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Choosing a Reliable Framing Nailer – What You Must Know


A nail gun could be the smartest tool to own when you must drive many nails quickly and consistently. In fact, the best framing nailers allow you to sink thousands of framing nails in a day with accuracy. However, which one is the right choice for you?

With so many products on the market, it can be hard to find the right framing nailer. Metabo offers a great value and might be one of the top tools out there. However, it’s still a good idea to learn about the different options, compare them, and learn about the many power sources available to you.

Types of Pneumatic Nailers

Nailers are sometimes called nail guns and are available in strip and coil loading configurations.

Coil nailers are sometimes referred to as siding nailers. They use flexible nail strings joined with wires to form a round magazine. Often, these options are more compact and fit into various places that other models can’t. These nailers can even hold more nails than others, so you drive more of them before having to reload.

Strip nailers often use magazines that are arranged on a slender, long strip or cartridge. It slides into the gun. Typically, strips of plastic, wire, or paper hold your nails together, which distributes the weight more evenly so that they are easy to handle. Overall, electric nailers that use strips work easier than a coil version.

Comparing Pneumatic Nailer Options

Nailers are versatile and effective. Some models are great for high-volume applications, but you can use a heavy-duty nailer for smaller jobs, too.

  • Framing nailers often handle large projects, such as framing houses, constructing room additions, or building decks.

  • A finish nailer is lighter than a framing nailer and works well for installing cabinets, molding, trim, or assembling furniture.

  • Tackers, brad nailers, and staplers are suitable for precision work because they are more compact than a framing nailer. However, they need specialty nails.

  • Roofing nailers apply roof shingles.

  • Flooring nailers can speed up the process of installing hardwood floors.

  • Palm nailers are handheld, small tools that drive nails into tight spaces. They don’t have any onboard nail storage, so you must reload after driving in each nail.

Power Sources for Framing Nailers

The power source of your nailer determines the type of work it handles and the mobility of the tool. Overall, a pneumatic nailer uses compressed air to drive nails from an air compressor. The compressor ratings for pressure are measured in pounds per square inch and volume, which is measured in CFM or cubic feet per minute.

If you want to run other air tools along with pneumatic nailers, make sure your compressor can handle the load. While a pneumatic nailer is a powerful tool and handles heavy-duty tasks, the air hose does limit mobility. Check out this air compressor buying guide for more information.

A cordless nailer offers more mobility than pneumatic and corded ones. It’s a battery-powered gun with a quicker startup time, but it might not provide as much driving power as your pneumatic gun.

Cordless and fuel-driven nailers must use gas combustion to drive the nails. The battery gives the electric charge needed to ignite the fuel, and you don’t need hoses or cords. Therefore, it might be suitable for heavy-duty jobs because it’s capable of driving big fasteners into harder materials.

Nailer Firing Methods

It is crucial to understand different firing methods for nailers to help you choose a tool that meets your needs. Manufacturers might use various terms for firing methods. With most nailers, the firing method focuses on the operation of the safety tip and trigger. Here are the things to know:

  • Bump (contact) firing lets you rapidly drive your nails in succession. If you’re holding the trigger down, each bump of your safety tip against the surface fires the nail. This firing option speeds up production but might be harder to control. There’s a high risk of unintentionally firing than with any other method.

  • Single-sequential firing ensures that you don’t accidentally bump-fire the nails. You have to operate your trigger and safety tip in sequence to fire your nail. Then, you may keep the safety tip pressed to the work surface, reactivating the trigger for subsequent nails.

  • Single-actuation firing is similar to single-sequential firing. However, to fire that first nail, you must operate the trigger/safety tip in any order you want. Therefore, you may bump-fire your first nail.

  • Full-sequential firing is safer because it requires sequential activation of your safety tip and trigger for each firing of the nail. In a sense, you can’t bump-fire at all. If you want to fire multiple nails, you must release the trigger and tip after that first nail, reactivating them in the right sequence to do so again. Though you can’t work quickly here, it’s a safer way to operate your nail gun.

  • Smaller nailers are trigger-operated and don’t use safety tips. They use dual or single triggers to fire a staple or nail. With the single-trigger tool, you pull your trigger to drive a nail. Dual-trigger tools really require you to pull each trigger in the right sequence. Some nailers let you select your firing method based on the project.

Choosing Your Nails

The nails used in a power nailer are joined with wire, plastic, or paper. Some use clipped heads that help the nails sit close together in a more solid line. Others use long strands to secure them with flexible wire. Often, they use a layer of adhesive or lubricant.

When the nail makes contact with the surface, the compound heats up to lubricate the nail. As the compound cools, the nail is bonded to the surface to increase its holding strength.

Features to Consider

Once you know what type of nailer gives you a great value and works best for the project at hand, consider these features for nailers and other air compressor tools to help you stay productive:

  • A directional exhaust system allows you to channel the nail gun’s exhaust. This is valuable when you’re working in a dusty environment. While some exhausts offer tool-free depth adjustment, others require a tool.

  • Jam-clearing systems can simplify maintenance and prevent the nails from getting wedged into the machine.

  • Depth adjustment ensures that you can control how far into the surface the nail goes. This prevents your nails from sinking too deep or protruding. Some nailers require a tool for that, but you can find tool-less depth adjustment options.

  • A large trigger is easier to operate when wearing gloves.

  • Carrying cases can protect your nailer from damage while moving it around.

  • A swiveling air connector on a pneumatic nailer can reduce tangles in the air hose. That way, you can move it out of your way when it’s time to reload.

  • A protective guard can prevent damage to your tool and even protect your body from flying debris. Guards wear out with time, so make sure they are easily replaceable.

  • A nail size adjustment feature lets you switch tasks more quickly.

  • Onboard lights can improve the visibility of your workspace.

Safety While Using Nail Guns

All power tools require attention for use, and nailers aren’t an exception. Here is some basic safety information to consider:

  • Inspect your nailer and replace/repair damaged parts before using it.

  • Don’t alter a nailer.

  • Wear safety equipment, such as safety glasses.

  • Keep your body parts away from the firing area. Use clamps to secure workpieces together.

  • Disconnect your tool from the power supply (air compressor) before doing maintenance, clearing a jam, or making adjustments.

  • Don’t point your tools at animals or people.

  • Keep everyone away when you’re operating the nailer.

  • Don’t use nailers near flammable liquids or gases.


What Nail Gun Is Best for Framing?

You must choose the right framing nailer. Metabo is an excellent brand, but Bostitch, Metabo, and Dewalt are also great choices.

What's the Difference Between a Framing Nailer and a Finish Nailer?

There are a few differences to note between a framing nailer and a finish nailer. Overall, framing nailers make a large impact on what you’re nailing, so you might have more filling work to do. However, a finish nailer uses small nails, so they don’t leave such large holes.

Another difference between a framing nailer and a finish nailer is accuracy. Framing guns are less precise than a finishing nailer. That’s because of the job it does. Finishing nailers can build furniture, but you can use them to fasten panels, baseboards, trim, and molding.

A framing nailer is more for larger projects, where the nails aren’t seen, and the work isn’t finished yet.

What Size Nails Does a Framing Nailer Use?

A framing nailer can work with roundhead or clipped nails. With that, a framing nailer often uses 16-gauge nails that are 3.5 inches long. Technically, they’re called penny nails.

Why Do Framing Nailers Have Different Angles?

A framing nailer is in the 15-degree group if they’re wire-coil collated, and they use full round heads that secure better than clipped varieties.

However, you can also get a 28-degree framing nailer, which uses full or clipped nails. Generally, the angle determines the type of nail you use, but it also helps the machine get into tighter spaces.


Choosing a pancake air compressor for your framing nailer is an easy task. Now that you understand what a framing nailer does, you have a better idea of when to use it. If you’re want to buy one, now is the time. However, just make sure that the compressor and the nailer are compatible for the best results.

Picture of Daniel Lewis

Daniel Lewis

Live in Chicago Illinois.
A contractor with10 years of experience.
Works with air compressors for various uses.

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