How to Load a Brad Nailer with Nails Safely

First things first, what is a brad nailer? This is basically an electrically powered tool that fires 18-gauge brads. Brad nailers can either be corded or cordless, the latter is more inexpensive. They work by loading an air compression chamber by means of an electric charge then uses the power from the chamber discharging to shoot the brad.

Essentially, brad nailers are used for trimming around interior windows and doors, crown molding, cabinet and furniture work. When working on a project that requires the use of brads, it will be necessary to use an electric or pneumatic nail gun. Loading brad nails into the nail gun is then a priceless lesson to learn.

Loading a Brad Nailer: Key Elements

  • Air Pressure Dial: Adjusts the amount of air that is expelled when the trigger is pressed. The more the air pressure, the deeper the brads; less pressure means higher brads.
  • Depth Gauge: Meant to adjust the distance of the nailer from your work material.
  • Magazine: It’s where brad strips are loaded.
  • Magazine Lock: It’s pressed to load the gun. On the other end of the magazine there is another lock used to clear the magazine of jammed brads.

How to Load a Brad Nailer?

As expected, different brad nailers load differently. However, there are some features that are common to virtually all nailers. These are:

  • Brad length: Ensure that your brads are of correct range of length. One may ask, what about brads shorter than the lower end of the range? Well, they may fit in the magazine, but chances are they won’t fire in the desired manner and instead jam at the end of the magazine. Gauge of the brads is equally vital.
  • Continuous Strips: Carefully handle the brad strip to ensure it doesn’t break apart. You can piece together shorter lengths.
  • Push Forward: You’ll slide the brad strip far forward towards the nailer’s firing end.
  • Slide Magazine Shut with Care: As much as you may need to vigorously slap the magazine shut, too much force may jam the nailer or cause the brad strip to fall out of place.

As you’ll notice, you’ll NEED these accessories before even thinking of loading a brad nailer.

  • Safety goggles
  • Brads of right size
  • Power supply
  • Nail gun

Having considered all these, below is how you go ahead with loading a brad nailer.

1. Preparation

You always must read all the warning labels that come with your tool before you use it. As you’ll find out, some models require the air hose to be connected whereas others require it to be disconnected. Ensure you adhere to the varied instructions and requirements on the tool’s warning labels for the type of brad nailer being used.

2. Hook-up the Airholes

This can be effected by wrapping the fitting them with a Teflon tape. The airhole is tightened to ensure it does not allow air to leak during operation.

3. Open the Brad Magazine

You do this by depressing the cartage. Pull it back all the way to have access to the magazine. That’s where you basically put different types of brad nails.

4. Loading the Brads

Place the brads into the magazine. Ensure the head of the brad correctly fits into each of the provided slots. You’ll notice that there are several different grooves to allow for different size brads. It may slide a little bit in the groove but won’t be able to pull out. Insert several brads but ensure they comfortably fit in the magazine.

However, you should shun overloading the magazine. Depending on the specifications, you can put 110 nails at a time, it’s not necessary to count them. Just make sure there is a comfortable amount.

5. Close the Magazine

Eventually, go ahead and slide the magazine until it clicks in place.

6. Loading Mechanism

This is exclusively dependent on the type of brad nailer being used. Some brad nailers load brads from the side while others load from the top, just like a standard office staple gun. Irrespective of the loading mechanism, just ensure that there is a proper fit of the brads to the loading device for safety’s sake.

Usage Tips

Once you’ve loaded your brad nailer and are confident of its readiness for usage, it’s wise to note that different types of wood have varied splitting properties, however, a little experience with each type of wood you choose will give you an idea of how closely you can work to the end grain of the stock without necessarily splitting it.

Additionally, because brads are so thin, you may encounter some nails that do not sink all the way into the stock. This is specifically problematic with brads since it’s much harder to pound the brad all the way into the stock with a hammer.

As you’ll quickly discover, brads bend quite easily under the head of a hammer. Instead of trying to nail in the protruding brad, it is probably wiser to remove it. With a brad to remove, instead of using a hammer to pull it out, brad nailers are undoubtedly handier in removing the nails with ease, especially with the lightweight brads.


While there are many applications for a brad nailer, the brads may be difficult to drive through some hardwood and manufactured wood products such as plywood. This reminds us of why it’s wise to ensure we’ve loaded the brad nailer with appropriate number of the brads and closed the magazine correctly.

Notably, most brad nailers are pneumatic meaning they require a hose to an air compressor to power the tool. Irrespective of the style, ensure you have a source for the appropriate style of brads to use in your nailer.

Even though brad nailers are often considered safe tool because the nails are much smaller, they can still cause injury during usage. As such, when using a brad nailer, it’s vital to take the same safety precautions that you would employ while operating any other power tool, specifically, wear safety goggles, keep all loose clothing away from the work surface.

Importantly, put on hearing protection if you are in a confined space with a loud air compressor.

Emily Floate

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