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Reader Email: Bargain bin flooring nailer?

comments (5) June 28th, 2010 in Blogs
JFink Justin Fink, Senior Editor




I got an email from a reader about the off-brand flooring nailer pictured in last issue's What's the Difference? on flooring fasteners. Here's the letter:


"Cleats vs. Staples" was a timely article for me as I am getting ready to put down 3/4" pre-finished oak in my family room, and then continue throughout the rest of the home. But I was surprised to see a picture of a Ramsond flooring nailer that sells for less than $200. No Bostitch?

I had never heard of Ramsond, so I did a little research on it, as well as Freeman and Akuzuki. All are made in China, all are less than $200, and there are lots of positive reviews out there to go around. I'd rather not spend $500 for a Bostitch nailer if there is a quality $200 model out there, but I'd prefer to hear a review from you guys instead of Amazon...

Thanks for a great magazine and keep up the great work.

Kevin S.

That's actually my Ramsond nailer in the photo, and I bought it for the exact reason you're describing. Years ago I was faced with 1,200 square feet of flooring to install, and I had to make a choice between buying a premium nailer, renting one for several days, or buying an off-brand. The premium tool was out of my budget, and since I could buy the Ramsond for the price of the rental, I decided to go for it.

People often argue about when it's OK to buy less expensive tools, and like any argument, there really isn't a concrete yes or no answer. I can tell you that in my case, the Ramsond paid for itself and then some. I don't do all that much flooring, but I've installed maybe 2,000 to 2,500 sq. ft. with this tool, and I recently loaned it to the infamous "There's a Better Way" founder Chuck Miller, as well as fellow editor Patrick McCombe, who is the former tool editor for Journal of Light Construction and currently handles Taunton's annual Tool Guide. Beyond a handful of jams, I've never had a problem and both Patrick and Chuck had only nice things to say. Your mileage may vary, but for me, it's been a fantastic bargain.

If other readers have tool related questions, suggestions, or comments, please email me via

posted in: Blogs, floors, nailers
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Comments (5)

Mike_Guertin Mike_Guertin writes: I have a dozen 'off brand' tools from framing nailers and flooring nailers to impact wrenches and grinders. Many are knockoffs of proven designs that have gone off patent. Take the Hitachi N83 nailer. A bulletproof tool that Hitachi still makes; but after it the patent ran out you could but 3 or 4 other off-brands that copied the same design. Many of the parts used in the off-brands are made by the same companies that supply Hitachi. I caniblized one off-brand tool to repair a couple Hitachis and everything was interchangable. I've seen the same happen with old Bostitch designs as well.

I wouldn't be surprised if the flooring nailers were old Bostitch or PneuTools designs that some company copied - hence they're pretty reliable. And if you can sort out what the gene line is, you can easily order the parent tool parts because getting parts for the off-brand tools is often a problem.

And if anyone's in the market for a flooring nailer specifically, check out the Harbor Freight flooring nailer for $149. It'll shoot T cleats, L cleats and staples - so now matter what your preference is, it's got you covered. And at that price, it'll pay for itself on the first job.
Posted: 11:25 am on July 11th

bigshow_33 bigshow_33 writes: Rocketj, I am not a flooring expert but am a builder in Ontario, Canada. The new home warranty program here (Tarion) recommends nails over staples but I can't remember why.
Posted: 4:15 pm on July 6th

Rocketj Rocketj writes: Rob, Found myself in a similar situation a couple years ago. Bought a Grizzly floor stapler (currently on sale for $159 I recall) for 199 and it worked fine. Used it a few times more and still have no problems. Comes with shoe plates for different thickness flooring material. Haven't noticed the poppet issue you mention, and so far only used it on pre-finished. One of my carpenters (Amish) just borrowed it to do a 600-650 sq ft floor (pre-finished) and his only problem was it jammed once. He's used it here, so he just added more oil and it worked fine. He may have over oiled it (is that possible) because I note oily discharge from the exhaust ports and wonder if it could stain unfinished wood - will have to clean it and keep an eye out. At the time I was deciding, your article was not out yet, so I went with the wisdom that said staples had twice the grab (twice the 'nail'). Years ago the comment was that staples were coated with a glue that melted with the frictional heat of penetration, then re-set. Is that still the case? There was no mention of that in your piece. And, any comments on Grizzly floor staplers/nailers? Their staples are about half the price of the national lumber yard store (can I mention Lowe's here?).
Posted: 4:09 pm on July 5th

JFink JFink writes: Hey Rob,
I'm not sure if it has a poppet valve...what is the alternative? I read through the product literature but didn't find a mention.

I did have some trouble with prefinished flooring, so I bought a Nailer Shoe, which is an aftermarket base plate that places the impact of the nailer against the tongue of the wood, rather than on the more delicate edge above the tongue. With this shoe I've had no problems.

Posted: 2:48 pm on June 28th

RYagid RYagid writes: Great post, Justin. As you know I recently wrapped up an article with Charlie Peterson on installing prefinished wood flooring. Since extreme care needs to be taken when installing prefinished products he recommends staying away from nailers with poppet type valve systems. Here's a quote from his piece...

"Almost all manufacturers of flooring nailers use a poppet type valve system. The harder you hit the gun the more the valve opens, which lets more air in to drive the piston. It’s difficult to control the penetration of the fastener this way, because if you don’t hit the gun hard enough you’ll insufficiently sink the fastener. On the other hand, if you hit the gun too hard, the piston can come into contact with the wood and crack the tongue[and subsequently damage the finish."

With that said, what type of valve system does this off-brand gun have, and would you recommend using it to install prefinished flooring? If you have used it to install prefinished product, did you run into any issues?
Posted: 1:37 pm on June 28th

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