Ditch the Hose
Battery-powered cordless framing nailers are almost good enough to replace pneumatics—for some, they already have.
Synopsis: Gas-fired framers are no longer the only cordless option. Deputy editor Matthew Millham researches and tests three brands of cordless framers, assessing the speed, consistency, magazine capacity, and housing of the 30¡ and 21¡ tools.
There are two reasons I buy tools that require cords or hoses. Sometimes, that’s all there is. More often, it’s to save money—and that almost always ends up costing me. The inconvenience of running extension cords or dragging out compressors and hoses often overwhelms the satisfaction of saving a few bucks. And if I find myself using the less-expensive tool more than anticipated, I end up buying the cordless version anyway.
After going through that dumb routine at least a half-dozen times, I developed a credo I apply to every new tool purchase: Never buy a corded tool when a cordless tool will do.
Until recently, I didn’t think that really applied to framing nailers. The gas-fired Paslode nailers that have been around seemingly forever are fine for small jobs, but nobody considers them a replacement for pneumatics. But gas-fired framers aren’t the only cordless option these days. There are now a handful of battery-operated framers that, depending on the kind of work you do, could conceivably replace pneumatics entirely without any loss of productivity. For those not already invested in compressors and hoses or those just starting out, these tools could even save you money.
This isn’t to say that battery-operated framers are as good as pneumatics across the board. Some models are more adept than others or have quirks that people have learned to work around, which I’ll share here. But for those who thought cordless nailers would never be able to keep up with pneumatics, at least one new tool could change your mind.
DeWalt DCN692/DCN21PLB slow but reliable convenience
DeWalt was the first manufacturer in the battery-operated framer game with the now discontinued DCN690, but the more versatile 30° DCN692 is largely unchanged since its 2014 U.S. debut. They’ve since added a 21° version.
The DeWalt nailers use a brushless-motor-driven flywheel to give the pop needed to drive framing nails, and they have two speeds: slow, to conserve power with shorter and thinner nails, and fast for longer and fatter nails. They also have two firing modes, sequential and bump, and a trigger lock to help prevent accidental wind-up or discharge.
The tools are nominally powered by DeWalt’s 20v Max batteries, though those who’ve had a lot of experience with the nailers find the 20v batteries lacking.
Matthew Millham is deputy editor. Photos by Rodney Diaz.
From Fine Homebuilding #297
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