Posts Tagged ‘Brad nailer’

I wanted to put up bead board in a small laundry room, but lost enthusiasm for the project after realizing I would need to spend a couple of hours nailing boards over my head. So perhaps I did not really need a pneumatic Brad nailer, but now that I own one, I have tons of ideas for more projects! As if there were not enough items on our “to do” list. 

The unremarkable "before shot" made worse by the "track lighting"...

The unremarkable "before shot" made worse by the "track lighting"...

Tools and Materials:

  • Brad nail gun
  • Mitre saw
  • Stud finder
  • Chalk line
  • Pine beadboard
  • Pine crown molding
  • Measuring tape

I choose a small room to gain some experience working with the nail gun.

Paint or prime the beadboard first. This will ensure the tongue and grove of the boards are fully covered as it will be hard to get into any uneven joints once the boards are up. For this project, I used a lower grade pine that was meant to be painted. Using the nail gun will also ensure that you do not split boards and that you do not leave hammer marks or nail heads that need to be putty filled.

Snapped chalk lines

Snapped chalk lines

To put up a bead board ceiling, I first used a stud finder to locate the ceiling joists and then snapped a chalk line to mark their location. The beadboard should be installed perpendicular to the joists so that you get solid wood stock in which to nail.

It is recommended to leave around a 1/4 inch gap to account for expansion of the boards. This gap will be covered by your trim. If the beadboard is going to be installed in a humid room, then you may also want to back prime the boards so they are less susseccible to expansion.

If your ceilings are not true (and chances are they arn’t true) then you may want to account for the irregularity to ensure that the bead will line up and run parallel with the trim molding. This room is a small “scullery” and I did not bother with the added fuss and the slight irregularity is not noticeable at all. The first board should be face nailed, but after that board I “toenailed” the boards to hide the nail heads within the tongue and grove of the beadboard.

Mitre cut the crown molding

Mitre cut the crown molding

Some boards may be so warped that you won’t be able to use them on long stretches, but can be salvaged to work around light boxes. I tried to keep the alignment of the tongue and grove as tight as possible so there were no obvious gaps.

Once it is all nailed up, then it is time to cut the crown molding. I thought this would be easy, but the experience brought back my regrettable experience of high school math. How to cut a mitered corner is a post in itself… there are some good guides online and your saw’s owners manual should give you the angle degrees you need for the right cut.

Not the hardest work to get a classic period look

And done

Using the Brad nailer is fun, quick and easy, just do not forget the ear and eye protection. Beadboard looks great in an old house and gives it some Victorian character where there would otherwise be drywall.

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Many jobs that are an avoidable chore can be wrapped up quickly with a brad nailer. Most small compressors will be able to handle basic 18 gauge brad nailing. It can be confusing, since compressors are rated by both their maximum pressure per square inch (PSI) and by the amount of continuous air they can provide to your tools (CFM Cubic Feet per Minutes). My smaller compressor for household use will deliver around 3.7 CFM at 40 PSI and 2.6 CFM at 90 PSI.


Both the size of the tank and how powerful the compressor is will impact these ratings, so compressor HP or tank size alone is not the best indicator of your machine’s air delivery. This is enough power for brad and frame nailing or light spray painting and less continuous use of a smaller air chisel or air ratchet. Other tools that require continuous air delivery, like a powerful orbital sander or polisher, would need a much bigger compressor and tank. As always, the right tool should be matched for the job. Using a small compressor with a high CFM tool on a big continuous use project will just take usable years off your machine’s life.

A nailer with an adjustable exhaust port is not essential, but will help keep the air exhaust from blowing in your face when working awkward angles. Most air tools have a maximum PSI rating and a range of operable PSI. While your compressor may be rated at a higher PSI, you will have to use the regulator to adjust the PSI provided to the tool. A good nailer will also allow you to adjust the depth of the nail and that adjustment will depend on the range of PSI provided to the tool. This sounds complicated, but only requires a few test nails to get the depth you need for the material you are working with. 

Rubber compression hoses seem less stiff and easier to work with than PVC hoses, but this is not a big deal if you can save money with a packaged kit that includes the hose.

1/2" to 2" Brad nailer

18 gauge, 1/2" to 2" Brad nailer

This is one tool where the owners manual should be read. Also, most compressors need a break in period of continuous run time with the bleed valve open. Air tools and compressors also require specific maintenance routines that should be followed, such as bleeding condensation out of the tank to avoid corrosion.

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