If you are looking to quickly punch a few nails to fix a lose piece of furniture, a hammer would be all you need. But if you are working on a larger project, such as renovating your basement, you will need hundreds and perhaps thousands of nails—a nail gun is the most efficient, less time consuming and frankly, most practical way to punch all those nails.
A nailer should definitely be in your toolbox, even if you will just be using it over the weekends for home renos. You can use the machine for heavy and large projects, or for smaller ones. Your nailer will come in handy when fastening huge pieces of woodwork, punching nails in to furniture, when carrying out precision work or when applying roof shingles.
Types Of Nail Guns
Nails guns can be categorized into two: the stick style and the coil style nail gun.
The coil style type of nail gun features a circular magazine that can hold as many as 300 nails. The nails are held in long strings and are conjoined using wires.
A stick style nail gun uses nails that are held together by a thin wire, plastic or a strip of paper.
Pneumatic Vs. Cordless Nail Guns
Pneumatic Nail Guns
You have the option of going for a pneumatic nailer or a cordless one. Pneumatic nails guns are the most common and honestly, more traditional. This type requires an air compressor that emits air to power the machine. So, when you fire the trigger, a valve inside the tool opens up and air rushes in to fill the small compressor. Inside the compressor is a piston which swiftly moves downward and pushes the nail past the tip of the machine and into the material you are working on. The air in the compressor is released through a vent. Meanwhile, the piston retreats to allow another nail to load.
Each nail gun requires a certain amount of pounds per square inch (psi) of pressure. Pneumatic nailers also require a specific volume of air measured in cubic feet per minute (cfm), to function with ultimate precision.
Pneumatic nail guns come with hoses—any obstacles inside the hose, or if the size of the hose is incompatible with the nailer will curtail the nailer’s performance.
A rule of thumb is to check that the cfm and psi of the air compressor are equal to or greater than the stated requirement of the nailer; otherwise the machine will not work properly.
Cordless Nail Guns
Cordless nail guns perform the same function as pneumatic guns. But, cordless nailers are powered by flammable gas, instead of compressed air.
This is how it works: From a disposable container, gas is added into a combustion compartment that is located right on top of the piston. An electric charge powered by a battery lights up the gas causing an explosion that pushes the piston to dispense nails onto the nailing surface.
Pros and Cons Of Pneumatic And Cordless Nail Guns
- The greatest advantage of the cordless nail gun is that it does not require hoses, compressors or cords—the power source is housed inside the machine.
- Both types of nail guns do punch nails quickly and conveniently when working at optimal performance.
- Cordless nailers need frequent cleaning compared to the pneumatic type. However, the cordless nailer has a much shorter start up time; just put it on and you start to punch nails immediately.
- Cordless nail guns are more convenient and practicable when you are working in tight, enclosed spaces—you do not have to deal with cumbersome hoses, cords or a heavy compressor.
- Pneumatic nailers will come in handy when you are working on larger projects that require many nails to be fired. On the other hand, a cordless nailer will do just fine for smaller jobs, especially those in tight spaces.
Features Of Nail Guns
Features are an important consideration when comparing different nailers, pre-purchase. Here’s what you should look out for:
Nail Firing Mechanism
Nail guns differ in the way they drive nails. Some nailers require you to press the trigger down and then tap the machine on the material to punch a nail; every time you tap, a nail is dispensed. This type of nail gun is excellent if you are tackling production type of work.
The problem with this type of nailing mechanism is that the tool can dispense more than one nails at a go. You will probably require some practice before you can get used to this type of nailer.
For projects that require precision, a nailer that dispenses just a single nail upon pulling the trigger is the best option. Staple nail guns are a good example of nailers that punch one nail at a time.
Some nailers come with many trigger settings to enable you to adjust the firing style according to the project at hand.
Clearing Jammed Nails
Be sure to choose a nail gun that can be easily unjammed in case nails are stuck inside there.
Tool vs tool-less exhaust adjustment
Most modern nail guns come with an adjustable exhaust plate that allows the user to control where the exhaust should be directed. This is especially important when working in an area full of debris. Some exhaust plates require adjusting using special tools while others you can simply adjust by hand. An increasing number of manufacturers are producing nailers that do not require additional tools for adjustment.
Adjustable Nail Depth
The best nailers are those that allow you to adjust how deep into the material the nail should go. Depending on the setting, a nail gun can cause the nails to protrude or sink too deep. Just like the exhaust settings, the depth adjustment in some nailers can be done by hand while for other nailers, special tools are required.
You will likely be in protective gloves when using a power nailer (well, you should do this for safety purposes). A nailer with a lager trigger will allow you to comfortably use the nailer with your protective gloves on while a smaller trigger will obviously give you a hard time with gloved hands.
For pneumatic nailers, it is best to buy one that comes with a swivelling connector where you will fix the hose. Swivelling connectors keep the hose from tangling.
The point of using a power nail gun is to save on time and effort. The magazine, the part that holds the nails, can either slow you down or make your work easier. A good tool should have a magazine that loads nails fast with very little effort from your side.
It is best to select a nailing gun with replaceable protective guards. Guards not only protect the tool from wear and tear, they also keep debris from hitting your face as you work.
Nail size and Style
Each type of nail gun has its own requirements for the appropriate size and style of nail—never use a nail type that is incompatible with the machine. Most nail guns will allow you to easily adjust the size of the nails throughout the course of your work.
Each nailer will come with prepackaged nails that need to be replaced once they are all used up. Inside the magazine, nails are bundled up together using plastic, wire or paper. The nails are lubricated so that once a nail is dispensed onto the nailing surface, it holds tightly onto the surface. Finally, be sure to check building codes and regulations that govern the type of nail you should use in your nail gun.
So, in summary selecting a good nail guns entails:
Determining your needs
Do you require the machine for low volume or high volume projects?
Considering The Features
Different nailers come with different features depending on your needs and preferences
A nail gun is a significant investment. The rule of thumb is to always look around for average market prices to know what a reasonable price is and what is too good to be true.