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Need Advice On What Tools To Buy

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  • Need Advice On What Tools To Buy

    I just bought an older house that needs some fixin' up. I'm looking to put in new baseboards and casings around each door, nothing too elaborate. I was told I would need a Pneumatic nailer and compressor. My problem is I have lived in a condo all my life and don't have any major tools. I don't know how large a compressor to get let alone which finish nailer to get. I stopped in both Home Depot and Lowes but they were not very helpful. I understand if I want to put in crown molding I need a different psi and scfm rating for that as well. Can anyone make a suggestion? Thanks!

  • #2
    What type of mouldings are you installing - MDF, pine, oak, etc.? How many lineal ft? Quite frankly, carpenters have trimed homes for years with a hammer and nails. MDF and pine are soft. You can easily do it by hand. Hardwoods are more difficult to nail and tend to split with ordinary nails. Finish nailers may avoid some frustration there.

    Finish carpentry does not require much air. The gun will only use what it needs though, so you needn't worry about buying too large a compressor. I recommend small and light so you can carry it from room to room and use a short hose. You will probably want at least a 16 and an 18 gauge gun. Porter Cable sells a nice starter setup with a compressor and 16 gauge for $300 that currently includes a free 18 gauge gun. It's all you need for 90% of all trim work. The 18 gauge is good for nailing the casings to the door jambs and pinning corners corners of trim together. The 16 gauge handles most other chores like fastenting trim to the stud walls.

    There are many other good brands that may be available at similar prices. Personally, I only have experience (positive) with Porter Cable and Bostich.


    • #3
      Pick up the new 2005 Home Depot Tool Catalog and/or the Sears 2004/2005 Craftsman catalog. With the latter, there is a chart outlining what tools will work at what pressures and with what compressors models. Actually you don't need much of a compressor to run a pneumatic nailer as they require only about 1 or 2 cfm at around 90 psi. Those little pancake compressors do nicely. I'm sure there will be more than one or two experienced carpenters/remodeler's here who will provide an opinion based on much more experience than I will ever have.

      But, while a pneumatic nailer is nice, you're talking about some serious $Bucks for what appears to be a rather limited use. (Presuming that you're not going to be brad nailing up a lot of stuff after you finish your remodeling.) You might want to look into renting a nailer and compressor from Home Depot or elsewhere.

      And last, but by NO means least... you really don't NEED a pneumatic nailer and compressor to put up your molding. The fact is, a good quality hammer (and a little practice hitting the nail on the head), nailset, and a little wood putty works quite nicely and has been used for at least a hundred years before the pneumatic nailer came to be.

      Either way, you're going to need to be doing some accurate measuring and you're going to have to do some saw cuts... some of which will be compound miters (like for that crown molding). If you haven't done this kind of work before, you're going to need some reading and/or an experienced friend to help you out. A decent CMT (Compound Miter Saw) would be in order (buy or rent). The nailing is almost a minor effort compared to that... in my opinion anyway.

      Good luck and enjoy your project,



      • #4
        Novice----with an old house, you'll be buying LOTS of TOOLS!

        I wouldn't even attempt the job you're talking about without a good CMS, like CWSmith said.

        But, try and figure out what you'll be doing later----putting done wood flooring---that compressor will come in real handy when you rent a floor nailer. Also, that CMS will get some use too.

        As to a CMS, I'd go with a 12"----very versitle. About $300 or so. And for the same price tag, Porter Cable has a great deal with a compressor with both finish and brad nailers----I bought it when it just had one gun and it's been great through my whole trim job.


        • #5
          Thanks for all your help guys!

          Yes, I think I will take advantage of that deal on the Porter Cable set you mentioned. The crown molding will have to wait and then I'll probably just rent the equipment or have my brother-in-law drive down from LA to teach me how to do it.

          The reason I've decided to forgo the classic hammer and nail process is time...or lack of it, rather. I have a couple of casings along with a 11' X 11' guestroom to finish before Thanksgiving guests arrive.

          The house is only 1100 Sq.ft. but the previous owner didn't complete the finishing in some of the rooms. Interestingly, I found a 4' leftover molding piece in the garage with a tag that reads "LDF 424 5/8" x 2 1/2 Casing". Is that something like MDF? I probably should complete the house with the same material, don't you think?

          Also, I agree that a 12" Compound Miter Saw is an absolute for even a novice DIYer and will be off to make that investment tomorrow. Now that I've got my Home Improvement 1-2-3 book in hand I'm going for it. Thanks've created a monster.


          • #6
            It might stand for Light Density Fiber----If you plan on doing a lot of molding, personally, I'd switch to finger jointed pine----much easier to paint and nail holes won't pucker as will the composites.

            BTW---when you're getting nails for your PC or whichever brand, HD doesn't have them right in the tool dept. they could be on the nail aisle or I found them in the tool rental dept.

            Go Monster, go!


            • #7
              Dave and BB,

              Am I reading your comments on the PC kit, that it includes a finish and brad nailer for $300? That pretty much makes the compressor under $100!

              I was already going to get a PC finish nailer, and had thought about a brad gun, too. I just hadn't really looked into them yet. I already have the big compressor in the garage, but if I can get both guns and the pancake for $300, that sounds like a no-brainer!



              • #8
                Steve--yeah, it's a heck of a deal. Tell you, I found the little pancake a big plus for doing work around the house----I set it anyplace with just a mat or tarp under it to catch any water I drain off. think you'll find it pretty much every place.


                • #9
                  Thanks Dave. I'll have to look into that deal. My wife is looking for Christmas ideas for me!


                  • #10
                    I know you guys have the info you needed, but I will chime in and say that I have the PC 3 piece set also and it is great for all types of woodworking and home repair/remodelling.
                    info for all: --- "I like long walks, especially when they are taken by people who annoy me."


                    • #11
                      The current promotion at HD adds a narrow crown stapler to the package at no additional charge, I believe it says it comes through a mail in certificate, 3 guns and a compressor for 299, good price!!!!!!!!


                      • #12
                        Trent---even better----I bought a stapler after I bought the original PC kit----in reality, there's not much difference between the nails on the finish and brad nailers----I use my finish nailer for just about everything.


                        • #13
                          I'm not sure if its still available but HD was offering a Senco 3 piece kit for $199 that included a 15ga angled finish nailer - a real nail and not a brad like those 16ga's -, an 18ga brad nailer and a crown stapler. It might still be available on their website.

                          [ 11-19-2004, 09:19 AM: Message edited by: Badger Dave ]
                          I decided to change calling the bathroom the "John" and renamed it the "Jim". I feel so much better saying I went to the Jim this morning.


                          • #14
                            That would be a super deal on the Senco if it's still available Badger Dave. I started with a 15DA and an 18 myself. Then I added the 16 later. I like the 15DA for setting jambs and other heavier duty stuff. The nail is a little more substantial. The 16's seems a little less obtrusive in trim though. Maybe its just the brad head.

                            If your doing a whole trim job, its nice to have all 3. Novice 61 was only looking to install trim, so the 16 seemed the best choice. I agree daveferg that you could get by without the 18, but having the extra gun does help avoid swapping nail lengths as often and lowers the risk of splitting jambs. I like to run 2 1/2" in the 15DA, 2" in the 16 and 1" in the 18. Then I rarely have to switch nails/brads.

                            [ 11-19-2004, 09:19 PM: Message edited by: ByteButcher ]


                            • #15
                              I favor the PC 16 gauge nailer that will shoot 2&1/2" nails over the one that will only handle 2" nails, mainly because it will handle crown.

                              Many folks feel a 15 gauge is necessary for trim, but in 6 years I have no call backs with the 16 gauge. The holes are a lot smaller.

                              As far as pressure differences, the PC compressor has a pressure regulator----I set it at whichever pressure is needed for the nailer in use---90+ for the framer, 65-80 for the 16 gauge, 50-60 for the 18 gauge, and 75-80 for the stapler.

                              Cfm really make little difference with nailers, that is more of a concern with sanders/rotary air tools.

                              Agree with the 12" compound miter saw advice. There are three types, single compound---tilts one direction, double compound---tilts both ways, and sliding. The singles are about $300, doubles around $400 and sliders start around $550. You could get a 10" slider---if it will handle the crown you will use---little less expensive---starting around $450 or so.

                              Just buy quality tools in the CMS, nailers and compressor---also a table saw---there are several portables that are top notch.
                              Mac<P>Problems are opportunities in disguise