Are you a professional woodworker or a hobbyist? Have you started a DIY project that requires a nail gun? In any case, knowing the difference between the types of nail guns can make your life easy.
There are 3 main types based on their functionality and design. These can be further divided into 9 different types of nail guns based on their use. So, in today’s post, we will talk about each one in great detail. Read more!
Table of Contents
What is a Nail Gun?
A nail gun is an alternative for hammering nails into a workpiece. The power tool has a rotating tip and magazine that pushes the nail to the surface in seconds. You don’t have to swing a hammer or apply force on anything.
Just place the nail gun on the target point and press the button. This makes your work quick and effortless. Plus, the nail gun has better precision and accuracy than the traditional hammering method. Your hand won’t miss the nail and damage the surrounding surfaces.
If you are a frequent DIY-er, having a nail gun can potentially save you a lot of money and time on small repairs. You can fix minor issues in furniture and appliances without an expert. But, to make the best use of a nail gun, you should select the right type.
The 3 Main Types of Nail Guns
All nail guns have the same purpose – push the nails into the surface. However, the way a nail gun fulfills this purpose depends on its design. Here is a brief overview of the 3 main designs found in nail guns:
1. Electric Nail Guns
These nail guns use electric energy as their power source. This may come from:
- Lithium-ion Batteries
Nail guns with lithium-ion batteries are called cordless nail guns. They aren’t restricted to the availability of a power outlet to function. Just press the button and get to work.
You aren’t limited to working around a certain area either. It’s possible to take the gun wherever you want because there is no cord. However, the battery charge lasts about an hour or two.
- Power Outlet
Corded nail guns have a long wire that needs to be linked to a power outlet. This ensures a smooth, endless flow of electric energy. You don’t have to pause the work to recharge the batteries or anything.
But there should be a power outlet available near your workspace. You also need to make sure the wire connection is not disrupted while you move the nail gun around your project.
2. Pneumatic Nail Guns
Pneumatic nail guns rely on compressed air to hammer the nail. There are piston cylinders inside the gun (sometimes, only one) that quickly move up and down with the aid of an air compressor.
It’s why most people refer to it as an air-powered nail gun. The biggest advantage of this type is that you don’t need any batteries or power outlets. You can use it anywhere and anytime.
Also, since the air is free and available in excess, pneumatic nail guns are eco-friendly. They are safe to use in inflammable environments because air is not combustible.
3. Fuel-Powered Nail Guns
The fuel-powered nail guns were first invented in 1986 by the Paslode company. They called it the Impulse for a very long time. Now, people call them either fuel-powered nail guns or gas nail guns.
There is a small gas cartridge inside the gun with butane. When you press the Start button, this chamber releases the gas while the battery gives the power. This causes the gas fuel to burn and produce a lot of power that pushes the nail to the surface.
Gas nail guns are considered to be much faster and more efficient than pneumatic nail guns. But they are not eco-friendly and may cause a fire in inflammable environments.
Types of Nail Guns Based on Application
There are different nails used on different surfaces. For example, thick nails are used on wood floorboards, and thin, delicate nails are used on vinyl panels. While you can use a single hammer on all of them, you will need a different type of nail gun for each.
So, before you buy a nail gun, read this list of the common types of nail guns based on application!
1. Pin Nail Gun
Pin nailers are ideal for discreet installation. They use 23-gauge nails, which are thin enough to resemble pins. They are usually an inch long and don’t have flat heads.
So, if you want to hide the use of nails in a project, you can use a pin nail gun. But bear in mind that it works with thin surfaces only. You cannot use it to secure thick wood panels or concrete.
Instead, you can use it to reinforce panels glued together. Most people use it for small furniture making, crown molding, and finishing work.
2. Brad Nail Gun
A Brad nail gun is a slightly heavy-duty version of a pin gun. It typically uses an 18-gauge nail that has stronger holding power and resistance. You can use it for interior trims, light crown moldings, cabinetry, and minor furniture repairs.
However, brad nailers are not suitable for large and heavy work. You cannot expect hardwood panels to stick together using them because the nails are too thin for the purpose. They are likely to bend and come loose.
3. Palm Nail Gun
As the name suggests, a palm nailer fits into the palm of your hand. It is small, round, and doesn’t have long handles like the standard nail guns. This specialized build makes it perfect for installing nails in narrow and tight spaces.
But, since it’s so small, there is no magazine to store nails. You will have to place nails one at a time.
4. Roofing Nail Gun
Roofing nail guns are built to install nails in all kinds of roofs. It doesn’t matter whether the material is vinyl, fiber cement, asphalt, or an insulation board. The roofing nailer will push in 0.75 to 1.75-inches nails easily into the surface.
They also come with a canister rather than a magazine. This allows them to store a larger number of nails and reduce the reloading time.
5. Flooring Nail Gun
Also called hardwood nail guns, they are used for fixing nails into the floors. These are heavy-duty machines with an L or T-shaped front. This enables them to push the nail at the right angle and depth.
It’s only recommended to use a flooring nailer if you are a professional or have to install hardwood flooring and similar thick materials. Otherwise, a staple gun can also be used for flooring.
6. Framing Nail Gun
Framing nail guns are industrial tools that drive 3.5-inches thick nails. You can use these guns to construct patios, decks, fences, and even buildings. They can easily join 2x4s and 2x6s together.
You can find them with different nail storage capacities. The framing nailer with a large capacity will cost more than the others.
7. Siding Nail Gun
Most people use a framing or roofing nail gun to install sidings. But the specialized siding nail gun is more efficient than them. It uses a smaller nail size of 1.5 to 2.5 inches that holds the material well.
It’s also lightweight and small. So you won’t get tired while working on thin wood or synthetic panels.
8. Finishing Nail Gun
A finishing nail gun is not for adding finishing touches to a carpentry project, nor is it for installing nails in tight spaces. But, it is for securing large finishing pieces to the surface, like door trims, molding, and baseboards.
It uses 15 to 16-gauge thick nails that have more strength and withdrawal resistance. These finish nailers hold the large and heavy pieces together easily. But they also leave behind visible holes and marks that need to be covered.
Unlike most nail guns, finishing guns aren’t versatile and won’t work on lighter wood pieces. If you do so, the thin wood will splinter and break with the impact.
9. Staple Nail Gun
Lastly, staple guns are used to drive staples into different surfaces. They don’t look like a standard nail gun. Nor do they use actual nails. But they are excellent for securing fasteners to materials that are too thin and sensitive.
For example, you can use the staple gun to fix carpets to the walls (soundproofing) or secure upholstery to the chair frame. You can also use the staple gun for light woodworking projects like birdhouses.
Since an actual nail can cause the material to tear and split, a staple nail gun would be ideal. It will combine the materials together using heavy-duty staple pins.
To sum it up, there are 12 different types of nail guns. They can be categorized into types based on design and application. We have already discussed each one of them in detail above.
But, to anyone just getting started into woodworking, we recommend them to invest in a staple gun, brad nail gun, and framing nail gun. These three nail guns will help you tackle a variety of projects easily.
How many different types of nail guns do you have? What types would you suggest to beginners? Let us know in the comments below!