those pneumatic nailers - it's over before the wood realizes it's been hit. Doesn't give it time to split<g>
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for baseboard I'd use 15 or 16. No smaller.
Dave
Greg M wrote:

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I certainly do not claim to be and expert but in my opinion an 18 ga nailer, with longer nails is fine for installing lighter weight base trim and for a lot of shop applications. If you are hanging heavy base moulding and door moulding you need to go to a bigger nailer. The bigger wood moves more and with more force. This will pull or break the 18ga nails.
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