Things to Know Before Buying a Nail Gun
If you’ve never had the chance to use a nail gun, you won’t know how you got by before without one. Nailing anything by hand takes effort, technique, and experience before you can sink a nail with one shot. And not hit your thumb in the process! Nail guns are powerful, safe, and quick ways to attach almost any two things together.
Battery Powered Nail Guns for Ease of Use
If you ask me, the most important development in power tool technology has been the Lithium-Ion battery. Power tools that would otherwise need long power cables are now as portable as a pencil and a hundred times more useful. Most battery powered nail guns make use of 18V batteries that deliver plenty of power without adding too much weight to the tool. Just be prepared to pay for the privilege.
Shots per Charge
If you are looking for a battery-powered framing nailer then check how many shots per charge you will get from your battery. This will give you an idea of how long you can keep working before you are required to stop and charge your nail gun. In addition, if your nail gun uses a gas cartridge it is worth checking how many nails it will fire per cartridge. This will give you an idea of how long each gas cartridge or canister will last and what the costs will be for your project.
The battery charge time will affect how much work you can do. Luckily, most nail gun batteries charge in between 30 – 60 minutes. This reduces downtime and gets you back to work more quickly. Some framing nailers come with two batteries so you can have one on charge while you use the other. This is handy if you have a larger project planned as you can get on with the job and are not held up waiting around for your framing nailer to charge.
Corded Nail Guns
As much as cordless power tools have changed the face of DIY and what you can get done “off grid”, there’s nothing worse than waiting for your batteries to charge up. If you don’t need a battery operated nail gun, then save yourself some money and go for a corded nail gun. You get all the power you need and there’s no waiting around when your last battery has gone past the red.
The best nail guns have selectable firing modes- sequential and continuous. Sequential fire means that one pull of the trigger, once you’ve pushed the nose up to the workpiece, results in one nail being fired. Continuous or “bump” fire, on the other hand, means that you can hold down the trigger and use the nose action to fire nails or staples rapidly.
Light weight and robust construction are the two most important factors to consider when buying nail guns. Aluminium bodies are common, but you can find brad nailers with magnesium or plastic bodies too.
Ergonomic and comfortable moulded handles are vital if you want to use a brad nail gun, so expect to see thermoset plastics and rubbers on the best brad nailers.
Nail guns are used to quickly and accurately fire nails into a range of materials. You’ll find the best electric nail guns used for fence building, light timber framing and interior finish work like installing crown moulding and skirting boards. Electric staplers are much more at home when used for upholstery and crafting jobs.
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Nail Gun FAQs
How do I use an electric nail gun?
Before you start using your nail gun, you should carefully read the manual supplied with your new tool. Even though the best nail guns come with a range of safety features, it’s important that you familiarise yourself with all moving parts.
One of the most useful features on a modern nail gun is the safety catch- found in the nose of the nail gun, it stops the gun from operating unless it is pressed firmly into the workpiece. This avoids accidental firing when the nail gun is in the air. Even the continuous fire mode found on the best electric nail gun requires the safety catch to be released before firing.
How do I select the correct nail depth?
You should always practise on scrap materials before attempting any finish work. It can take a few goes with a nail gun to get the right nail depth dialled in, so grab some scrap and test out the power settings, if there are any, on your nail gun. Brad nails and staples aren’t the easiest thing to remove if they’ve gone under the surface and tapping in the heads of nails with a hammer is a pain as well.
Are nail guns safe?
Yes, they’re as safe as any other power tool if you follow all safety guidance. The best nail guns are packed with safety features to stop them firing unless they’re pressed up against a solid surface. You can also clear any jams safely without needing special tools.
My advice is to never try to release a jammed nail or stapler with the tool plugged in or with the battery in place. You need to always wear the correct personal protective equipment too- nail guns are loud, so make sure you’re wearing ear defenders as well as safety glasses.
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