Nail guns now come in as many varieties as manual hammers. In this HowTo we will cover how to select and use a framing nail gun.
There are 3 basic factors in your choice of a nail gun.
1) Will you use Full Round Head Nails or Clipped Head Nails
Round Head Nails have a higher holding capacity then clipped head nails. For this reason many municipalities require their use in general home framing.
For framing I will always suggest a full head nail even if the inspectors say that they will accept a clipped head. There is no reason to use a clipped head nail other then reload time. If this means the contractor has to reload their gun 5 extra times a day the security in knowing your house has a better chance in a hurricane is worth the extra 10 minutes a day.
2) What angle head should your gun have.
The angle of the gun is measured as the difference between the surface the nail will enter and the angle of the nail as it is loaded in the cartridge.
Round head nails require a 20 to 22 degree head.
If you are going to use a Clipped head nail then you will have 2 additional choices of 28 and 34 degrees. The difference is how compact the gun is and how many nails that the gun can hold.
The higher the degree the more nails. A 21 degree gun can hold about 60 nails and a 34 deg gun can hold about 40% more.
3) What type of Fastener do you need to use.
Framing nail guns can shoot a variety of common variety nails. The term common nail is meant to describe the shape and head of the nail. They can come with different features such as galvanized or glue coatings and can come in standard or ring shank.
Not all nail guns can shoot all nail varieties but all will shoot a common coated nail. This is due to the way the gun is made at the head or tip. If you know that most of your work will require Ring Shank Nails you should make sure that the gun you choose can shoot them.
As you can see most of the decisions are based on the type of fastener that you need to shoot.
There are other factors when buying a nail gun that you should also consider. What length nail will you be shooting. Most framing guns will shoot from a 2-1/2 to 3” nail but there are times when you may need something just outside the standard range. Watch the specs when you make your choice to give you the largest variety of options.
Fastener Connector or Collation Type. Most guns now shoot a paper collated nail but some shoot a string of nails that is welded to a wire. Personally I would stay away from the wire collated nails because they tend to jam but it is your decision.
The Weight of the gun. Newer guns are made with a magnesium head to reduce the weight of the gun. Honestly for the extra $20 you will thank yourself at the end of every work day. Not only will it reduce stress but it will allow you to position the gun much faster and more accurately.
Trigger Safety Type. This is a very important safety factor. Some guns will allow the user to depress the trigger and stamp the guns tip against the wood to shoot like an Automatic. This is extremely dangerous when operated by an IDIOT. Some Gun Makers provide an adapter to switch between Semi Auto and manual where you need to first depress the tip then pull the trigger. Again this is your choice but once you have worked on a variety of crews you will feel much safer if everyone is using manual trigger mechanisms.
Contractors should be careful to read the warranty information for their tool. Some manufacturers restrict warranty coverage if the tool is used by contractors. It is not unusual to see tools that are primarily used only by professionals advertised with 3 or 5 year or even limited Lifetime warranty but if you check closer you might find that only home use is covered for this extended period and if the tool is used for business then the warranty is only 1 year.
Check the facts before you buy your tool and check if your tool can be serviced locally or if you must mail it to the manufacture.