Nailers

Angled vs. Straight Finish Nailer – What’s the Difference?

Angled vs. Straight Finish Nailer

As a woodworker, you will probably need both an angled and a straight finish nailer for your projects. However, if working on a DIY project, you will probably need just one or you might be able to afford only one of them. Well, which one do you pick?

The most notable difference between these tools is their appearance. An angled finish nailer has an angled magazine while a straight one has a straight magazine, hence their names. There are more differences and let’s dig into them.

Overall Findings

Angled Finish Nailer

Straight Finish Nailer

  • Ideal for working in tight spaces
  • Suitable for pinning heavy-gauge nails
  • Lightweight
  • Expensive
  • Suitable for large spaces
  • Suitable for pinning thin nails
  • Heavy
  • Affordable

Angled Finish Nailer

  • Ideal for working in tight spaces
  • Suitable for pinning heavy-gauge nails
  • Lightweight
  • Expensive

Straight Finish Nailer

  • Suitable for large spaces
  • Suitable for pinning thin nails
  • Heavy
  • Affordable

Comparison

1. Size and Shape: Angled Finish Nailers Fit in Tight Spaces

The angled magazine design in an angled finish nailer makes it fit easily into tight spots because it slants backward towards your arm when holding the handle. This comes in handy when pinning nails on corners, for instance when installing crown molding boards.

That said, the slanting angle usually varies between 21˚ and 34˚ and the higher the value the better. This is because it creates a more acute angle that fits in tighter spaces and makes the tool more compact.

In contrast, with straight finish nailers, the magazine is placed at a 90˚ angle to the tool and this gives it a large boxy shape that does not fit easily in tight spaces.

2. Project Type: Light vs. Heavy Construction Work

Apart from allowing the nailer to fit in tight spaces, the angled magazine enables angled finish nailers to hold large, heavy-gauge nails and fire them with great force into the wood.

This large capacity is possible because the magazine does not block the nozzle when held at a 90˚ angle to your workpiece. As such, the tool is ideal for heavy construction work such as cabinet making, which requires large nails such as the 15-gauge size.

On the other hand, straight finish nailers don’t pack that big of a punch. They can only hammer in thinner nails that are 16 gauge and above, which makes them ideal for light construction work. This includes nailing picture frames and installing panels.

3. Portability: Angled Finish Nailers are Easily Portable

Angled nailers also have the advantage of being lighter than straight nailers because less material is used to build them (triangle vs. box shape). Combined with their compact design, this makes them easily portable and easier to handle.

4. Budget: Straight Finish Nailers are More Affordable

With such power, it's no surprise that an angled finish nailer is more expensive than the straight type. On top of that, it requires thick, heavy-duty nails that are difficult to find and are more expensive.

This is their only disadvantage and therefore, if you are on a tight budget, a straight finish nailer is the best option. That said, it is the best option if your project requires light construction work. If your project needs strong support using thick nails, you should not compromise.

Conclusion 

All in all, when piecing in the final finishing touches in your project, you should use the most ideal nailer and you can see above, these two are suitable for different kinds of projects.

We recommend using the angled type when nailing in tight spaces or when having heavy construction work. Otherwise, the straight finish nailer will do.

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