The 5 Best Nail Guns for Crown Molding [Updated July 2020]
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Construction is a precise job and requires specific tools. Without the right tools, there are some projects you can’t even get started on.
Installing crown moldings can be a precise job and so require similarly suited tools. If you are uneducated about such manners, then finding the right nail gun for crown molding installations can be hard. The sheer number of options, products, and features makes the decision difficult.
We put together this list of the best nail guns for crown molding to help narrow down your choice. We will also cover some important features to consider when looking for a crown molding nail gun.
The Hitachi NT65MA4 is an excellent finish nailer that is a good all-around tool to have in your arsenal. The Hitachi looks great, is solidly built and has a useful angled applicator tip that makes precise shots easy to line up. The Hitachi runs on compressed air and operates between 70-120 psi of pressure.
One great feature of the NT65MA4 is the actuation that lets you switch between contact-fire and sequential-fire modes. This is a useful feature in case you need to slow down and add more detail to finishes. It also has a 360-degree adjustable exhaust valve, which is useful for working in dusty spaces.
Why we like it
The Hitachi NT65MA4 is a good pneumatic nail gun that can handle a lot of different jobs. It fires precisely, is made of lightweight aluminum, and comes with an extremely generous 5-year warranty.
The Porter-Cable PC790LA Cordless Brad Nailer is an electric nailer with a reliable engine and good quality-of-life features that make it very accessible. The PCC790LA does not require a compressor to run and instead uses a powerful 1.5Ah lithium-ion battery. Each battery charge can get off about 1,300 nails.
The PCC790LA has good adjustability options. The depth of drive is adjusted using a simple dial and it has a tool-free release lever that lets you check the firing chamber to remove jammed nails. The PCC790LA uses ⅝”-2” nails and the magazine holds 100 nails.
Why we like it
The Porter-Cable PCC790LA is a competent cordless brad nailer that is suitable for crown molding. It has several adjustment and quality features that make it easy to use for both novices and professionals. It makes a smart choice for most small- to mid-intensity home projects.
Up next is the Dewalt CDN680B Brad Nailer. The CDN680B has Dewalt’s trademark quality and is a powerful cordless brad nailer for home use. The CDN680B runs using a standard 1.5Ah lithium-ion battery and utilizes a powerful brushless motor. There is also the option to upgrade to a more powerful 4.0Ah battery.
The Dewalt has a unique micro-nose construction that improves line-of-sight and makes placing shots feel more natural. Dewalt tools use interchangeable batteries so you can use any 20V battery from their tools to power the CDN680B.
The CDN680B also has an adjustable depth of drive and an auto-shutoff mechanism that turns the tool off when the battery is too low. This feature prevents excessive battery discharge.
Why we like it
The Dewalt is a powerful cordless nail gun that is ideal for crown molds, baseboards, and other medium-intensity installations in the home. It has interchangeable batteries, and the brushless motor is reliable and efficient.
The Bostitch N62FNK2 is a pneumatic finish nailer that has great accessibility features and consistent performance. It’s a good gun for both crown moldings and adding more delicate finishes on carpentry projects. The Bostitch only weighs 3.8 pounds which makes it extremely comfortable to use for extended periods.
The N62FNK2’s magazine holds 100 15-gauge nails and has an operating pressure between 70-120 psi. The oil-free design means it has low maintenance costs and the magnesium-alloy frame gives it suitably lightweight and good shock absorption properties. The depth of drive is adjustable within a 1 ½” range and it comes with an extremely generous 7-year warranty.
Why we like it
The Bostitch N62FNK is a decent entry-level crown molding nail gun that can be used for home projects. It is light, durable, has consistent pneumatic performance, and is very reasonably priced. It makes a good first nail gun or a spare.
The Makita AF5050N is a suitable tool for small-scale carpentry and woodworking applications. This pneumatic gun has a narrow-nose design that improves the line of sight, while the no-mar rubber tip prevents scratches on wood surfaces.
The Makita also has a tool-less depth of drive adjustment dial and a tool-less adjustable exhaust port. These two features allow you to change the depth of drive and exhaust direction without the need for special tools, like a hex wrench. The tool grip is 180-degrees adjustable so it’s easy to fit into tight spaces.
One last great feature of the AF5050N is the quick-release nail guide assembly. This feature gives you direct access to the magazine so you can clear any jammed nails.
Why we like it
The AF5050N is a fantastic lightweight brad nailer that is easy to use and features good adjustability options. The frame is durable, you can adjust the exhaust port 360-degrees, and the micro-nose construction keeps nail alignment precise and reliable. There is also a quick release valve so you can clean jams without having to stop and remove the entire magazine.
Crown Molding Nail Gun Buying Guide
Nail guns are used for a wide range of applications and so come in a similarly wide range of styles. You need to find a gun with the right specs and operation for your intended project. When looking for a nail gun for crown molding, keep the following features/considerations in mind.
Nail gun type
There are several types of nail guns that are suited for different purposes. Crown molding requires delicate nail placement so you need a comparably smaller-scale nail gun. Based on our expertise, there are three main nail gun types you should focus your research on: finish nailers, brad nailers, and pin nailers.
Finish nailers use 15-16 gauge nails. They are the strongest of the three kinds. Finish nailers are typically small as far as nail guns go and allow for precise nail placements. Crown molding is fairly thick so the ideal gun needs slightly larger nails.
Brad nailers are very similar to finish nailers and typically use 18-gauge nails. Brad nailers are still relatively strong, but weaker than finish nailers. If you cannot find a decent finish nailer to your liking, then a brad nailer should be suitable for most projects.
Lastly are pin nailers. Pin nailers are the smallest of the three and usually shoot little 22-23-gauge nails. Generally, pin nailers are not suitable for crown molding. The nails are just too small to get a strong connection. However, they may have some special applications for putting on finishing touches or getting into awkward spaces such as corners. The effectiveness of pin nailers can be increased by also using crown molding glue.
Cordless or Pneumatic?
There is a debate among contractors over which is superior; cordless or pneumatic nailers. Pneumatic nailers are generally the standard option and run using air power. Pneumatic guns are powerful, precise, very lightweight, and generally more consistent. Keep in mind that you need a separate air compressor to work a pneumatic air gun.
Cordless nail guns are electric and run on batteries. The portability and ease of use are some advantages cordless guns have over pneumatic guns, but they tend to be less consistent and less powerful. The upshot of cordless nailers is that they have relatively few moving parts, and so are not as prone to jams and mechanical failures. You may also have to buy the battery and charger separately, which is an extra expense.
There are also gas-powered nail guns, but these are relatively uncommon in finishing nailer models. Gas-powered nail guns are uncommon because the oil and fuel can be messy and expensive. Gas-powered guns can also give off fumes, which is bad if you are working inside.
Crown molding is typically installed at the intersection of walls and ceilings. That means that you generally have to place nails at an angle. A good nail gun for crown molding will have an angled tip that allows you to line up the shot as precisely as possible without the gun itself getting in the way. Angled nailing guns usually measure between 21-34 degrees. That gives you enough space to get as close as possible to corners.
Two main adjustment features you should keep an eye out for are depth of drive and exhaust vents. The “depth of drive” refers to how deep the gun drives nails. Different materials will require a different depth of drive to ensure a secure fastening. Try to find a “tool-less” adjustable depth of drive. That way you don’t need a special tool to make adjustments.
Adjustable exhaust vents let you change the direction air is expelled. These are a good feature if you are working in spaces with a lot of dust or debris.
Installing crown molds can take a while. That is why you need a light nailer that you can hold for a long time without fatigue. In our estimation, the ideal nailer for crown molding weighs around 3-5 pounds.
It is also important to consider the material the gun is made of. We have found that the best nailers are made from lightweight yet sturdy materials, like aluminum or magnesium. The key detail is that the construction material is light and minimizes vibrations. Otherwise, it will be more difficult to keep shots aligned.
Nail guns can sometimes get jammed. This happens when a nail becomes unaligned with the rest of the magazine and firing chamber. A good nail gun will have some kind of release valve or panel that lets you access and clear jams without too much effort. This feature can save time over removing the magazine and fishing out the jam yourself.
Make sure you understand the warranty policy of the tool you buy. Sometimes different parts of nail guns have different warranty coverages. For instance, the frame may have a 5-year warranty but the components and hardware could only have a 1-year warranty. Ideally, you will never have to invoke a warranty policy, but it’s a good idea to have a contingency plan.
Our top pick for the best nail gun for crown molding is the Hitachi MT65MA4. The MT65MA4 has the ideal mix of power and finesse you want out of a crown molding nail gun. It is lightweight, has good adjustment options, and has a useful angled nozzle that makes lining up shots in corners precise and reliable. The Hitachi is the ideal tool for crown moldings, trimmings, baseboard finishings, and more.
You need the right kind of nail gun to be as effective as possible with your projects. Crown molding guns are designed to fit this niche. If you are looking for a suitable crown molding gun, then this guide will give you a starting point on your search.
I have an unhealthy obsession with contracting and renovation. I’ve been a contractor for over 15 years and I love tackling challenging projects to make them look amazing.