Today, we’ll explore framing nailers having recently looked into brad nailers in some depth. If you need assistance with big and high-volume projects, there really is little substitute for a framing nailer.
Framing nailers are divided into 2 broad categories:
- Pneumatic Nailers
- Battery-Powered Nailers
Pneumatic framing nailers work in tandem with an air compressor so you’ll need to make provision for this. They are cheaper to buy but you’ll be much more restricted with the hoses and connections.
With a battery-powered framing nailer, you’ll get much more freedom of movement and you won’t need to think about a compressor but you will be limited by run-time so make sure the gun you’re considering is fir for purpose.
Once you’ve lasered in on the type of nailer that’s most suited to the applications you have in mind, it’s time to think about the question of degree…
Since recent construction codes demand full head nails, a 21-degree nailer is a superb choice and most of the nailer we look at today are this type.
The nail clips are nicely angled so they’ll accommodate the larger diameter of the nail head.
If you need to work in tight, awkward spots, a 28-degree nailer is a smart choice.
This type of nailer uses nail clips held together with wires. With nails stretched out, you’ll get a much longer magazine.
You can use these featherlight framing nailers for long spells in constricted spaces without feeling the pinch.
Nail clips come fastened with paper rather than plastic. With a nice, lengthy magazine and the full-head nails you need to satisfy building regs, these nailers are real all-rounders.
Who Needs Framing Nailers?
When it comes to buying any power tool, you should always keep the focus very firmly on quality. You’re much better off investing in the best tools you can afford and building up a collection over the years rather than trying to shave a few cents off the price tag only to end up with tools that are a pain to use and let you down.
Laser in on your budget and make sure not to overspend if you’re tempted by something flashy and new. While you should seek out quality tools, this doesn’t mean you need to spend the earth.
If you’re reading through user reviews and come across isolated negative comments, this is only to be expected. Some customers will almost always encounter legitimate problems even with the best products. Also, it’s not at all uncommon for competing brands to drop in negative reviews. Any time you see the same issue flagged repeatedly, though, it’s worth looking into further since there’s usually no smoke without fire.
Beyond that, take the time now to double down on some of the most important elements to consider when buying a framing nailer.
What To Consider When Buying a Framing Nailer
Cordless or Pneumatic?
As we outlined front and center, your opening decision will be whether you want the freedom of movement a cordless nailer offers or whether you’d prefer the increased firepower and lower cost of a pneumatic alternative.
There’s absolutely no right or wrong answer here. Think about your intended projects and your preferences. Consider if you already have an air compressor for a pneumatic nailer and if it makes economic sense to use this type.
It will also help if you think about how you intend to use your nail gun…
Home DIY or Jobsite Use?
If you aim to use your framing nailer in an industrial capacity, it clearly makes no sense to target lightweight, budget guns.
Equally, if you only think you’ll use your nailer once in a blue moon for some unambitious, smaller projects, why waste money on a pro-grade beast?
While all of the framing nailers we reviewed today will stand up to an occasional outing on site, only the Paslode will withstand prolonged punishment so keep your expectations reasonable or step up to contractor-level tools.
Degree of Nailer
Framing nailers come in 4 types:
- 21-Degree Framing Nailer
- 28-Degree Framing Nailer
- 30-Degree Framing Nailer
- 34-Degree Framing Nailer
Refer to our guide at the start of this article to see which of these nailers works well for which application.
Type of Nail
All nail guns will be designed for a very specific type of nails.
Some nailers require you to use proprietary nails which locks you in and limits your choice. Most of the best nailers let you use a range of nails between the designated acceptable sizes – usually from 2 inches to 3 ½ inches with framing nailers.
Look at the availability of nails for the gun you have in mind and make sure you consider the ongoing cost of these. That said, you should make your money back in no time with the money you’ll save power through projects.
Type of Magazine
There are 2 principal magazine varieties:
- Stick Magazine: This type of magazine uses nails on long strips. These have a lower capacity but are better balanced
- Coil Magazine: These magazines accommodate nails strung together on long strings with wire. This type of magazine is better adapted to squeezing into tight spaces
Weight and Overall Comfort
The lighter your nail gun, the easier it will be to use for longer without straining yourself. This is doubly important if you’ll be doing lots of work overhead.
Make sure if you are looking for a compact and lightweight nailer that you don’t end up losing out with a flimsy unit not built to stay the distance.
All of the best framing nailers come in durable materials combining portability with durability so make sure you don’t get shortchanged.
Price will always be a factor in any purchasing decision but it should absolutely not be the determining factor.
Think about overall value, build quality and expected lifespan along with your intended purpose rather than focusing purely on the bottom line. Do this and you’ll get the best framing nailer for your specific needs the easy way.
Usage and Maintenance Tips
Nail guns are incredibly easy to keep on top of.
As with all power tools, make sure your gun is stashed safely when not in use and that you always clean it off before packing it away.
Use the case provided if you take your nailer out on the jobsite and take advantage of the hanging hook if provided to keep your tools safely off the floor and out of harm’s way.
Beyond that, as long as you don’t allow your gun to become caked up with sawdust and debris and you use it carefully, you should expect many years of practically maintenance-free nailing.