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Nail Gun Buying Guide

A relatively new addition to the tool box, nail guns offer a faster, more efficient method of nailing than using the humble hammer. A nail gun is a serious purchase, but for those who have lots of nailing to do, a nail gun can reduce construction times dramatically. From battery operated cordless nailers to compressor powered pneumatic ones, there are a wide range of nail guns available to suit any users needs.

Anatomy of a Nail Gun

Anatomy of a Nail Gun

The basic anatomy of a nail gun remains the same regardless of how it is powered, with the major difference between the types being the method used to drive the firing pin.

The gun is operated using a squeeze trigger that activates the driving mechanism for the firing pin. The firing pin is pushed or released at high speed driving the nail in to the wood.

Most nail guns have a twin trigger safety system that requires the foot of the gun to be depressed onto the wood before the trigger is squeezed for a nail to be fired. This helps to prevent the gun from firing accidentally and potentially causing injury to the user.

The nails are held in a spring loaded cartridge that automatically feeds the nails under the firing pin giving a constant supply of nails.

Looking at the two main types of firing mechanism, the pneumatic gun uses a supply of compressed air that is released into the chamber above the firing pin pushing it downwards at high speed. The firing pin contacts the nail and forces it into the wood. The air is then channelled under the head of the firing pin pushing it upwards to its original starting position and the air exits the gun through the exhaust holes.

The electric gun uses a solenoid to drive the firing pin. A simple yet highly effective form of electromagnet, the solenoid is made up from a single coil of wire. When an electrical current is passed through the wire a magnetic field is formed inside the solenoid. By switching the direction of the current, the magnetic poles of the solenoid can be changed as required. When the trigger is pressed on an electric nail gun, the magnetic field is set so that the magnetic head of the firing pin is repelled downwards firing the nail into the wood. At the bottom of the solenoid the head of the firing pin hits a switch that changes the polarity of the solenoid repelling the firing pin back up to its starting position ready for the next nail to be fired. ©

Types of Nail Guns

18 Gauge Nail Guns

More commonly known as a brad nailer, the 18 gauge gun is used for finer work such as cabinet work and furniture construction, mirror and picture framing, fixing window beading and other similar applications. 18 gauge nails or "brads" as they are known measure 1mm in diameter and have a very small T shaped head that allows them to be countersunk for hidden nailing. Due to their small diameter, 18 gauge nails are not suitable for construction where the nail will have to bear weight. ©

View our Range of 18 Gauge Nail Guns 18 Gauge Nail Guns

23 Gauge Nail Guns

The 23 gauge nailer fires pins that are only 0.8mm in diameter. Used for attaching beadings and mouldings as well as other fine accents to furniture, 23 gauge nailers are also ideal for miniature, model and doll's house making. 23 gauge pins have no head and can be countersunk. Because of the small diameter, these pins leave an extremly small hole that is easy to fill with wax or other such filler. ©

View our Range of 23 Gauge Nail Guns 23 Gauge Nail Guns

Features to Consider When Buying a Nail Gun

Features to Consider When Buying a Nail Gun

1. Pneumatic, Electric or Cordless?

When selecting which nail gun to buy, one of the most important factors to consider is how the gun will be powered.

Pneumatic guns require a supply of pressurised air from a compressor to drive the firing pin and is a favoured method in large workshops and on site.

Electric guns run from mains electricity so you will need a power supply available where you intend to work.

Cordless guns run from batteries and can be taken anywhere without the restriction of a power cord or air hose. How and where you need to work should influence your decision when selecting a nail gun. ©

2. Nail Type

Possibly the greatest influencing factor to any nail gun purchase is what the nail gun will be used to construct or fix. For heavy duty construction such as timber framing, decking, shed and fence construction then a thicker, weight bearing nail is required such as a framing or 15 gauge nail.

The 16 gauge nail is a good all-rounder; thick enough to bear some weight, but with the added benefit of a small T head that will countersink below the surface of the wood.

The 18 gauge nail is used for more delicate work fixing trim and moulding and in the assembly of fine cabinets and other furniture.

23 gauge nails are often referred to as pins and are used for very fine nailing and fixing work. ©

3. Firing Pin

The most important part of the nail gun is the firing pin. Always look for a gun that has a hardened and tempered firing pin.

If a firing pin is not hardened and tempered correctly then it may shatter in use or the tip may burr over causing the gun to misfire or leave indentations in the wood. All of our nail guns feature correctly hardened and tempered firing pins.

Tips From the Experts

1. Always run a pneumatic nail gun at the correct pressure as stated in the gun's manual. Running it at too low or too high a pressure will result in poorly driven nails. ©

2. A no mar foot will ensure that the nail gun does not damage the surface of the wood when nailing. ©

3. Never attempt to fire nails that are not of the correct gauge or length for your nail gun. ©

Maintenance

Maintenance

Pneumatic tools are prone to water build up inside them during use. Regular oiling of the internal workings of the guns will prevent rust forming inside. ©

If you notice that your nail gun is jamming regularly or trying to fire two nails at once, check your firing pin for signs of damage or wear. If some wear is evident, replace the firing pin immediately. ©