Ever need the help of a 4-in. carpenter, or a helper to drive the first nail when you’re installing cabinets? Here’s a useful addition to your tool kit that can help you drive those nails in tight places — the pea-shooter.
The pea-shooter (see drawing) consists of three inexpensive and easy-to-assemble parts: the handle, the driving rod and the holder. The handle should weigh about 3 lb. and have a rounded end that’s comfortable to grip. A lead casting, a bumper hitch ball or a steel bar all make good handles.
The driving rod is about 30 in. long and should be a piece of oil or water-hardened drill rod. Mild steel rod can be used, but won’t last as long. For 16d and 20d nails, use a 3/8-in. rod. For 8d and smaller, use 5/16-in. rod. One end of the rod is secured by welding to a steel ball or notched and cast in a lead handle. A steel handle can be secured to the rod with setscrews, which also allows the rod to be easily replaced. The end of the rod that strikes the nail should be hardened by heating it over a natural gas flame until it is brownish purple, and then quenching it immediately in oil or water.
The holder is a piece of tubing or pipe with a 1/2-in. or 3/8-in. inside diameter (depending on the driving rod) with a relatively thick wall. The length should be exactly the same as the length of the driving rod, excluding the handle.
To use the pea-shooter, draw back the driving rod into the holder, insert a nail into the end of the tube, and place the end of the tube where you want a driven nail. A few blows with the driving rod and the nail is home for good.
Dave Jochner, South San Francisco, CA