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  • nail gun ??

    I am considering adding a nail gun for my shop to be used mostly for finishing. Any suggestions on brand and model?

    Thanks!

  • #2
    Brand: Porter-Cable.

    Type: There are basically four choices:

    A "brad nailer" will shoot 18 ga. wire brads ranging from 3/4" to 2".

    A "16 ga. finish nailer" will shoot the air nailer equivalent of wire finish nails from about 3p to 8p size (2"), but since the magazine is at right angles to the piston, it doesn't get into tight corners as well as the 15 ga. finish nailer.

    A "15 ga. finisher nailer" shoots slightly thicker-shank finish nails of the same length range. The magazine is angled at about 22 degrees; good for crown and base moldings.

    A "framing nailer" shoots real headed framing nails, up to 3-1/2" in length.

    Which is best for you depends a lot on what you're doing. I used 2" brads with my brad nailer to install a temporary cleat to a wall the other day for hanging shelves, and it held so well I had trouble getting it out.

    When buying any nailer, consider what compressor you're going to use. There are some small compressors, often sold with nailers as a kit; these are (in my opinion), marginal for small nailers, and wholly inadequate for the other air tools you're likely to acquire once you experience the power of compressed air tools. Look for the SCFM rating at 90 psi; you don't want anything less than 4-6.

    Before spending any money, consider buying a copy of Rick Peters, "Air Tools" (Sterling Pub. Co., 2000) for a quick and useful primer on air tools and compressors.

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    • #3
      By finishing, I take it you mean furniture work. the 18 gauge brad nailers will do a good job when combined with glue. The big advantage to the 18 gauge is the hole left to fill is small.

      I have four nailers/staplers. A PC clipped head framing nailer, a PC 16 gauge nailer for trim/door trim, a PC 18 gauge brad nailer for furniture/picture framing/trim, and a Bostich 7/32" stapler for floor underlayment/trim. Lots of folks like a 15 gauge nailer, but I think the 16 gauge is just as good. The 16 gauge nailer is probably as close to all around as you can get.
      Mac<P>Problems are opportunities in disguise

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      • #4
        I started with a Porter Cable 18 gauge brad nailer and love it, but the nail is so fine that I occasionally would get a z shaped nail as the boards moved (I still use it to hold glued parts while they are drying).

        I then got a 15 gauge finish nailer, with the angle magazine for easier access in corners. The nail is certainly stronger, and the hole isn't that much larger, but the choices of nails don't go as small. I haven't used the 15 gauge nailer enough to say it is bad, but I don't like it as much as my PC.

        If I were doing it over, and wanted to minimize the number of nailers for finish and furniture work, I would get a Porter Cable 16 gauge finish nailer as my "first" nailer, and see if it could be the only "small" nailer.

        But the important point is to get one - I use the nailers far more than I ever thought I would.

        As for compressors, I have one with a large tank, which takes a while to fill - irritating if I only want to drive a few nails. The big tank is great for air driven grinder, spray painting, and other tools that need large volume, but the pause between nails on non-production projects gives lots of time for recovery - I sometimes wish I had a smaller tank. The extreme was one time I needed a single 2 inch brad at the far end of the house, so I fired the nail gun with a battery operated tire compressor that pumped up 70 psi with virtually no volume - it worked with no hose or hauling the big compressor.

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        • #5
          Charlie P: If you expect to find yourself often in a situation where you want just enough air for a "single shot," consider buying a pony tank. These are tanks without compressors, usually about 10-12 gallons in size. You can charge them from your compressor and then lieave them charged until you need the air. Most ponies come with regulators, and you can retrofit a small Campbell-Hausfeld regulator if you have to. You will find all sorts of uses for it, including "quick" clean ups with a blow gun that, like your "single shot" nails, don't warrant charging the whole compressor tank, or "topping up" the tires on the car (something most people, including those who own compressors, don't do often enough). A little compressed air is just the ticket for blowing out water lines, either before soldering or for winter layup, and that is a job that is usually nowhere near the compressor. HD stocks the C-H pony tank for short money.

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