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Angled vs Straight Finish Nailers: Which is Best for Your Needs?

Last Updated on April 12, 2020

Angled vs Straight Finish Nailers - Which is Best for Your Needs

If you’re in the market for a new finish nailer, then you’ve probably faced a decision between a straight and an angled finish nailer. While they generally serve the same purpose, the differences between the models can change the situations in which they work best. So, we’ve prepared a comparison of the two types of nailer, so that you can choose the one that works best for you.

Angled Finish Nailer

If you’re working in tight spaces, you should check out the angled finish nailer. It still drives nails straight into the wood at the same angle as a straight finish nailer. The “angle” in its name instead refers to the magazine. Instead of running down from the part of the nailer that fires the nail into the wood at a 90-degree angle, it angles back towards your hand, which makes it shorter and more versatile.

Finish nailers can come with a variety of angles; typically, somewhere between 21 and 34 degrees, depending on the model. The different angles mean that you must get the right kind of nails for your nailer since the shape of the magazine requires a different nail configuration to work properly.

Our Favorite Angled Finish Nailer:

Hitachi NT65MA4 1-1/4 Inch to 2-1/2 Inch 15-Gauge...
429 Customer Reviews
Hitachi NT65MA4 1-1/4 Inch to 2-1/2 Inch 15-Gauge...
  • Hitachi Power Tools has renamed to Metabo HPT. Same great tools, with only a new name.
  • Integrated air duster can be used to clear away dust and debris from the work surface in preparation...
  • Tool less, easy to clear nose for quick nail extraction should a nail jam during use

Angled finish nailers typically use thicker nails, which are more expensive and harder to find. However, they can support more weight. While those thicker nails might be unsightly compared to those on a straight finish nailer, the angled finish nailer is designed for use in tight spaces, which generally aren’t places that people can see.

Overall, the angled finish nailer uses bigger nails and is appropriate for larger tasks, but where it excels is in its ability to fit into tight spaces. While its nails are a bit more expensive and harder to find, they make up for it in increased holding power.

  • Good for tight spaces
  • Smaller tool
  • Bigger nails
  • More expensive nails
  • Harder-to-find nails

Straight Finish Nailer

Straight finish nailers feature a magazine that is a 90-degree angle relative to the tool. This means that they sometimes have a larger magazine than a comparable angled model, but this is something that varies from model-to-model. Because they aren’t angled, they don’t work as well in tight spaces.

However, they do use a smaller nail, which has a smaller head and is going to be less noticeable. And since the nail is smaller and comes at a standard angle, it is generally much easier to find them at your local stores. They also tend to be somewhat cheaper.

Our Favorite Straight Finish Nailer:

DEWALT Finish Nailer, 16GA, 1-Inch to 2-1/2-Inch...
215 Customer Reviews
DEWALT Finish Nailer, 16GA, 1-Inch to 2-1/2-Inch...
  • Sealed lube dual tech: motor works as an oil free and oil lube unit.
  • Tool-free features: adjustable belt hook, nail depth adjustment, jam clearing, 360 degree exhaust
  • Uses 1-inch to 2-1/2-inch (25.4 milimeter-65 milimeter) 16 gauge straight collated nails,

One of the biggest upsides to the straight finish nailer is that they tend to be significantly cheaper to buy than angled nailers. Given the lower starting price and the lower cost of nails, you’re looking at a much lower cost of operation over the lifetime of the tool. If you don’t need to nail in tight spaces, you can save a lot of money and miss out on almost nothing by purchasing a straight finish nailer.

Overall, straight finish nailers are best for people who are cost-conscious and make for an especially good buy if you’re not going to need to work in tight spaces.

  • Easy to find nails
  • Cheaper nails
  • Cheaper
  • Less maneuverable


Angled finish nailers are generally more versatile than straight nailers, and since they also use thicker nails that can hold more weight, are the better buy in most circumstances. However, if you’re not going to be working in a lot of tight spaces, you lose a lot of the value from an angled finish nailer. So, if you’re looking for a cheaper upfront cost, lower cost of operation and don’t need to work in tight spaces, then the straight nailer will be a good choice.

Here are some more posts related to finishing nailers:

About the Author Adam Harris

Hi there! My name is Adam and I write for HealthyHandyman. I have a great passion for writing about everything related to tools, home improvement, and DIY. In my spare time, I'm either fishing, playing the guitar, or spending quality time with my beloved wife. You'll also often find me in my workshop working on some new project!