I prefer to use cut nails in reproduction work because they hold better and look right to my eye.
But when it comes to cut headless brads, which are used to hold moulding in place while the glue dries, I don’t think these nails are the right choice for me.
While cut nails are always more expensive than the equivalent wire nail, cut headless brads are crazy expensive. A 1 lb. box of the 4d nails that contains 576 nails costs $55.10, just less than a dime a nail. That might not seem expensive until you have to buy several boxes in a year (I do).
Compare that to the equivalent 18-gauge nail. You can easily get 1,000 nails for $4.72 – less than half a penny per nail.
Wait, but don’t the 18-gauge nails look different than the cut headless brads? Yes, when sitting on the bench. But when the nails are sunk in the work, they both display an identical square head (see above). It is almost impossible to tell the difference.
Wait again. Don’t the cut headless brads hold better? Maybe. But it’s irrelevant when applying mouldings. The brad’s job is to be a clamp only. Once the glue is dry it is just a piece of metal in a piece of wood.
If you’re a purist, feel free to scoff and use the cut headless brads. I’m going to use my 18-gauge brad nailer and use the money I saved to buy some more beer.
— Christopher Schwarz