Nail guns are indispensable tools when you need to drive hundreds if not thousands of nails quickly and consistently, with great accuracy. However, not every nailer is suitable for every job. There are many different types of nail guns, separated into two basic categories – coil and strip loading configurations. Moreover, you can choose between corded and cordless nail gun models, depending on whether you need the gun to be portable or not.
Coil nailers are also known as siding nailers. These nailers feature a flexible string of nails joined by wires, forming a round magazine. These nailers are more compact and you can fit them into more spaces. They hold more nails, allowing you to nail longer before having to reload. Strip nailers, on the other hand, feature nail magazines arranged on a long, slender strip that slides into the nail gun. Strips of plastic, wire or paper hold the nails together, which distributes the weight of the nails more evenly, making them easier to handle.
Nailer Power Sources
The power source of the nail gun will determine its mobility and the type of work it’s meant to handle. Pneumatic nail guns drive nails using pressurised air from compressors. The compressor’s rating for pressure, which is measured in PSI, and volume, which is measured in CFM, should meet or exceed the requirements of the nail gun. If you plan on powering other tools besides the nail gun, make sure the compressor is capable of handling the combined load. Pneumatic nailers are powerful and capable, but the air hose of the compressor can limit its portability.
If portability is your number one priority, then a cordless nail gun provides just that. These nail guns are battery-powered, and feature quick startup times, but don’t provide as much power as pneumatic nail guns. However, there are fuel-driven nail guns that use gas combustion, and have fuel injected from a disposable gas tank that combusts in a chamber to create a driving force. No hoses or cords are necessary for both these types, making them great for applications where portability is key.
Nail Firing Methods
Knowing the different types of nail firing methods will help you make the right choice. Moreover, it will help you avoid accidental firing. While different manufacturers can use different names for the firing methods, in most cases, the firing method depends on the operations of two basic controls – the trigger and safety tip that you press up against the work surface.
Also known as bump firing, this method allows you to quickly drive nails in succession. As long as you hold down the trigger, the nail gun will fire a nail each time the safety tip goes up against the work surface. This type of nailing is fast, speeding up production work. On the downside, it can be difficult to control. There’s a higher chance of accidental firing compared to other methods.
Single Sequence Firing
This method prevents accidentally bump firing. You’ll have to operate the safety tip and trigger in sequence in order to fire the initial nail, after which you can keep the safety tip pressed up against the work surface and just press the trigger for every other nail.
Single Actuation Firing
This method works similarly to the single sequence firing method, but to fire the first nail, you can press the safety tip and the trigger in any order. In other words, you can bump fire the first nail.
Full Sequential Firing
This method ensures your safety by requiring sequential activation of the safety trip and trigger. In other words, you can’t bump-fire nails, and if you want to fire multiple nails, you’ll have to release both the safety tip and trigger after the first nail before reactivating them in the right sequence to keep going. This method prevents you from working quickly, but it ensures safety.
Nail Gun Features
Once you’ve decided what type of nail gun works best for your project, you should consider these features.
- A jam clearing system to simplify maintenance and prevent nails from jamming into the firing mechanism
- Depth adjustment to control how far the nails will be driven into the work surface. This will prevent nails from sinking too deep and protruding. Some nail guns require extra tools for adjustment, while others allow you to adjust them by hand
- Protective guards to protect you from flying debris and prevent damage to the tool. Most guards wear out with use, so consider a gun with widely available accessories
- Nail size adjustment to change nail size as needed
- Swivel air connectors on pneumatic nailers to reduce hose tangles
- A carrying case to protect the nailer from damage during storage and transport
- Onboard work lights for extra visibility of the work surface
- Directional exhaust system to channel the tool’s exhaust. This is especially beneficial when working in dusty conditions. Some systems require special tools for adjustment, while others can be adjusted manually