What Type of Nail Gun Is Best for Framing?

By: John Perritano  | 

nail gun
Nail guns are great are time and energy savers. photovs/Getty Images

When it comes to power tools, there's nothing more amazing than the pneumatic nail gun. These guns use compressed air to drive nails into surfaces. The concept is relatively simple: Air, under great pressure, forces the nail out of the gun at a tremendous velocity and into the wood, embedding the nail deeply and accurately. Nail guns are a must-have if you're a carpenter. These high-power tools are time and energy savers.

Yet, not all nail guns are created equal. Some, like coil nailers, are small, and often used by roofers. Others, such as framing guns, are larger and more powerful. Now that you know the difference, let's take a quick look at how to use a framing gun.

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Air guns are indispensable when framing. Most carpenters build frames as they lay on the ground. They'll simply nail both ends of the studs horizontally into the joists. When the frame is completed, it will be raised and nailed to the plate.

When building a frame, load your gun with a cartridge of 3-inch (8-centimeter) nails. Once loaded, put oil on the nail cartridge to ensure the nail smoothly evacuates the gun. Also, oil the connection to the air hose by putting a few drips in the connection's opening. Then connect the gun to the air hose. Your nail gun is now armed and dangerous.

Sometimes, you might have to use a nail gun to toenail studs into the joist. Place the nail at a 45-degree angle between the two pieces of wood. You don't want to be too far back from the joist. The nail won't reach it. You don't want to be too close, either. Otherwise the nail won't grip the stud. To make this as easy as possible, the framing nail gun has teeth that will grip the timber. Once in place, hold the gun firmly and pull the trigger to discharge the nail out of the gun and into the stud through to the wood. You need two nails on each side of the stud, and you should make sure that the stud and joist are lined up after driving each nail through.

With an average of about five seconds per nail compared to a minute per nail with a hand-held hammer, using a nail gun is quicker and easier than using a hammer. If the tip of the gun is positioned correctly and at the right angle, you won't need to go back and try again if the nail isn't hit with precision, as might happen with a framing hammer. The proper use of the framing nail gun makes for strong walls and flooring.

As always, it's safety first when using a nail gun. Safety glasses and other precautionary measures are essential to make sure those nails go only where they are supposed to.

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Originally Published: Jul 25, 2011

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