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Angled vs Straight Finish Nailer

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Different Type of Nail Guns

Introduction to Angled vs Straight Finish Nailer

Finish nailers are a vital tool in the arsenal of any serious woodworker or DIY enthusiast. These specialized pneumatic or electric devices are designed to securely and discreetly fasten trim, molding, baseboards, and other finish materials to a variety of surfaces. Unlike larger framing nailers, finish nailers are designed for precision and finesse, leaving behind minimal, often barely noticeable holes that require minimal touch-up work. Finish nailers come in two primary categories: angled finish nailers and straight finish nailers. These tools use nails that are significantly smaller in gauge compared to framing nails, and they are available in a range of lengths to suit different project requirements. While both angled and straight finish nailers serve the same basic purpose, they have distinct features and capabilities that make them better suited for specific woodworking applications. This lead us to the great debate of Angled vs Straight Finish Nailer.

Choosing the Right Nailer for Your Woodworking Projects

The choice between an angled or straight finish nailer may seem inconsequential, but it can significantly impact the outcome of your woodworking projects. Selecting the appropriate nailer is a critical decision that influences the quality of your work, your efficiency, and the overall appearance of the finished product. The wrong choice can lead to frustration, extra effort, and potentially even damage to your materials.

The right finish nailer should complement the nature of your project and offer you the flexibility to work efficiently and effectively. You’ll want to consider factors like the type of materials you’ll be working with, the layout of your workspace, and the specific angles and tight spots you’ll encounter. Your choice can determine whether your woodworking endeavors result in a seamless, professional finish or a job that requires extensive sanding, patching, and touch-up work.

Key Differences Between Angled and Straight Finish Nailers

Angled and straight finish nailers are distinct in their design and functionality, making them better suited for different tasks. Understanding these key differences is crucial when deciding which tool is the right fit for your projects. Here is an overview of the primary distinctions between the two:

  1. Angle of Nail Magazine: Angled finish nailers have a nail magazine that is tilted at an angle, typically around 20 to 34 degrees. This design allows for better access to tight corners, confined spaces, and awkward angles. In contrast, straight finish nailers have a magazine that holds nails in a perfectly straight line.
  2. Maneuverability: Angled finish nailers excel in maneuverability due to their angled magazine. This feature makes it easier to position the nailer in hard-to-reach areas, making them ideal for tasks like installing crown molding and working in corners. Straight finish nailers are less flexible in this regard and may require more repositioning for angled nailing.
  3. Nail Type: Both types of finish nailers use the same small-gauge finish nails, but the angled design limits the angle at which nails can be driven into the material. This can be advantageous or limiting, depending on the specific application.
  4. Size and Weight: Angled finish nailers tend to be slightly larger and heavier than their straight counterparts. While this added bulk can be a disadvantage in some situations, it can also provide greater stability and control for certain projects.

In the sections that follow, we’ll delve deeper into the advantages and disadvantages of each type of finish nailer and provide recommendations for specific models to help you make an informed decision based on your unique woodworking needs.

Angled Finish Nailer

Angled finish nailers are a specific type of pneumatic or cordless nail gun designed for precision nailing in woodworking and construction projects. They are easily distinguishable from straight finish nailers by their unique angled magazine. This magazine or nail cartridge holds the fasteners (typically 15- or 16-gauge nails) at an angle to the axis of the nailer, usually around 20 to 34 degrees. This angled design allows the nailer to access tight spaces and corners that might be challenging for straight finish nailers.

The magazine design of an angled finish nailer is often located at the side of the tool rather than the bottom, which allows for a more compact and maneuverable profile. These nailers are available in both pneumatic and cordless (battery-powered) variations, offering flexibility for different working conditions and preferences.

Advantages of Using an Angled Finish Nailer:

  1. Access to Tight Corners and Confined Spaces: One of the primary advantages of using an angled finish nailer is its ability to reach tight corners and confined spaces. The angled magazine design enables the nailer to fit into areas that are difficult to access with a straight finish nailer. This is especially useful when you’re working on cabinetry, crown molding, or baseboards, where corners and edges often require precise nailing.
  2. Improved Maneuverability: Angled finish nailers are known for their enhanced maneuverability. The side-loading magazine and compact design make it easier to navigate the tool in various positions and angles, even in overhead applications. This feature can significantly reduce user fatigue and increase overall efficiency, especially on longer projects.

Disadvantages of Using an Angled Finish Nailer:

  1. Slightly Larger and Heavier: While angled finish nailers offer improved access to tight spaces, they are generally slightly larger and heavier compared to their straight finish nailer counterparts. This added size and weight can make them less comfortable for extended use, particularly if you need to hold the nailer overhead or in awkward positions for extended periods.
  2. Limited to Certain Angles: Another limitation of angled finish nailers is that they are designed to accommodate a specific range of angles, usually between 20 to 34 degrees. While this range covers many common nailing angles, it may not be suitable for all situations. If you require an angle outside of this range, you may need to resort to a straight finish nailer or adjust your project’s design.

Real-World Applications and Projects Where Angled Finish Nailers Excel:

Angled finish nailers are particularly well-suited for a variety of woodworking and construction projects, including but not limited to:

  1. Cabinetry: Installing and securing trim, face frames, and paneling in cabinets often requires precise nailing in tight spaces and corners. Angled finish nailers excel in these situations.
  2. Crown Molding: The intricate corners and angles of crown molding installations are where angled finish nailers shine. They can easily access and nail these challenging spots.
  3. Baseboards and Trim: When attaching baseboards, chair rails, or other decorative trim to walls, the maneuverability of an angled finish nailer simplifies the process and ensures a clean finish.
  4. Window and Door Casings: Angled finish nailers are perfect for securing window and door casings in place, particularly in corners and where space is limited.
  5. Framing and Sheathing: In structural framing or sheathing projects, angled finish nailers can be used for specific applications where access is limited or where a unique angle is required.

The angled finish nailer’s design offers distinct advantages for working in tight spaces and achieving precision in nailing. It’s an invaluable tool for professionals and DIY enthusiasts who frequently encounter projects that demand superior access and maneuverability.

Straight Finish Nailer

Straight finish nailers, also known as straight-collated nailers, are power tools designed for precise and controlled nailing in woodworking, cabinetry, trim work, and other finish carpentry projects. They are a subtype of pneumatic or cordless nail guns specifically engineered to drive straight nails without any angling. The design of straight finish nailers features a streamlined, slender nosepiece that accommodates the straight collated nails, typically 15 or 16-gauge.

Straight finish nailers are available in both pneumatic and cordless variations. Pneumatic models require an air compressor to operate, while cordless models use rechargeable batteries. These nailers come with a magazine that holds a strip of nails, allowing for efficient and continuous nailing without the need for frequent reloading.

Advantages of Using a Straight Finish Nailer:

  1. Precise and Straight Nail Placement:
    • Straight finish nailers are renowned for their ability to drive nails in a perfectly straight line, thanks to their specialized design. This precision is crucial for projects where aesthetics and neatness are of utmost importance, such as installing crown molding, baseboards, or window casings.
    • The straight, aligned nail placement reduces the risk of splitting delicate wood pieces and leaves minimal or no visible nail holes. This feature is especially valuable when you want to achieve a professional and polished finish.
  2. Suitable for Delicate or Detailed Work:
    • Straight finish nailers are excellent choices for detailed carpentry tasks where finesse and accuracy are critical. Their straight nail delivery minimizes the risk of damaging fragile trim, ornate moldings, or veneered surfaces.
    • These nailers excel in projects like attaching decorative trim, assembling furniture, or installing intricate wooden panels. The precise nail placement ensures a clean and unblemished appearance, enhancing the overall quality of the work.

Disadvantages of Using a Straight Finish Nailer:

  1. Limited Access to Tight Spaces:
    • Straight finish nailers have a long and straight nosepiece, which can limit their accessibility in tight or confined spaces. In situations where you need to nail in corners or narrow areas, you may find it challenging to maneuver the nailer effectively.
    • While they are ideal for many applications, you might need to complement them with an angled finish nailer for those hard-to-reach corners or awkward angles.
  2. May Require Repositioning for Angled Nailing:
    • Straight finish nailers are designed for straight nailing, so if you encounter situations where angled nailing is necessary (e.g., joining pieces at different angles), you may need to reposition the nailer. This extra step can slow down the workflow, especially in larger projects.
    • In contrast, an angled finish nailer is better suited for scenarios where you require flexibility in nail placement without the need for repositioning.

Real-world Applications and Projects Where Straight Finish Nailers Excel:

Straight finish nailers find their niche in numerous woodworking and carpentry projects, including:

  1. Trim Installation: When installing baseboards, crown molding, chair rails, or other decorative trim elements, straight finish nailers provide the precision and clean finish required for these visible areas.
  2. Cabinet Making: In cabinetry, where precision is paramount, straight finish nailers are essential for attaching cabinet faces, securing shelves, and assembling intricate cabinet components.
  3. Furniture Assembly: Whether you’re building custom furniture or making repairs, straight finish nailers are indispensable for attaching delicate wooden components without causing damage.
  4. Paneling and Wainscoting: The straight nail placement of these nailers is ideal for securing wood paneling and wainscoting, maintaining a seamless appearance on walls and ceilings.
  5. Woodworking Crafts: In fine woodworking and crafting, straight finish nailers are a valuable tool for creating intricate wooden boxes, frames, and other decorative pieces.

In these applications, the precision and clean finish offered by straight finish nailers make them the tool of choice for professionals and DIY enthusiasts looking to achieve top-notch results in their projects.

Different Type of Nail Guns

Top 5 Angled Finish Nailers

  1. DeWalt DCN660B 20V Max Angled Finish Nailer

    • Features:
      • 20V Max battery-powered
      • Angled magazine for improved access
      • Depth adjustment for nail placement control
      • Tool-free jam release mechanism
    • Review: The DeWalt DCN660B is a powerful and versatile nailer that offers excellent maneuverability. Its battery-powered design eliminates the need for cords, making it suitable for both indoor and outdoor projects.
  2. Bostitch N62FNK-2 Angled Finish Nailer

    • Features:
      • 15-gauge angled finish nailer
      • Lightweight magnesium body
      • Depth control adjustment
      • 130-nail magazine capacity
    • Review: The Bostitch N62FNK-2 is known for its durability and precision. Its lightweight construction and angled magazine make it a great choice for extended use, and it’s compatible with a wide range of finish nails.
  3. Makita AF635 Angled Finish Nailer

    • Features:
      • 15-gauge angled finish nailer
      • Narrow nose design for precise nailing
      • Anti-dry fire mechanism
      • Depth adjustment
    • Review: The Makita AF635 is praised for its accuracy and consistent performance. Its narrow nose design allows for pin-point nailing, making it an ideal choice for detailed and intricate finish work.
  4. Hitachi NT65MA4 Angled Finish Nailer

    • Features:
      • 15-gauge angled finish nailer
      • Integrated air duster
      • Tool-less depth adjustment
      • Selective actuation for sequential or bump firing
    • Review: The Hitachi NT65MA4 is appreciated for its versatility. The integrated air duster keeps your work surface clean, and the selective actuation feature allows you to switch between firing modes as needed.
  5. Freeman PFN1564 15-Gauge Angled Finish Nailer

    • Features:
      • 15-gauge angled finish nailer
      • No-mar tip to prevent surface damage
      • 360-degree adjustable exhaust
      • Ergonomic handle for comfort
    • Review: The Freeman PFN1564 is a budget-friendly option without sacrificing quality. Its 360-degree adjustable exhaust and ergonomic handle enhance user comfort, making it a good choice for DIY enthusiasts.

Pros and Cons of Each Nailer

  • DeWalt DCN660B:
    • Pros: Cordless, excellent maneuverability, jam release mechanism.
    • Cons: Higher price point.
  • Bostitch N62FNK-2:
    • Pros: Lightweight, durable, versatile.
    • Cons: Requires an air compressor.
  • Makita AF635:
    • Pros: Precise, anti-dry fire mechanism, narrow nose.
    • Cons: Slightly heavier than some competitors.
  • Hitachi NT65MA4:
    • Pros: Integrated air duster, selective actuation, versatility.
    • Cons: May require frequent maintenance.
  • Freeman PFN1564:
    • Pros: Budget-friendly, adjustable exhaust, ergonomic handle.
    • Cons: Limited to 15-gauge nails.

Price Range and Availability

The price range for these angled finish nailers typically varies from $150 to $400, depending on the brand, features, and the inclusion of additional accessories. They are readily available through online retailers, local hardware stores, and home improvement centers.

Recommendations and Who Each Nailer Is Best Suited For

  • DeWalt DCN660B: Ideal for professionals and woodworkers who require a cordless nailer with exceptional maneuverability for both indoor and outdoor projects.
  • Bostitch N62FNK-2: Perfect for users who prioritize lightweight, durable construction and need a versatile nailer for various finish applications.
  • Makita AF635: Recommended for those who demand pinpoint accuracy in their finish work and appreciate an anti-dry fire mechanism for added safety.
  • Hitachi NT65MA4: Versatile choice for professionals and DIYers who need a reliable nailer with an integrated air duster for clean working surfaces.
  • Freeman PFN1564: An excellent budget-friendly option for DIY enthusiasts who want a comfortable and functional nailer for home projects without breaking the bank.


Top 5 Straight Finish Nailers

When it comes to choosing a straight finish nailer, it’s essential to consider various options on the market. Below, we’ll provide a detailed review of the top 5 straight finish nailers, including their features, pros and cons, price range, availability, and recommendations for their best-suited applications.

1. DeWalt DWFP71917 Precision Point 16-Gauge


  • The DeWalt DWFP71917 is a 16-gauge straight finish nailer designed for precise and accurate nail placement.
  • It features DeWalt’s Precision Point Technology, which ensures clean and consistent nail penetration without the need for a compressor.
  • The tool-free depth adjustment allows for customization of nail depth according to the specific application.


  • Excellent precision and control, making it perfect for trim work, crown molding, and baseboards.
  • No need for a compressor, making it more portable and convenient.
  • The tool-free depth adjustment enhances versatility.


  • Slightly heavier than some other models, which may lead to fatigue during extended use.
  • Relatively higher price point.

Price Range and Availability: The DeWalt DWFP71917 is available at most major home improvement stores and online retailers. It is priced in the mid to high range, which reflects its quality and precision.

Recommendations: The DeWalt DWFP71917 is an excellent choice for professional carpenters and DIY enthusiasts who require precision and consistency in their finish work. Its tool-free depth adjustment and Precision Point Technology make it suitable for a wide range of trim and molding applications.

2. Hitachi NT65MA4 15-Gauge Angle Finish Nailer


  • The Hitachi NT65MA4 is a 15-gauge straight finish nailer with an integrated air duster for clearing debris and dust from your work surface.
  • It offers a selective actuation switch that allows for sequential or contact nailing.
  • Depth of drive adjustment and no-mar tip protect the work surface.


  • Integrated air duster keeps the work area clean and visible.
  • Selective actuation switch for versatile nailing modes.
  • Well-balanced and lightweight for reduced user fatigue during extended use.


  • Limited to 15-gauge nails, which may not be suitable for heavier trim.
  • Some users may prefer a straight magazine, but this is more of a personal preference.

Price Range and Availability: The Hitachi NT65MA4 is readily available at home improvement stores and online retailers. It falls within the mid-price range, making it a cost-effective option for both professionals and hobbyists.

Recommendations: The Hitachi NT65MA4 is an excellent choice for those seeking a versatile and reliable 15-gauge straight finish nailer. Its integrated air duster and selective actuation switch make it a solid option for various finish carpentry applications, including crown molding, baseboards, and more.

3. Makita AF635 15-Gauge Angle Finish Nailer


  • The Makita AF635 is a 15-gauge straight finish nailer designed with a compact and ergonomic design for ease of use.
  • It offers a 2-mode selector switch for sequential and contact nailing.
  • The built-in air duster clears the work surface for precise nail placement.


  • Compact and ergonomic design reduces user fatigue and enhances maneuverability.
  • 2-mode selector switch provides flexibility for different nailing applications.
  • Quality construction and durable build for long-lasting use.


  • The cost may be higher compared to some other models in the same category.
  • Limited to 15-gauge nails, which may not be suitable for extremely heavy trim work.

Price Range and Availability: The Makita AF635 is widely available at home improvement stores and online retailers. While it’s priced in the higher range, its build quality and user-friendly features make it a solid investment for professionals and enthusiasts.

Recommendations: The Makita AF635 is an ideal choice for users who prioritize ergonomics and precision. Its compact design, 2-mode selector switch, and built-in air duster make it suitable for various finish nailing tasks. This finish nailer is well-suited for trim work, cabinet installation, and other detail-oriented projects.

4. BOSTITCH BTFP72156 Smart Point 15-Gauge


  • The BOSTITCH BTFP72156 is a 15-gauge straight finish nailer equipped with Smart Point Technology for precise nail placement.
  • Its oil-free operation reduces maintenance and prevents staining on the work surface.
  • Tool-free depth adjustment and selectable trigger provide versatility.


  • Smart Point Technology ensures accurate nail placement without leaving marks on the workpiece.
  • Oil-free operation reduces the need for maintenance and keeps your work surface clean.
  • Tool-free depth adjustment and selectable trigger enhance usability.


  • Slightly heavier and bulkier than some other models in its class.
  • Limited to 15-gauge nails, which may not be suitable for heavy trim or molding.

Price Range and Availability: The BOSTITCH BTFP72156 is widely available in stores and online, and it is generally priced in the mid-range, making it an attractive option for users looking for precision without breaking the bank.

Recommendations: The BOSTITCH BTFP72156 with Smart Point Technology is a solid choice for finish carpenters who demand precision and convenience. Its oil-free operation, tool-free adjustments, and selectable trigger make it suitable for a wide range of finish nailing tasks, including crown molding, baseboards, and more.

5. Porter-Cable PCC792LA 16-Gauge


  • The Porter-Cable PCC792LA is a 16-gauge straight finish nailer with a compact and lightweight design for ease of use.
  • It features depth adjustment, a no-mar tip, and a selectable trigger for versatile nailing modes.
  • A battery-powered, cordless design for increased portability.


  • Compact and lightweight design reduces user fatigue during extended use.
  • Cordless operation enhances portability and eliminates the need for hoses and compressors.
  • Suitable for various finish nailing applications with the selectable trigger and depth adjustment.


  • Cordless operation requires battery management and potential downtime for recharging.
  • Limited to 16-gauge nails, which may not be suitable for extremely heavy trim work.

Price Range and Availability: The Porter-Cable PCC792LA is readily available at home improvement stores and online retailers. Its price range is in the mid-range, making it a cost-effective choice for both professionals and hobbyists, especially those who value portability.

Recommendations: The Porter-Cable PCC792LA is an excellent choice for users who prioritize portability and cordless convenience. It’s suitable for a variety of finish nailing tasks, including trim work, baseboards, and more. Professionals and DIY enthusiasts looking for a cordless solution will find this nailer to be a valuable addition to their toolkit.

Comparison Chart of Angled vs Straight Finish Nailer

Feature DeWalt DWFP71917 16-Gauge Hitachi NT65MA4 15-Gauge Makita AF635 15-Gauge BOSTITCH BTFP72156 15-Gauge Porter-Cable PCC792LA 16-Gauge DeWalt DC618K 16-Gauge Hitachi NT65MA2 15-Gauge Makita AF601 16-Gauge BOSTITCH N62FNK-2 15-Gauge
Gauge 16 15 15 15 16 16 15 16 15
Integrated Air Duster No Yes Yes No No Yes Yes No No
Selective Actuation Switch No Yes Yes Yes Yes No No No No
Oil-Free Operation No No No Yes No No No No No
Cordless Operation No No No No Yes No No No No
Compact and Ergonomic Design No No Yes No Yes No No Yes No
Precision Point Technology (Smart Point) Yes No No Yes No No No No No
Tool-Free Depth Adjustment Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Price Range and Availability Mid-High Mid High Mid Mid Mid Mid-High Mid Mid-High
Recommendations Precision and consistency Versatile and reliable Ergonomics and precision Precision and convenience Portability and cordless Precision and consistency Versatile and reliable Ergonomics and precision Versatile and reliable

How to Choose the Right Finish Nailer for Your Project

Factors to consider when making your decision

  1. Project Type and Scale: The first and most crucial factor to consider when choosing between an angled and straight finish nailer is the type and scale of your project. If you’re working on large construction projects or trim work that involves tight corners and intricate details, an angled finish nailer might be the better choice due to its ability to access confined spaces. On the other hand, for smaller, more delicate projects, like furniture making or crown molding installation, a straight finish nailer is often the preferred option as it offers precise and straight nail placement.
  2. Budget Constraints: Your budget is another critical factor. Angled finish nailers tend to be slightly more expensive than their straight counterparts due to their added versatility and features. It’s essential to weigh the extra cost against the benefits they provide for your specific needs. Consider how frequently you’ll use the nailer and whether the investment is justifiable based on your anticipated projects.
  3. Personal Preferences and Experience: Your personal preferences and level of experience with finish nailers also play a significant role in your decision. If you have prior experience with one type of finish nailer and feel comfortable using it, you may lean towards that option. Your familiarity with the tool can increase your efficiency and the quality of your work. However, if you’re new to finish nailers, you may want to try both types to determine which feels more comfortable and suits your working style better.

Comparison Chart for Quick Reference

To simplify the decision-making process, we’ve included a comparison chart in this post that summarizes the key differences between angled and straight finish nailers. This chart provides a quick reference to help you understand their strengths and weaknesses at a glance, making it easier to match these features to your project requirements and preferences. It includes information such as nailer type, accessibility, maneuverability, nail placement precision, and price range.

Tips for Maintaining and Using Your Chosen Finish Nailer:

Regardless of whether you opt for an angled or straight finish nailer, it’s essential to maintain and use the tool properly to ensure its longevity and your safety. Regularly clean and lubricate your nailer to prevent jamming and maintain optimal performance. Keep an eye on the condition of the nails you’re using and make sure they are the right length and gauge for your nailer. Always wear appropriate safety gear, including safety glasses and hearing protection, when operating the tool. Familiarize yourself with the nailer’s user manual for specific maintenance and operational guidelines, and be cautious when handling the nailer, especially when it’s loaded with nails. These maintenance and usage tips will not only extend the lifespan of your finish nailer but also contribute to the overall quality and safety of your woodworking projects.


The choice between an angled and straight finish nailer ultimately comes down to the specific needs of your projects, your budget, and your personal preferences and experience. Both types have their distinct advantages and disadvantages, so there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. We hope this article has provided you with the information you need to make an informed decision. Whether you’re a professional woodworker or a DIY enthusiast, the right finish nailer can make a world of difference in the quality and efficiency of your work. Remember to consider the factors we’ve discussed, consult the comparison chart, and follow the maintenance and usage tips to make the most of your chosen finish nailer. Whichever you choose, happy nailing!

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