Nail Sizes for Different Woodwork Projects

September 18, 2022

Woodworker choosing the correct nail size for his project.

A question I get asked more often by newbies in woodworking is about which nail size they should use for a specific woodworking project. This question, of course, seems to be very basic, and anyone seems to be intuitively capable of reasonably answering this question. Yet, many beginners in woodworking messed up their home projects because they failed to use the appropriate nail sizes for their projects. As such, it is not superfluous to point out that knowledge of which nail size to use for a project is crucial to its success.

It will be good to note that each nail you use for furniture or home building comes with its specific application. Thus, you must select the appropriate nail for a project for better and stronger nail holding power on the materials. Remember that nails get designed for their intended usage and the materials they fasten. As such, your choice of nails can make so much difference in the success and failure of your projects.

What Size Nails for Quarter Round?

When installing quarter round, it will be best to use finish nails. The reason is that the quarter round is a finish trim, so it demands the use of finish nails. Finish nails come with smaller heads, and you can use a finish nail gun to install the quarter round. You can equip your finish nail gun with 1.5-inch to 2-inch finish nails. Of course, you can also use the traditional hammer to drive these finish nails. 

You can utilize finish nails to penetrate the quarter-round molding’s thickness. The pin should also penetrate the drywall at least 1/2″ into the base plate of the wall. You should also space the nails by 18 inches when installing 3/4-inch molding. 

You might ask if you can glue the quarter round. Well, the answer is you should nail the quarter-round molding to the baseboards. Remember that quarter-round moldings absorb foot impact and furniture legs. So, there will be a time when you need to replace them. Thus, gluing them isn’t a good idea if you would replace them sometime in the future.

What Size Nails for Shoe Molding?

When installing shoe molding, you can use brads or smaller 18GA nails with a maximum length of 2 inches long. Brad nails feature a thinner diameter and leave tiny holes than the ordinary finishing nails. Besides, they would not likely split narrow moldings and trims. Thus, the brad nails are excellent options for shoe molding.

What Size Nails for Door Trim?

When installing door trim, you can use 15GA nails with length ranging from 1-1/4″ to 2-1/2.” These nails will be robust enough for securing door jambs and heavy trim materials. Besides, the 15-gauge nailers permit angled driving of nails because of their angled nose, making nail driving easier.

What Size Nails for Trim?

You can fasten the moldings using power nailers or brad nailers. Nevertheless, it will be best to refrain from using nails beyond two inches in size. The reason for this is that you might not be familiar with your home’s electrical wirings. So, chances are, you might accidentally hit one of those embedded wires and get the shock of your life. You can use 1-1/2″ brad nails to install baseboards using brad nailers.

Moreover, you might ask which finish nails you should use for trim. Well, you should use finish nails like those of the 15GA and 16GA finish nails. 

The smallest nailer you can use is the 23-gauge nailer, also referred to as a micro-pinner or pinner. You can also use this nailer to nail 3/4″ thick trim and baseboard.

Can You Use Brad Nails for Baseboards?

Yes, you can use the 18GA nails for baseboards, door, window casing, chair rail, door frames, and crown molding. However, you can also use the 15GA nails when nailing in tight spaces. The reason is that they got angled collation. 

What Nailer Should You Use for Trim?

You can use a 16-gauge nail gun for installing trim. Of course, the 16GA nails they drive are thinner than the 15GA nails. Compared to the 15GA nailers, they are less likely to damage or split thin wood pieces.  


If you’re an experienced woodworker, you will perfectly know the issues that come from using the wrong sizes of nails. For example, if the nail is too short, it will not secure the materials properly. It will penetrate beyond what you want the nails to reach and might ruin your project or hit wiring or plumbing if it is too long. Thus, knowing the nail sizes appropriate for your projects is crucial to the success of your projects. 

The rule of thumb when nailing something is that the nail length should be three times the thickness of the material. Such a thickness is perfect for securing materials together. So, take to heart this rule of thumb to ensure that you will never go awry with your projects.

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