Choosing the Right Framing Nailer
Narrowing this broad market starts with a decision about which nails you'll be shooting.
Synopsis: When it comes to framing nailers, the field is so large and wide-ranging that it’s almost impossible to find common ground on which to compare them in a tool test. For most carpenters who need to purchase a new tool, the best approach becomes determining which style of framing nailer best suits their needs. As builder Michael Springer writes, you first need to decide what nails you’ll be using before you purchase a framing nailer. These tools come in two styles, coil and stick. Coil nailers dispense coils of nails welded to thin wire; stick nailers shoot nails that have been assembled in angled sticks of 25 to 40 nails. Nail heads are either clipped or offset round. According to Springer, the must-have features for a quality framing nailer are good balance and feel; an aluminum or magnesium body; a selective-fire setting; and good depth-of-drive adjustment. Handy perks include nose magnets, built-in air filters, and nonmarring nose caps.
Builders often ask for tool tests of framing nailers, but all the variations on the market make that a tall order to fill. There are stick nailers with 20°-, 28°-, and 30°-magazine angles, not to mention coil nailers. Some tools max out at 3¼-in. nails, some at 3½-in. nails, and some at 4-in. nails or longer. Some tools shoot full round-head nails, clipped-head nails, or both. With the variety of models available from the major pneumatic brands, power-tool companies, and lower-cost clone and private-label manufacturers, the framing-nailer category must represent 100 or more tools. Here, my goal is to condense all the relevant information about these nailers into a brief guide, highlighting the latest technologies and features these tools have to offer.
It all starts with the nails
Picking a framing nailer starts with knowing the nails you’ll be shooting. You want…