Few things compare to the sheer visceral pleasure of sinking a nail several inches into solid hardwood with the slightest curl of the index finger. Pneumatic nailers have a way of imbuing the user with power – increased by orders of magnitude – that few other tools can mimic. Sure, it’s a simple pleasure. But, as Ockham explained, the best solution is often the simplest one. What William of Ockham was to philosophy, Senco is to the world of making pieces of metal wire go into pieces of wood. The Senco FinishPro 18BMg 18 gauge brad nailer was sent to us by our friends at Senco to evaluate. And I’m just simple enough to put their “razor” to the test.
All in Favor, Say Eye
Ok, I’m just going to go ahead and dispense this criticism right up front so we can move on to the good stuff. The first thing I noticed when I opened the case was the beautiful sight of a Senco nailer. I’m not gonna lie, I’m fond of Senco. They generally make some pretty great tools. And this one is no exception.
But the second thing I noticed was the safety glasses they include, presumably to “provide added value”. Now I realize that you’re buying the tool and not the safety glasses but, come on guys, the included safety glasses – and I use “safety” in the loosest possible sense here – are what you might call disposable, as in: one should dispose of them from the get go.
They may be acceptable if bare eyes is your only alternative. Nay, I say! Buy and use some decent safety glasses when working with any pneumatic nailer or other power tool. Your eyes are too important to auction off to the lowest bidder.
And Now The Good Stuff – Senco FinishPro 18BMg Review
With the “safety glasses” safely disposed of in the rubbish bin (and replaced with more serious eye protection), let’s address the tool itself. This baby met or exceeded all expectations with regards to the 3 F’s (that I just made up): form, features and function.
The rubber grip is perfectly sized and feels great in the hand. The wide ergonomic trigger cradles your finger in comfort with little chance of blister induction, even after hours of continuous use. And the lightweight magnesium body gives your arm a much deserved break from those 5 pound monsters out there on the market. The weight advantage comes without compromising durability.
18 Gauge Brad Strips – Gets Nailed
The brads come in strips of 100. This nailer handles fasteners from 5/8 to 2-1/8 inches in length, making the tool useful for a wide variety of jobs. During my testing, I ran through 400 each of 1-1/4” and 2” with zero jams or misfires.
Locked And Loaded
The rail that holds the fasteners is made of what appears to me to be that durable fiber reinforced plastic, cutting down on weight while warding off cracks and breakage. Loading brads into the rail is a super fast process that takes only a few seconds.
Senco FinishPro 18BMg 18 Gauge Gets You Out Of A Jam
Even though I had no jams in 800 nail firings, it’s nice to know just how easy it would be to clear a jam, should one occur. I have a no-name pin nailer in my shop that requires pulling a pair of allen bolts to clear a jam. And let me tell you – even though it’s rarely an issue – it’s a serious pain to deal with.
The Senco FinishPro 18BMg, on the other hand, would actually be a pleasure to clear a jam from. Just pull on the levered lock and the entire front end opens up. It can’t get any easier than that. I know there are other nailers on the market that use a similar method, but it’s a solution I genuinely appreciate. And you will too.
Senco FinishPro 18BMg Blowhard
The Senco FinishPro 18BMg is rated to operate at 70-120 psi. Out of habit, I just went ahead and set my regulator to 100 pounds and went to town with the 1-1/4” brads. For 2” brads, I bumped it up to 105.
Even with my dinky 6 gallon pancake, I was consistently sinking 29-35 brad’s before the compressor kicked in. Considering most of my projects require fewer than that, I was quite pleased with the efficiency. With a “real” compressor you can expect many more triggers pulls per tank charge.
The tool features a swiveling air intake for ease of use and an adjustable exhaust vent and belt clip.
The FinishPro 18BMg has two firing modes: Sequential Actuation and Contact Actuation. The former is the standard firing mode, where you must first make contact with the workpiece then pull the trigger. Use this mode when you want precise control over where the brad ends up.
In contact mode, you can hold the trigger and bump the work piece to fire (one shot per bump). This mode is best for when you need to fire a lot of fasteners but exact placement is not quite as important.
The tool has very low recoil. But if you’re careless in contact mode (bump fire) it can bounce and fire off a second shot. With a couple minutes of practice you’ll get the feel for it and this will become a rare mistake.
A Shot In The Dark
It seems like you can’t swing a dead cat* in the home center these days without hitting a hundred tools gratuitously sporting LED lights. I’m not sure what possessed Senco to go with yellow. But there it is, in all its glory. Who said you can’t operate dangerous tools in the dark?
* Public service announcement: don’t swing dead cats.
Hey Mom; Look What I Can Do!
Enough talk already; Let’s see what this thing can do. My first 400 test fires were using 1-1/4” long brads. MFD, plywood, solid oak: it didn’t matter one bit. The tool had absolutely no problem sinking the brads with a satisfying “Pfffftt”.
Depending on the material and fastener length, you may need to adjust the depth to get the head of the brad to seat slightly below the surface of your work piece. This can be done by either varying the air pressure at your compressor or tweaking the depth adjustment thumb wheel near the trigger.
Senco FinishPro 18 Gauge Upping The Game
Once I had my fun with the 1-1/4” brads I stepped up to the 2 inchers I’d purchased. I also bumped the compressor regulator up to 105 psi. As with the shorter ones, the 2” brads penetrated the hard white oak like butter.
Senco FinishPro 18BMg – Nails It!
In my own woodworking shop, I sometimes use brads as clamps to hold pieces securely while the glue dries. It’s a great way to move forward with a project when traditional clamping is either too clumsy or just creates too much down time. However, this tool is equally suited for the construction worker or home remodeler. Whether you’re installing moulding, baseboards, chair rails or building cabinetry, furniture or other woodcraft projects, the FinishPro has you covered. No matter how gentle or aggressive your needs, it can handle it.
Would I recommend the Senco FinishPro 18BMg Brad Nailer? You betcha’! I did have a little fun at Senco’s expense, but in fairness some eye protection is better than none. But the truth is I’ve had a very positive experience with this finish nailer. Plus, it’s virtually maintenance-free, requiring no oil! Gone are the days of having your work piece tainted by randomly sprayed oil that prevents finish from properly adhering.
With such high performance and an MSRP of only $79.99, it’s a real steal. Even after tossing those worthless safety glasses.
Click here to find your nearest Senco distributor. Or you can get one from Amazon for around $70: