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I have a cheap Harbor Freight brad nailer and it does a great job of fastening my window trim and baseboard molding/etc. The only thing I don't like about it is that the point of contact is metal.

On multiple home improvement shows I see them attaching baseboard with a nailer that has a nice rubber boot (not just one of those crappy cover things that fall off). Awesome. However, these nailers are also mysteriously gigantic - I have no idea what they are - they appear to be larger than a framing nailer. I have also never seen one at HD/Lowes. What are these things?

And, regardless of whether or not the mystery humongous nailer is the answer - what's the best way to obtain a nicely-protected contact surface for trim work?

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    I find myself wondering whether just shooting the nails through a piece of thin cardboard would solve the problem, assuming they're driven deeply enough that you can spare the fraction of an inch. – keshlam Sep 18 '14 at 3:19
  • It could have been a cordless trim nailer. Those have significantly more bulk than a pneumatic one, since they have to have room for a gas cartridge and piston, or a big battery and motor. – Doresoom Dec 17 '14 at 15:13
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The "mysteriously gigantic" nailers are probably 15 gauge trim nailers similar to this one:

enter image description here

Sounds like the one that you have is a finish nailer, and is likely a smaller gauge and uses nails with smaller heads. Thus less driving power required and a smaller gun. A trim nailer will generally give you better holding power, but also higher possibility of splitting wood, especially thinner stock.

Assuming the nailer you have is working for what you're using it for and can use long enough nails, I don't see any reason to stop using it - I've trimmed with a finish nailer before without issues.

As far as your metal tip goes, I would doubt you'll be able to find one from the manufacturer for a cheap Harbor Freight gun. One thing I've done in the past when I've lost mine or broken it is to lightly dip the tip in Plasti-Dip (the rubberized tool handle coating stuff). Just make sure that it doesn't interfere with the action of the gun at all 1/16 - 1/8 inch is plenty.

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If you're good with a torch, you could braze yourself up a flat foot for that loopy safety thing on the brad nailer - I know that little booger, and how it dents softwoods like crazy.

An alternative is to carry a flexible 1-1/2" putty knife around with you and buffer under the safety loop with it. TRY NOT to nail through the putty knife, though. 8)

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enter image description here

Finish Nail Gun, (what you're after) missing the rubber boot it comes with. Still acceptable for all but the softest wood. This is a wear item and easily replaced, or not. I find it better without it. Perhaps remove it right off the bat and save it for wood that really needs it, so it doesn't get abused. Footless, this is still better than the safety 'blade' on brad nailers.


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Framing Nailer


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Brad, Framing and Finnish Nailers


Notice how none of these pictures is of a Harbor Freight tool.

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    Are the Finnish nailers only sold on the Scandanavian Peninsula? :) – Doresoom Dec 17 '14 at 15:07
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You could also use an old credit card or a piece of plastic and nail through the plastic to prevent damage to the wood.

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