When you need to drive in a nail, nothing beats a hammer. There’s even a convenient claw on the other end to correct any mishaps. But when you need to drive a lot of nails in a short amount of time, nothing beats a power nailer. A quality power nailer can sink thousands of nails a day consistently and accurately with a minimum amount of maintenance.
Nail Gun Types
- Stick-style Nail Guns: Stick-style nail guns use nails that are collated, or held together, by strips of paper, plastic or thin wire. These nails form a long, slender stick that slides into an oblong magazine on the tool. Nail sticks vary in length from 20-inch to 40-inch nails.
- Coil-style Nail Guns: Coil-style nail guns use long, flexible strings of nails joined with wires. The nails are stored in a round magazine on the tool. The magazine rolls the string of nails, allowing as many as 300 nails to be loaded at a time.
Applications for Nail Guns
Nail guns can be used in virtually any type of construction. Some models are designed for use in tight spaces, while others are large and powerful for high-volume applications.
- Framing nailers are designed for fast, high-powered work in fastening large pieces of material.
- Finish nailers are lighter weight, used for furniture, cabinets, trim and molding.
- Staplers, tackers and brad nailers are also lightweight, used for precision work.
- Roofing nailers are specifically designed to apply roof shingles.
Pneumatic Nail Guns
The most common power nail guns are pneumatic nailers. These are powered by air pressure from a small compressor. When a nail is fired, a valve opens in the tool and air fills a cylinder. A piston in the cylinder moves rapidly downward, driving the nail in front of it into the material at the tip of the nailer. When the piston fully extends, the air from the compressor is released from the tool through an exhaust vent. The piston recoils while another nail is loaded.
Pneumatic nail guns require a constant source of compressed air. While no nail gun requires a specific compressor, each has specific air requirements. Nail guns operate between a range of pressures measured in pounds per square inch (psi). In addition to pressure, nail guns require a minimum volume of air for correct operation. This volume is rated in cubic feet per minute (cfm). Any restriction in the air hose will decrease the air pressure and volume. Hoses that are the wrong size, too long or contain a lot of moisture will decrease airflow, and cause premature wear and poor performance.
The psi and cfm ratings of your air compressor should be at least equal to or greater than the requirements of your nailer. If the compressor doesn’t meet these requirements, the nail gun won’t work correctly. Increasing the air pressure output of the compressor won’t solve performance problems caused by low air volume.