Bostitch 18-Gauge 2in1 Brad Nailer/Finish Stapler Kit Review

A good performer for intermittent small shop and job site use, with the convenience of switching between brads and staples on-the-fly.

Bostitch 18-Gauge 2in1 Brad Nailer/Finish Stapler Kit

Bostitch 18-Gauge 2in1 Brad Nailer/Finish Stapler Kit



An 18-gauge brad nailer is probably one of the most popular air tools among woodworkers. It's great for all kinds of trim work, for installing door casings, baseboards, medium crown molding, and the like – as well as for cabinet and furniture assembly. I find that it handles most of the light to medium duty fastening jobs I encounter. Occasionally I do need to shoot longer brads, and for that I use a 16-gauge finish nailer. When I want more holding power, but don't need a longer fastener – for things like attaching cabinet backs, assembling plywood cabinetry, securing underlayment for flooring, and for upholstery – I use an 18-gauge stapler. 
 
The SB2IN1 from Bostitch is a combination nailer/stapler that shoots 18-gauge fasteners. It looks to be the kind of tool that might appeal to woodworkers who are thinking of purchasing a nailer and stapler for intermittent use, or for an installer, remodeller, or finish carpenter who doesn't want to cart both types of air tools to and from job sites.
 
You can use the SB2IN1 with just about any size of compressor, as it consumes less than 2 CFM of air at 90 PSI. It shoots 18-gauge brads from 5/8" to 1-5/8" and 7/32" crown staples from 1/2" to 1-1/2".

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The SB-2IN1 Kit

The SB2IN1 comes packaged in a durable plastic case, handy for storage and protection of your investment, particularly if you tote it to and from job sites. You get a 100 pack each of 1-5/8" brads and 1" staples, along with a small container of pneumatic oil. The problem with this case is that it won't accommodate the more common 5,000 unit box of brads or the 3,000 box of staples. Still, it's much better than no case at all. And, to be fair, almost all storage cases seem to suffer from this affliction.

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L to R: 18-gauge brad, 23-gauge pin, 18-gauge 7/32" narrow crown staple, and 16-gauge 7/16" medium crown staple

If you're not familiar with brads and staples, you'll get some perspective from the photo above. An 18-gauge brad is about .080" in diameter, while a 23-gauge pin is .025" – the brad, with it's slight head, provides quite a bit more holding power. The 18-gauge staple is half the size of its larger sibling, the 16-gauge staple. A staple can be used where you require even more holding power than a brad, as long as you don't mind the more noticeable hole the staple will leave.

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Magazine holds a 100 clip of brads or staples

Similar to most 18-gauge nailers, the SB2IN1 has a 100-fastener capacity – for both brads and staples. I like that the mag is all metal, as, along with the safety (or contact) tip it's subject to the most potential damage on a nailer. In use I found the mag action very smooth – quick to open, load, and close. However, the nail view window, which lets you know when it's time to replenish with mag, is way too small. This is unfortunate, as the SB2IN1 doesn't feature a dry fire lockout, which prevents the nailer from firing when there are no nails in the magazine.

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Top-mounted 360° exhaust

All that compressed air has to go somewhere once it's driven the nail home, and preferably not in your face or on your work piece (as oil in the exhaust air can detrimentally affect the finish you apply). On the SB2IN1 the exhaust air deflector, located on the top of the piston head, rotates a convenient 360°.

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1/4" wide safety tip (no-mar tip removed)

The safety tip is about the same size you'll find on most 18-gauge nailers. It does come with a no-mar tip, which I leave on all the time as it does a good job of protecting the work surface. The SB2IN1 uses sequential firing, which means that you need to depress the safety tip onto your work, and then squeeze the trigger. It precludes double firing - inadvertently firing a second fastener into the same spot.
 
Line of sight is very good, and I found that I could easily place the fasteners right where I wanted them to go. Alignment is made easier because of the registration lines on the no-mar tip. A spare tip would have been nice, as they do eventually wear out or become lost.
 
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Depth adjustment control wheel

Just about all nailers have a drive adjustment wheel that enables you to adjust the depth at which the fasteners are set – flush, just shy of the surface, or buried out of sight. The wheel on the SB2IN1 is somewhat on the small size, making it a tad awkward to turn.

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Top to bottom: 70 PSI with depth wheel set at mid-point; 70 PSI with depth wheel set to maximum; 100 PSI with depth wheel set to maximum
 
The SB2IN1 operates from 70 to 100 PSI. On solid hard wood, at 70 PSI, and with the depth adjustment wheel turned to the mid-point, the gun won't fully sink brads or staples. Rotating the adjustment wheel to the maximum setting results in brads being set flush to the surface, though staples still sit proud. Increasing the air pressure to 100 PSI doesn't cause the brads to be sunk that much deeper,though it does sink the staples flush to the surface. On softer woods and plywood, fastener penetration is somewhat better. This will only be an issue if you need to sink fasteners below the surface so that you can cover the voids, which, fortunately, isn't necessary for most assembly work.

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Removing a jammed fastener requires removing safety and driver covers

Over the three weeks I used the SB2IN1 it never jammed. Which is fortunate, as this nailer doesn't feature a quick release nose cover. Instead you have to remove three screws, the safety (or nose) cover, and the driver cover before you can extract the errant fastener.

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A convenient dual purpose air tool
 
What I like best about the Bostitch SB2IN1 is the sequential fire mode, which makes it easier not to double fire, good sight line, decent length of fasteners it uses, light weight, all-metal magazine, and generous 7-year warranty. And, most importantly, it never jammed.
 
The SB2IN1 would be an even better tool if it had dry a dry fire lockout, a larger window on the magazine, a quick release nose for clearing potential fastener jams, and a more efficient depth guide. 

If you can live with these deficiencies, then there really is no reason to shy away from the SB2IN1.

KEY FEATURES

  • Dimensions: 8-1/2" H x 9-1/4" L x 2" W
  • Weight: 2 pounds
  • Fastener Range: 5/8" to 1-5/8" 18 gauge brads; 1/2" to 1-1/2" 18 gauge staples
  • Capacity: 100 staples or 100 brads
  • Operating Pressure: 70 to 100 PSI
  • Top mounted 360° exhaust
  • Adjustable depth guide
  • Warranty: 7 years
  • Includes: 1/4" air fitting, 100 staples, 100 brads, carrying case

COMPANY:Bostitch
MODEL:SB2IN1
PRICE:$149.00
MADE IN:China
SOURCE:Retailer Locator
May 2015

Author: 
Carl Duguay
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