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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Minneapolis, MN
    Posts
    201

    Default 15 Gauge VS. 16 Gauge

    Hi folks!

    Ok, so I've been a carpenter for nearly ten years now, and have worked with dozens of other carpenters, each with their own habits and preferences. Early in my career most of my coworkers trimmed with 16 gauge and 18 gauge nailers. More recently, most of my coworkers use 15 gauge and 18 gauge nailers. Right now, I use a Hitachi 15 gauge, a Senco 18 gauge, and a Cadex 23 gauge for installing trim.

    On a recent kitchen remodel my coworker and I had to install new ceiling panels, consisting of 1/2" MDF sheets with maple veneers, which I routed grooves to recreate the look of tongue and groove boards. We screwed and nailed the sheets to the ceiling framing using trim head screws, and my coworker insisted that we use 16 gauge nails as they would not "mushroom" the MDF as he claimed a 15 gauge nail would. He explained that it had to do with the head geometry, that the T-shape of the 16 gauge nails would not pucker the material as much. While I have had good experiences with my 15 gauge nailer, I certainly don't have an emotional investment in it if a 16 gauge nailer is superior.

    So, what do you folks think? 15 gauge or 16 gauge, for installing most trim products (maple, oak, MDF, Azek, etc...)?

    And, as far as 16 gauge nailers go, does anybody have any input regarding the Paslode T250A 16-Gauge Pneumatic Angled Finish Nailer?

    http://www.amazon.com/Paslode-16-Gau...545157&sr=1-20

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Location
    Near the Burgh, Pennsylvania
    Posts
    3,306

    Default Re: 15 Gauge VS. 16 Gauge

    I use 15 , 16 and 18 gauge nails. 15 gauge nails are used mostly now for hanging doors and stair treads etc.. I use 16 gauge nails for installing casing and base that is 3/4" thick or thicker. I will drop down to an 18 gauge if the trim is 5/8" or less. I nail my casing to the jamb with the 18 gauge. I own the Paslode 16 gauge angle finish nailer and like the gun very much and probably use it more than any other gun.

    As far as the mdf and mushrooming...I would think the smaller the nail the less mushrooming would occur. From what I understand in mdf when the nail goes through the material it displaces. Like dropping something in a glass of water, the water needs to go someplace. MDF does the same thing. When a nail goes through wood it cuts and or tears.
    ~Kent~

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    Chicago
    Posts
    3,599

    Default Re: 15 Gauge VS. 16 Gauge

    In my experience, in this area, carpenters use 16 and 18 gauge guns, that's it. The smaller the nail, the smaller and less noticeable the hole, so use the smallest you feel is adequate. I've never seen the need to go bigger than 16 gauge.

    I guess pinners are nice, but it's another tool to buy and maintain. Usually not necessary, IMO. We carry hand-nail pins in the rare instances we need them.

    I'm not a fan of Paslodes. See this thread:

    http://forums.jlconline.com/forums/s...ad.php?t=49193

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Location
    Near the Burgh, Pennsylvania
    Posts
    3,306

    Default Re: 15 Gauge VS. 16 Gauge

    Quote Originally Posted by hdrider_chgo View Post
    I'm not a fan of Paslodes. See this thread:

    http://forums.jlconline.com/forums/s...ad.php?t=49193
    HD, the gun he ask about uses air. It's not one of those cordless/hose less guns that you are referring to. If those things are not maintained they won't work very well.
    ~Kent~

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    Chicago
    Posts
    3,599

    Default Re: 15 Gauge VS. 16 Gauge

    Quote Originally Posted by Kent Brobeck View Post
    HD, the gun he ask about uses air. It's not one of those cordless/hose less guns that you are referring to. If those things are not maintained they won't work very well.
    Oops! My bad.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Location
    Near the Burgh, Pennsylvania
    Posts
    3,306

    Default Re: 15 Gauge VS. 16 Gauge

    Quote Originally Posted by hdrider_chgo View Post
    Oops! My bad.
    No worries bro, chit happens.
    ~Kent~

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Concord, CA
    Posts
    1,271

    Default Re: 15 Gauge VS. 16 Gauge

    Carapace,

    your buddy is Absolutly right. Try it for yourself and see the difference. We use 2in 18g for all trim (Base, case, crown). Doors and 1x get 2.5in 16g. I havent used my old 15g in years. Fasteners have improved so much that we can get away with smaller nails than we used to. Because they were not available along time ago. Alot of guys get stuck in old habits. Its amazing how good 18g nails hold. Just finishing a job and all the 3/4 & 5/4 VGDF we nailed with 2 in 18g and a bead of PL on the back. It did an amazing job! and the customer even thanked us for not shooting the crap out of his trim especially with 15g!! that would of looked nasty with those nail heads for this stain grade job.

    Also a good trick someone said (I think Spike) on here before was to orient the nails heads to go with the grain it makes a smaller better looking nail hole. Sounds silly but it helps.
    http://picasaweb.google.com/archmold...28238694231490

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Minneapolis, MN
    Posts
    201

    Default Re: 15 Gauge VS. 16 Gauge

    Excellent information, I appreciate the feedback fellas! I definitely agree with trying to align the nail heads with the direction of the grain.

    I am most familiar with the angled magazine of the 15 gauge, so my inclination is to go with the Paslode angled 16 gauge nailer.... Any other input there?
    ---Tom

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    PCFCA, NorCal
    Posts
    79

    Default Re: 15 Gauge VS. 16 Gauge

    Quote Originally Posted by archmolding View Post
    Carapace,

    your buddy is Absolutly right. Try it for yourself and see the difference. We use 2in 18g for all trim (Base, case, crown). Doors and 1x get 2.5in 16g. I havent used my old 15g in years. Fasteners have improved so much that we can get away with smaller nails than we used to. Because they were not available along time ago. Alot of guys get stuck in old habits. Its amazing how good 18g nails hold. Just finishing a job and all the 3/4 & 5/4 VGDF we nailed with 2 in 18g and a bead of PL on the back. It did an amazing job! and the customer even thanked us for not shooting the crap out of his trim especially with 15g!! that would of looked nasty with those nail heads for this stain grade job.

    Also a good trick someone said (I think Spike) on here before was to orient the nails heads to go with the grain it makes a smaller better looking nail hole. Sounds silly but it helps.
    http://picasaweb.google.com/archmold...28238694231490
    That's some fine looking work on your photo album. I enjoyed going through the whole thing. When I see stuff like that it makes me want to go to work.
    -Steve

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Essex, MA
    Posts
    789

    Default Re: 15 Gauge VS. 16 Gauge

    I use a 15g Senco for doors, stair treads, exterior trim and some thicker interior trim. 18g and 16g for everything else. Generally any longer fasteners into a wall with painted trim are 16g and 2' to 2-1/2"......casing, base, crown, etc.. . Casing to jamb and other wood to wood get 18g or 23g in the appropriate length.

    I use both air and paslode. I have a full line up of pneumatic tools.....23g, 18g, 16g straight and angled, 15g Senco and Bostitch. I also have Paslode in 18g, 16g straight and angled, framer and stapler. If I'm pinning mouldings prone to movement when fastening or working at an assembly station, I prefer air. When installing casing, casing units, base, crown, etc ...I prefer Paslode
    http://www.putfile.com/jeffaah/images/107329

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Essex, MA
    Posts
    789

    Default Re: 15 Gauge VS. 16 Gauge

    Quote Originally Posted by Carapace79 View Post
    my inclination is to go with the Paslode angled 16 gauge nailer.... Any other input there?
    ---Tom

    Of all my guns I use that one the most. It has never failed me. Cleaning them is not the problem that everyone makes it out to be. They are much improved from the older 16g straight nailer design
    http://www.putfile.com/jeffaah/images/107329

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    Seattle, WA
    Posts
    11,339

    Default Re: 15 Gauge VS. 16 Gauge

    I go 15g, 18g & 23g. 16g isn't enough smaller than 15g to be significant, and 16g catches grain more often in Fir; 15g is less likely to fish-hook out. If it's MDF I generally just use the 18g. If it's really nice stain grade where the client doesn't want nail holes, use an alternate method to fasten. Glue is good- and if you're using glue, don't nail as much. Heck, invest in clamps, then you won't need nails.

    For your ceiling panel install I would have used 18g pins in the corners at the most, and only to stabilize the sheet- then use a brace to hold the panel up and just use screws. No need for nails at all- they just provide for an uglier job with more problems.
    http://www.lavrans.com

    "He uses statistics as a drunken man uses lamp posts; for support rather than illumination." -Andrew Lang

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    Bergen County, NJ
    Posts
    4,410

    Default Re: 15 Gauge VS. 16 Gauge

    I have the Paslode air 16 and the gas 16.

    I like both guns, and really like the air 16. The 16 gas is finicky sometimes without rhyme or reason.

    We use 15 ga for exterior work for additional holding power when fastening manmade materials that have expansion and contraction issues.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    southeastern South Dakota
    Posts
    1,739

    Default Re: 15 Gauge VS. 16 Gauge

    I remember back when the old Senco finish nailers shot a 14 ga. nail. Here's the thing. If you don't maintain the drivers in your guns, it doesn't matter what ga. nail you're shooting. It will leave a nasty mark. A bent driver or a chipped driver will skip off the head of the nail as it sets, and leave an extra indention. A driver with the tip mushroomed from too many firings will leave a countersink hole twice the size of the nail head. And if your gun has an adjustable nose piece, make sure you set it so the nail barely countersinks in(especially in MDF). Each layer the head of the nail goes through will pucker back up over the nail head, and the more layers that pucker, the more they mushroom up. If the nose is set too deep the main body of the driver could penetrate the surface of the material, leaving a slot shaped hole that is UGULEE.
    Mark


    If I had a dollar for every time I heard someone say, "If I had a dollar for every time....", I'd be a rich man.

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