Different Types of Nailers and their Uses

Nail guns, in general, serve one specific purpose; driving nails into wood pieces and other materials. A nail gun replaces a manual hammer, saving both your time and energy. Nail guns drive nails faster than manual hammers which is essential for modern carpentry, roofing, and framing jobs. The nails are arranged in a strip or coil, making it easy for you to carry many nails each time.

Nailers use a piston that is either powered by a battery, compressed air, or electric power to fire nails into the material. Usually, there are two types of firing mechanisms;

i. Contact/bump firing

When it comes to contact firing, the nail will fire as long as the trigger is pulled and the nose is held down against the workpiece. This allows you to fire a series of nails without having to release the trigger each time.

ii. Sequential firing

This method requires that you release the trigger first before firing each nail. The nose must be pressed onto the surface for the trigger to function, making this method a bit safer.

There are different types of nailers+, and as such, you should first know their uses before you make your choice. Typically the name of the nail gun relates to the kind of projects the tool can perform. Having a good understanding of the different types of nailers available on the market will come in handy, especially when you want to do work around the house.

Types of Nailers

I. Framing nailer

A framing nailer is considerably the heaviest nail gun, and it is primarily used for heavy-duty construction, building and manufacturing projects. A framing requires nails which are usually 2½" – 3½" in length and it is perfect for driving nails into 2X4's.

In addition, it can either have a rounded or clipped head. A clipped head nailer holds more nails than the rounded one making it ideal for high volume projects. These include; general residential construction, deck building, wood sheathing, wood siding, fences, and framing houses.

Framing nailers offer tool-free depth adjustment that enables you to set the driving depth as well as interchangeable contact and sequential trip firing mechanisms. Contact or bump firing is used when you want to fire several nails quickly. Sequential firing as the name suggests follows the stipulated sequence to fire nails, and it is the safest and most recommended style of firing.

II. Finish nailer

A Finish nailer is much smaller than a framing nailer but fairly more extensive than a brad nailer, making it your best all-around nailer. It uses 1″ to 2½" nails, usually 14-16 gauge, which is little beefier than brad nails. This enables it to have a little bit more holding power required for heavy-duty woodwork. Generally, they are used for; cabinetry, crown molding around doors and windows, baseboards, trim work, paneling, and interior moldings.

The accuracy and precision firing of a finish nailer make it ideal for these kinds of jobs. Also, it usually has an angular design which allows it to reach tight areas and other hard to reach places. Besides, most models feature a tool-free depth drive adjustment allowing you to tackle a wide range of home improvement applications.

Finish nailers are also efficient for light-duty projects such as small crowns, and they are widely available as both corded and cordless tools. Also, with advancements in technology, lithium-ion nailers are becoming more popular, especially for DIYers who need to use a nailer for a short period.

III. Brad Nailer

The brad nailer is arguably the most versatile nail gun for DIYers. It shoots ultra-thin 18-gauge brads, hence the name brad nailer. The brads range from 5/8" to 2″ in length, and they provide enough holding power for; trim work, general household repairs, upholstery, and small woodworking projects including jewelry box and bird cages.

Also, a brad nailer is used for projects that require optimum accuracy, such as when installing lightweight trim. Besides, the brads are so thin, which is especially important when installing molds and trims without splinting them. Also, the holes they create are barely invisible, and you may not need to fill them.

Just like finish nailers, brad nailers are available in both cordless and corded forms, but the magazine design is not angled.

IV. Pin nailer/Pinner

A pin nailer is one of the smallest and most delicate nail guns, and it is generally used for finishing in carpentry jobs. The tool uses 23-gauge headless nails/pins, although small-headed pins are also available. These pins offer little holding power, and usually, they are used together with adhesive to hold materials temporarily in place.

Essentially, pinners are used on delicate pieces where larger nail guns would split the workpieces. These include; thin veneers, delicate trim pieces, upholstery work, small furniture trim, and making wooden toys. It is a finesse tool, and its ability to drive nails exactly where they are required is its main selling point.

V. Roofing nailer

Much like a framing nailer, a roofing nailer is a heavy-duty nail gun, typically used by professional contractors to drive roofing materials at lightning speeds. It is also used to nail down asphalt shingles, fiberglass, and other types of roofs.

The depth drive adjustment enables you to control the depth at which the gun drives the nails into the singles. Shingles are relatively soft, and as such too much driving force might damage them. Also, the nails used in a roofing nailer have a large flat head to ensure that they do not go through the shingle.

The nails usually come on a coil instead of a straight clip which enables you to carry more nails for extended projects. It also helps improve the tool's ergonomics allowing you to have a better hold while working on a roof.

VI. Flooring nailer

A flooring nailer is not your ordinary nail gun. It is not as versatile as other nailers, and it is specially designed for one specific job; to allow for quick tongue laying groove floorboards. Using a flooring nailer is better than toenailing by far as it ensures that the nails or cleats are driven at the right angle and depth all the time. The operator is only required to hold the nailer at the edge of the board and use a nylon mallet to hit the plunger moderately to drive the nails.

VII. Palm nailer

A palm nailer is the perfect definition of a mini nail gun, and as the name suggests, they are designed to rest on the palm of your hand. It works as a full-sized model but on as much small scale. And, because of its small size, a palm nailer is exceptionally accurate when it comes to precise positioning. This also makes them perfect for small projects and tight spots.

Palm nailers use ordinary nails, like the ones used with a regular hammer, and they vary between 1 ½" to 3 ½ "in length. These nailers are usually available in electric, pneumatic and cordless forms. The cordless variations provide more portability while the pneumatic and electric variations are ideal for projects that will run for an extended period

Palm nailers come with a strap that wraps around your hand for convenience and comfort during use. Besides, it helps to reduce fatigue, especially when you have to work for longer periods, and they are much easier to operate.

VIII. Siding nailer

The siding nailer is the recent innovation in the nail gun family. A siding nailer is designed to fire siding nails to install siding or to hold the siding up for an extended period. Just like a framing nailer, this powerful tool joins larger pieces together to form a wooden mount.

Although you can use a framing nailer to do siding, the nails used in a framing nailer are relatively longer than what is required for siding installation. Siding nails range between 1-1/4″ – 2-1/2″ and they have wider heads. Another defining characteristic of a siding nailer is its soft-tip which provides the ideal power for both soft and hard materials while keeping the siding materials safe. Aluminum nails are also available to allow for aluminum siding.

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