Senco 23 Gauge FinishPro Micro Pinner Review

The perfect tool for precision fastening small or delicate material.


Senco 23 Gauge FinishPro Micro Pinner

Whether you make cabinetry or furniture, do finish carpentry or home renovations, you'll do well to have at least two pneumatic fasteners on hand  an 18 gauge brad or 16 gauge finish nailer, and a 23 gauge headless pin nailer (aka, a 'pinner'). Where holding power is of paramount importance, for example, when installing baseboards, crown molding, chair rails, door and window casings, or door frames, a brad or finish nailer is the tool to use. However, for precision fastening small or delicate material, where you want nearly invisible holes and no chance of splitting the material, nothing beats a pinner.

One of my favourite uses for a pinner is holding stock together during glue-up. Invariably, when you begin applying clamping pressure the pieces begin to shift slightly. Pinning the pieces together before applying the clamps does a really good job of keeping the pieces from sliding around. Plus, the pin holes will be nearly invisible. Likewise, I use a pinner, rather than tape, for attaching narrow edge trim on panels. You'll still want to use glue, but the pins will provide enough pressure so that, in most cases, you can dispense with clamps. In fact, you can use pins in most situations where you would use tape to hold small stock during glue-up. I also use a pinner in place of double sided tape when making templates. The pins hold the template firmly in place, yet the two pieces can be separated later on.

18 gauge nail holes (L) are much larger than 23 gauge pin holes (R)

One major difference between pinners and brad or finish nailers is the size of the fasteners. A 23 gauge headless pin has a diameter of 1/64", while an 18 gauge brad nail has a diameter of 3/64", three times larger. The brad nail will, of course, deliver greater holding power, while the pin will leave a significantly smaller hole. 

Nose of an 18 gauge brad nailer (L) compared to a 23 gauge pinner (R)

In contrast to larger nailers, you'll find that pinners have a smaller nose piece, which makes it much easier to position the pin exactly where you want it to go. You'll also notice that there is no contact safety on the pinner, as there is on the brad nailer, to obscure your vision.

The Senco FinishPro 23LXP
Senco has recently upgraded it's popular line of FinishPro micro pinners to include new performance enhancing features. The FinishPro 10 is replaced by the FinishPro 23SXP ($159), while the FinishPro 11 is replaced by the FinishPro 23LXP ($229), which I look at in this review. The major difference between these two new pinners is that the 23LXP takes fasteners up to 2" long (versus 1-3/8" for the 23SXP).

The 23LXP is exceptionally well made, with few plastic parts. The body is made of aluminum cast alloy, which provides a high strength to weight ratio, good dimensional stability, and high corrosion, impact and dent resistance. This means you get a light tool (2 pounds, 13 ounces) that can easily withstand the rigors of shop or job site use, day-in, day-out. And, it doesn't use much air (only 1.1 SCFM). While you can run the 23LXP from 60 to 110 PSI I found that at 90 PSI I could easily sink the longest pins in hardwood. 

The driver blade, which rides up and down in the air cylinder, is subject to a lot of compressive force. For maximum strength and long life, the driver is made of hardened alloy steel. 

The sliding magazine is made of a hard anodized extruded aluminum, while the fixed magazine base, which generally takes the brunt of bumps and knocks, is made of stamped steel. Likewise, the nose plate, main trigger, safety secondary trigger, and the lockout override are also made of steel.

The FinishPro 11 had a standard 90-degree handle. The updated 23LXP has an angled handle that is designed to generate less wrist fatigue - a boon for anyone working in a production environment. I quite like this handle, finding that it provides a more comfortable, natural grip.

The 23LXP also features a reversible belt hook. If you use the pinner exclusively in the shop, then you can remove the hook; otherwise, it's a very convenient feature to have on a job site. You won't have to worry about loosing little parts - there is onboard storage for both a spare no-mar pad and the jam clearing wrench. To protect your investment and make it easier to transport to and from a job site, the 23LXP comes with a sturdy carry case.

Easy load magazine with status window

With the 23LXP you can shoot pins from 1/2" all the way up to 2"The magazine holds a standard clip of 100 pins. I found the magazine to be quick and easy to load, and a wide status window lets you know when you're about to run out of pins.

Lockout override enables you to shoot the last few pins

Even if you don't notice when the magazine is almost empty, the 23LXP features a pin lockout - when there is only three or four nails left in the magazine, the driver will stop firing. This prevents dry firing, which can damage the internal components of the pinner. However, if you only need to shoot a few more pins to finish the job, there is a lockout override on the side of the pinner. Simply hold down the override button, and fire the last few pins.

Safety secondary trigger means no errant shots

There is no contact safety feature as you'll find on brad and finish nailers. What the 23LXP does have is a double-trigger safety system. You have to pull the secondary (safety) trigger clear of the firing trigger before you can depress the firing trigger. Each time you pull the firing trigger it shoots a pin - there doesn't have to be any contact with the workpiece.

If you've never used a pinner before, you'll need to get into the habit of putting the tip on the workpiece and then pulling the firing trigger. When you release the secondary trigger it resets itself, preventing the firing trigger from being depressed. I like the double trigger system and find it pretty intuitive. I also think that it reduces the chances of double-firing. You can't bump fire the pinner as you can a brad nailer, but you can shoot pins as fast as you can pull the trigger.

Quick nose removal for clearing jammed nails

Over the 4 week period I used this tool it never jammed. But, if a pin does jam, you don't need to remove the nose plate - just loosen the bolts with the Allen key (conveniently stored on the back of the pinner) and lift the plate off. It takes all of 30 seconds.

Rear exhaust with embedded muffler and swivel air coupler

The 23LXP has a very effective rear exhaust with an embedded muffler that forces air away from the work surface and also helps to reduce noise. It also comes equipped with a 1/4 NPT swivel air intake that I find helps to keep the air hose from coiling all over the place. Practical and thoughtful. The 23LXP is quite in use, and unless you have a really loud compressor that recycles often, you can dispense with hearing protectors.

Small nose provides a clear line-of-sight 

The narrow nosepiece on the 23LXP provides a very clear line-of-sight that enables you to place pins exactly where you want them to go. The no-mar tip helps quite a bit, as it has alignment guides integrated into the top and sides of the tip. I found that shooting pins without the no-mar tip really didn't dent the workpiece on hardwood. However, I do use the tip when working on sheet goods and softwoods.
Precise pin placement is a breeze

One area where the 23LXP really shines is fastening narrow stock. I had no problem placing pins on very narrow workpieces (3/16" slats in the photo above) and didn't have to worry about any of the slats splitting, even when shooting close to the ends of the slats. I also found that I didn't have to mark out where I wanted to place the pins - the tip is so narrow (even with the no-mar pad on) and the sight line so good, that you can eyeball pin placement with super accuracy. 

Easily pin very narrow workpieces

Just to show you how easy it is to rapidly fasten even the narrowest stock, I pinned this 3/32" wide match stick in about 4 seconds.

Long pins can lead to blowout

You need to be a bit careful when shooting long pins. In the photo above I shot 2" pins about 1" from the end of the block of Ash. Because the pins are so narrow they tend to follow the grain quite readily, and they can easily blow out the end or side of your workpiece. Using the shortest pins whenever you can, and angling away from the ends or edges of your workpiece helps avoid blowout.

The Senco 23LXP - durable, reliable, functional

The Senco 23LXP has everything I want in a pin nailer: it's superbly made, light in weight, takes a wide range of fastener lengths, is quick loading, has a dual safety trigger, a rear exhaust port with a muffler, a handy nail lockout override, and a five year warranty.

It's a better option than a brad nailer when for precision fastening small or delicate material, where you want nearly invisible holes, and when you don't want to risk the chance of stock splitting.

  • 23 Gauge Headless Pinner
  • Sequential dual trigger safety firing mode
  • 60-110 psi operating pressure
  • 1.1 SCFM air consumption
  • 1/2” – 2” fastener range
  • 100 fastener capacity
  • Last pin lockout
  • 1/4" NPT air inlet
  • Rear exhaust with embedded muffler
  • Onboard storage for extra no-mar pad and wrench
  • 1-5/8" W by 8" L by 9" H
  • 2 lb 13 oz weight
  • 5-yr warranty
  • Includes: Reversible belt hook, 1/4" swivel air inlet, no-mar pads (2), wrench, storage case

MADE IN:Taiwan
SOURCE:Dealer Locator
 Carl Duguay, November 2013
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