Angled vs Straight Nailers – What is Best to Use?

When you’re in the market for a nail gun, there are a lot of decisions to make.

One of the choices you might have to make is whether or not you want an angled or straight nailer – and the answer may not be obvious.

So, let’s look at the differences between the two and why you might prefer one over another.

What Types of Nailers Come in Angled and Straight Options?

This isn’t a decision that you’ll have to make with most nailers.

The only two types that come in both straight and angled versions, which are finishing nailers and framing nailers.

Just a quick recap, finishing nailers are used when installing things like baseboards or crown molding. They use headless nails and are sunk all the way into the wood so there are no nail-heads sticking up on a finished surface.

While framing nailers are used in larger projects, like building a deck or framing a house. Framing nailers are usually considered to be the most heavy duty nailing gun available.

What’s the Difference?

Obviously, the shape is the main difference. These nail guns get their shapes from the angle of the magazine.

Why does that matter?

Imagine you’re holding a nail gun in your hand with the tip facing downward, parallel to the ground. A straight nailer is shaped like an L, with the nail chamber extending from the gun and staying parallel to the ground.

On the other hand, an angled nailer has a nail chamber that comes up at an angle. There’s some variation in the degree of this angle depending on the kind of nail gun you’re looking at.

Framing nailers are actually available in different sized angles: 21, 28, 30, and 34 degrees. The higher the number, the sharper the angle, the more room you save.

It’s important to remember that the angle doesn’t affect the angle that the nail is going to enter the wood. As long as you hold the tip flush with the surface, the nail gun will put it into the wood at a perpendicular angle.

These guns are angled exclusively to save space and make them more versatile.

It might seem like this is a simple difference but whether a nail gun is straight or angled really affects what it’s used for.

Angled Nailers

Angled nailers sometimes use heavier gauged nails which are a bit tougher and designed to work in tight spaces.

That means that the nails will be hidden so it doesn’t matter as much if there’s a visible nail head on the surface.

Remember, the steeper the angle, the more space you save.

Nails for an angled nail gun are a little larger, primarily because the magazine’s design allows them to hold larger nails and shoot them into the wood more effectively.

Nails for an angled nailer are often more expensive and not as easy to find as those for the straight nailer.


  • Ideal for cabinet making
  • Able to work around doors, corners, and walls when installing trim, paneling, etc.
  • Fits into tight spaces


  • Nails harder to find and a little more expensive

Straight Nailers

Straight nailers use nails that are a little thinner and so the nail head isn’t as visible. It’s tough to fit them into tighter spots so they’re mostly used in places where the surface is visible in plain sight.

They’re not as precise and agile as angled nailers, but they’re great for basic building and framing.


  • Great for simple, straightforward construction and framing
  • Smaller nail holes are easier to hide
  • A little less expensive


  • Bulkier
  • Don’t fit into tight spaces

The Best One for the Job

There’s not right or wrong answer when it comes to angled versus straight nailers.

Like so many other things, it mostly depends on how you’re going to use it.

If you need to get into tight spaces and have a little more control over where you’re driving the nail, and angled nailer is the better choice.

But, if you’re building larger projects and aren’t so concerned with small spaces, corners, and edges, a straight nailer does a great job.

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