We live in a day and age where we no longer have to build and fix everything manually. We now have access to a huge number of tools that make any laborious jobs that little bit more manageable, one of which is the framing nailer.
The framing nailer, also know as a nail gun, was introduced to us by Morris Pynoos, a civil engineer known for his work on the Hughes H-4 Hercules where he nailed the wooden fuselage together, then glued it, and finally removed the nails.
The first nail gun was then released to the market in 1950 for flooring purposes mainly, and used air pressure to power it. It was able to nail anywhere between 40 and 60 nails per minute and could fit up to 600 nails in it.
Since then, the nail gun industry has evolved significantly offering various types of nailers, including the framing nailer. All these guns are powered differently and can be used for a multitude of jobs.
With this in mind, we know that it can be very difficult to find the right one for your needs. So, to help you we’ve created this comprehensive guide on nail guns.
In this guide, we’re going to tell you about the various nail guns on the market today, what they can be used for, the various features these guns have to offer, how to use one, and how to keep yourself safe when using it.
We’ll also tell you about some of the most reputable manufacturers on the market to make your search easier.
So, without further ado, let’s get started with the basics:
A framing nailer is a tool used to attach large pieces of material together with nails. It has a similar shape to a gun, hence the name, and is best known for its ability to eliminate the need for a hammer during various types of projects.
Using a nail gun can save you hours on your projects without skimping on precision. A framing nailer is great for quick projects that require larger nails.
That said, before you choose your type of gun, you need to ask yourself what you are going to be using it for. In other words, what are you going to be nailing?
Nailers are extremely handy for a variety of types of construction projects. Some are better for high volumes of nailing duties, for example, framing nailers, whereas others are better for heavy duty and smaller jobs.
Some jobs for which a nail gun would come in handy include:
When attempting to undertake any of the above jobs, you must have a good understanding of the various nailers on the market today. You should also find out which one is best for each individual project as they all come with their own set of features and benefits.
Lastly, before getting started, you need to learn how to use a framing nailer safely and professionally so that you can get the job done properly without hurting yourself. Here is a step-by-step guide you can follow:
Nail guns can be extremely dangerous if not used correctly. In fact, the basic safety precautions to take with nailers are not that dissimilar from those you would take when handling a real gun.
With the above in mind, here are some common safety measures you should follow, no matter what type of gun you are handling.
Although these may seem obvious, they are worth mentioning in case you have never used one before:
Now that we’ve gone through the most common and obvious safety measures you should take when using a framing nailer, here is a step-by-step guide to get you started:
Read this guide for professional and safe framing nailer using.
Before you even pick up your nail gun, you need to take the adequate safety precautions. Start by putting on your glasses and gloves before putting nails in your gun.
The magazine is where the nail strips need to be placed for use. This can normally be found at the back or bottom of the nailer, although this will depend on your gun. To load the nail strip into the magazine, slide the strip in and close the magazine once the nails are secure.
Practicing shooting your nail gun is especially important if you have never used one before. Find an old piece of wood or other material and shoot a few nails into it to get a feel for your nailer.
Now that you’ve got a feel for your nail gun, place it against the surface you want to nail. Hold the handle in a way that gives you access to the trigger. Then, place your hands in a way that secure your gun, but don’t put them at risk of being in the firing zone.
Your entire body needs to be close enough to apply pressure and give stability as there will be a kick back when you fire your nailer.
The most important thing to remember when putting pressure on your nailer is to not use your chest or stomach as you could seriously hurt yourself. Just remember that you need enough pressure to be ready for the kickback.
Once you have shot your first nail, immediately release the trigger. If you don’t you may accidentally shoot more nails than intended.
Once you have taken the gun away from the surface you have nailed, check the state of the nail. If the nail is not flush with the surface, you may have pulled the gun away too early or not put enough pressure while nailing.
If you are ready for round two, disconnect your framing nailer from its power source before reloading a strip of nails into the magazine.
Nailers are normally categorized based on what they are designed to be used for. Although some are very specific when categorizing their nail guns, there are traditionally six kinds on the market today and these are:
A framing nailer is perfect for bigger, more heavy duty jobs. Nails in a framing nailer are 2.8mm wide and can be used with pretty much any type of wood.
A framing nailer is great for:
There are two types of framing nailers, those that can take round-head nails, and those that use clipped head nails.
We recommend you look for a framing nailer that accommodates round-head nails as clipped head ones aren’t allowed to be used in a variety of construction projects.
Roofing nail guns are often lighter but aren’t much use unless you are going to use one to attach shingles to a roof. Although not essential to your everyday toolkit, roofing nail guns are extremely precise tools that are designed to work on asphalt and fiberglass.
Finish nailers are lighter in nature and are an essential tool if you are making furniture, remodeling your home or doing woodwork such as assembling cabinets.
Finish guns are also great for:
Although many confuse finish nailers with brad nailers because they both use high-gauge nails, they are different as the finish nailer uses slightly larger nails. It is worth noting that all smaller jobs should be undertaken with a brad nailer rather than a finish gun.
As the name suggests, flooring nailers are used for hardwood flooring installation. The type of flooring nailer you choose will depend on your physical capabilities as manual ones require you to physically drive the nail into the floor whereas pneumatic ones use air pressure.
Flooring cleat nailers and flooring staple guns are slightly different, with cleat nailers working better with thicker wood such as bamboo.
Although not as common or as useful as framing nailers, concrete nail guns are considered the most powerful as they can shoot nails into concrete.
We recommend you steer clear from concrete nailers unless you already have experience with them as they can be extremely dangerous. They can also be too powerful for certain materials, shooting nails through them entirely.
Understanding the way a nail gun works is great for getting to grips with how to use it and also appreciating the amount of damage it can do if not used properly. Here is a basic explanation of its main features and how they operate:
Your nail gun will have a piston inside it made of magnetic material. Put simply, when you apply pressure on the nailer, an electromagnetic field pushes the piston out and then back in.
This piston is attached to a blade, so once the electric current pushes the piston, it also pushes the blade, which makes contact with the nail, forcing it out of the gun.
Your nail gun has an electromagnetic design that runs electricity through a wire that generates a magnetic field. Just like with other permanent magnets, this has a “north” and “south” end or in the case of a nail gun, a negative and positive switch.
The positive switch is what pushes the piston out, pushing the blade, and in turn, shooting out the nail.
The negative switch is basically what draws your piston back in once you have applied the pressure to shoot a nail out. Some nail guns also have a spring mechanism that brings the piston back in.
Every year 37,000 people end up in the emergency room because of nail guns. Because nail guns are moderately easy to get used to and use, many forget about the safety procedures they need to follow to avoid an accident from occurring.
There are some major risk factors that cause injuries from nailers, these are:
Although the common causes of injuries outlined above are in most cases accidental, they can often be avoided. As we mentioned earlier, the safety precautions of using a nail gun are similar to those you should follow when using a real gun.
That said, other precautions you can take to reduce your chances of having an accident with your nail gun include:
As with any product or tool, you need to read the manufacturer's instructions before you start using your nail gun. Aside from telling you the do’s and don’ts of nailing, it will also help you to get to know your nail gun better.
It’s important that before you connect your nail gun to a power source, you inspect it to make sure it has not been dropped or tampered with.
You also need to be aware of your nailer’s trigger mechanisms. Are you working with a contact trigger nailer or a full sequential gun? By not checking, you could use it incorrectly, leading to a painful injury.
Whether you are working alone or with another person, it is important that you are aware of your surroundings. You need to take notice of where yours and your partner’s hands are to avoid firing a nail into them.
You also need to make sure that the person holding the surface down has a firm grip on it as the kick back can be extremely strong, leading to hands slipping, and the potential for an accident.
Lastly, know the material you are shooting into. If you are shooting into wood with a framing nailer, check how thick the wood is. Not knowing the surface you are nailing could once again lead you to firing a nail through your hand.
Checking the surface your are nailing through does not stop at the depth. You need to be sure that your nailer can actually be used to nail the surface in question. If not, the nail could go straight through it or ricochet, putting you and anyone around you at serious risk.
Wearing the appropriate safety gear is essential when using any tool, let alone a framing nailer. Even with the best intentions, it is easy to make a mistake and if you can avoid a serious injury by wearing the adequate protective gear, you should!
As mentioned above, wearing the right safety equipment could reduce the severity of an injury should an accident occur. The most important safety gear includes:
Most nailers come with a free set of protective eyewear, but if they do not, you should purchase a pair before using your nailer.
If you are wondering why you should wear goggles when operating a nail gun, the answer is simple: someone could accidentally press the trigger when the gun is aimed at you and a nail could ricochet off a service and bounce back into your face.
Although gloves will not stop a nail going completely through your finger, they could prevent minor injuries such as cuts. Cuts from nails, both rusty and not rusty, are associated with tetanus, so taking every precaution to avoid getting this bacterial disease is key.
Let’s say you remember to point your nailer down when transporting it, but forget to take your finger off the trigger, you could accidentally shoot yourself in the foot, literally.
If you’re wearing sandals you’re more likely to get seriously injured than with steel toe cap boots, so always consider your footwear when using a nail gun.
Have you decided to take the plunge and buy a nail gun, but don’t know where to start? Fear not, here are some reputable manufacturers you could consider:
Founded back in 1920, Hitachi is a powerhouse of a company that has been producing some of the most innovative and advanced products to customers across the world in metallurgy, motor design, electronics, and tools.
The company manufactures more than 1000 models of electric power tools that mainly focus on compact and high-output motor technology.
Hitachi has also received recognition under the ISO 9000 series international standards for quality assurance and has durability as its bottom line for power tools, making it an extremely reputable brand to purchase from.
With over 100 years as a leader in the industry, Porter-Cable has earned its position as one of the most reputable tool manufacturers in the world.
Porter-Cable has introduced many firsts to the power tool market. The company designs, manufactures, and markets its own electric and cordless, pneumatic tools, pressure washers, and generators among other products.
Porter-Cable is also an ISO 9001 certified manufacturer who aims to provide the highest quality products to its customers from development to distribution.
DeWalt prides itself in doing the adequate research to find out what works and what doesn’t for its customers. This means, that no matter what tool the company produces, it does it with the highest quality and efficiency in mind.
DeWalt is driven by innovation, allowing it to increase the performance, ease of use, and productivity of its products.
Best known for its power tools, DeWalt guarantees durability to its customers as all its products have been tried, tested, abused, and put under the most challenging of circumstances to make sure they perform everyday no matter what.
Owned and distributed by the Positec Tool Corporation, Rockwell Tools is famous for its line of power tools designed for professionals and individuals in the construction, automotive, repair, and woodworking industries.
Offering both cordless and corded products, the company is known for its innovative specialty products. It gives the performance-minded and DIY specialists durable tools that are reasonably priced.
Although younger than other brands, Rockwell Tools is quality focused and is able to compete with the big boys thanks to its amazing range of products.
Before making a choice on your preferred framing nailer, you need to know what you will be using it for. You also need to understand how it works so that you can keep yourself and others around you safe.
Lastly, you need to choose a manufacturer that is reputable for designing quality products that stand the test of time. But, the choice can be a daunting one, especially with the variety on the market today.
If you need help making your final decision, check out our framing nailer buying guide. You’ll not only be able to learn more about nail guns as a whole, but also catch a glimpse into what customers really think about some of the best models in the industry.