Posted by John on October 2nd, 2012
If you can’t tell, the whole home project thing is going a bit slowly at the moment. We do have a couple home improvement tricks up our sleeve yet, so don’t go anywhere! In the meantime, I thought I’d continue where I left off with our air compressor post last week. This time I thought I’d discuss air powered or pneumatic nail guns.
Nail guns are generally task orientated so you use the nail gun most appropriate to whatever you’re working on. For hobbyists that do a good amount of light carpentry work, this may be a brad nailer or maybe a finish nailer. If you’re framing up some 2x lumber while refinishing a basement or building a shed, then you’re going to want a framing nailer.
Here is a list of nail guns and how I’ve used them.
(via Porter Cable)
1. Brad Nailer. A brad nailer is pretty much the jack of all trades for hobbyists and DIYers. It shoot nails that range in length from around 1/2″ to 1 1/4″, maybe slightly longer depending upon the application. The nails are 18 ga, which if you’re not familiar with sizes the larger the number, the smaller the nail. I used a brad nailer to install all the baseboard and window trim in our first home. We also used one to assemble our sliding drawer project. You can’t use really long nails in these nor can you them to assemble 2×4’s or anything majorly large. There are a few different manufacturers on the market and the usually run around $100 new. This is a perfect first nail gun.
(via Porter Cable)
2. Finish Nailer. These nailers are a little bigger with 15 or 16 ga nails. They’re also capable of shooting much longer nails. These are more appropriate for specialty trim or carpentry projects. We used one to nail the MDF raised panel sections to the wall since the nail needed to go through 3/4″ thick MDF, 1/2″ thick drywall and then into the 2x wall stud. Price wise, they aren’t much more money than brad nailers.
(via Porter Cable)
3. Framing Nailers. These are some big nail guns. They shoot the regular flat head framing nails most of us are familiar with. They’re not very useful for smaller projects as they’re too powerful for window and door trim work. Framing nailers are a little more expensive than brad or finish nailers and can run around $200 for a new gun. They’re worth the price though considering how much time you can save framing up a basement or a home addition.
4. Pin Nailers. These guns are considerably smaller than even the brad nailers. If you can’t tell from the name, they shoot very small, very thin nails designed to not leave a noticeable nail hole on your project. The downside? They are delicate, somewhat easier to break and are not ideal for all projects. You can’t use this gun for most window or door trim projects, the nails just aren’t long or big enough to grip something heavy. These nail guns are absolutely perfect for attaching small, thin pieces of wood that would look stupid with big nail holes in them or would otherwise split from larger nails. Pin nailers are not cheap either. Good guns can cost you more than a decent framing nailer!!
5. Staplers. Staplers can be useful for certain application where nails just don’t provide adequate fastening. Like what? Well, like fabric or thin plywood. You can’t upholster a chair with nails, you need something to grab the fabric. The price for staplers is usually around the price of a brad nailer. I’ve never actually used one myself, but I haven’t worked on any projects that would require one.
Hope that helps to explain the basics of nail gun options. Any questions?
Posted by John on September 28th, 2012
Hope everyone is having a good week. With these days getting shorter, it’s becoming harder and harder to get work done outside. It’s tough to stay motivated. There are still a few outdoor tasks I’d like to take care of before it gets too cold.
One of the car related projects I’m going to try to knock out this weekend is restoring my headlights. You can use a corded or cordless drill for the required sanding, but I’ll be using a 90 degree die grinder, which is a pneumatic or air powered tool. This maybe the fifth or sixth different air powered tool I’ve used and talked about since I started blogging. I think it’s about time I discussed air tools and compressors. I’ll break this into two posts.
What You Need to Know About Air Compressors
If you’re planning on doing a good amount of home improvement and carpentry projects or you’re thinking about restoring a car or just doing some regular maintenance on your daily driver, you may want to purchase an air compressor. Air powered tools range from nail guns to impact wrenches and paint sprayers and can make whatever job you’re working on much, much easier. Nearly all air powered tools require a separate air source, which are generally air compressors. Air compressors come in a variety of sizes, capacities, configurations and price and it’s important you select the proper one for your job.
The best way to select an air compressor is to figure out what air tools you’ll be using and then you can narrow down your options further.
1. Pancake compressors. These smaller units are perfect for nail guns that aren’t going to be used in constant repetition. They’re lightweight and portable. They’re ideal for smaller jobs like installing door and window trim or hardwood floors. They’re also powerful enough for large framing nailers if you’re nailing 2x lumber. I used a pancake compressor and a framing nailer to build the walls for my shed and I’ll use it again when I refinish our basement. They cannot be used for spraying paint with an HVLP gun since these compressors are fine for small bursts of air, but not for prolonged uses. The price is usually pretty reasonable, running around $100-$300, although you can definitely find them cheaper on craigslist. Most often than not, if you buy them new, the air compressors come in kits with two or three nail guns. Pancake compressors are usually maintenance free, but have a shorter lifespan than ones that actually require maintenance.
2. Two tank compressors. I don’t think they’re called two tank compressors, but that’s what I’m going to call them. These are higher end versions of pancake compressors. They’re a little more powerful, a little pricier and are commonly used by contractors. They require regular maintenance, but can last longer than the pancake compressor. Generally, they still have the same tool usage restrictions, i.e., you shouldn’t paint with it. If you find a gently used model on ebay or craigslist, you may be in luck.
3. Large air compressors. These rock. They’re large for a reason. They can hold large amounts of air and are ideal for garage tools like impact wrenches for taking off lug nuts or painting cabinets or furniture with a paint gun. They can take multiple air tool connections so you and your friends can frame that basement wall up with a couple guns at the same time. The downside? They’re heavier and pricier. However, you can find new ones for roughly the same price as a new two tank model.
So that’s the basic variety of air compressors out there. I’d recommend a pancake compressor for you typical home DIYer if you’re thinking about picking one up.
Do you own a compressor? Are you thinking about getting one?