How to Choose a Framing Nailer

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Senco FramePro 702XP
Senco FramePro 702XP (Image: http://www.senco.com/con_rem/ViewTool.aspx?toolid=146)

A well-made framing nailer will pound away project after project without fail. And a framing nailer is a versatile tool that can be used for many types of projects. The fact is that, when speaking of pneumatic tools in general, and framing nailers specifically, you get what you pay for. You may be able to find a screaming deal on a really cheap framing nailer, but you will find yourself replacing it in a month or two. Stick with researching reputable pneumatic tool brands, and you are sure to find one that is right for you.

Things You'll Need

  • Internet access (optional)
  • Hardware store that offers high-quality tools

Determine that the size and scope of your project list justifies the use and need of a framing nailer. A framing nailer is the single largest pneumatic nail gun on the market, and you do not want to use a framing nailer when a finish nailer or a brad nailer will suffice. Examples of projects that would justify the use of a framing nailer include: Siding, Framing, Decking, Fencing, Pallets and Pallet Repair, Sidewall Sheathing, Subflooring, Trusses, Framing and Sheathing, and Crate and Box Assembly. If your project is not included in the list above, do not fret. Think your project through again. If you feel that your project justifies using a framing nailer, then continue on. If not, stop here and begin looking at either a finish nailer or a brad nailer.

Most framing nailers are pneumatic nailers, meaning that they are air-driven. They require the use of an air compressor. And because they require a lot of air over long periods of time, small capacity air compressors (under 10 gallon tanks) are not a good fit for a framing nailer. A small-capacity air compressor will probably push a framing nailer, but because the framing nailer uses so much air with each nail driven, a small air compressor will have to recharge itself often resulting in excess wear and tear on the pump and other components. Framing nailers work well with air compressors that have a tank capacity of at least 25 gallons. If you do not have a large capacity air compressor, plan on buying one. Use the Internet to help research manufacturers and specs before shopping.

Buy a framing nailer with an operating pressure rating of 70 to 120 psi. Actual working pressure usually does not exceed 90 psi, then the option to work with higher and lower pressures is a desireable feature.

Look for a framing nailer that will accept multiple nail types and multiple shank diameters. A good framing nailer will drive 2 inch to 3 1/2 inch smooth shank nails and 2 to 3 inch ring shank nails. Shank diameters include: 113, .120, .131 and .148.

Compare warranties offered by different manufactures. Longer warranties are (obviously) better. Warranty coverage should also be considered. Take advantage of extended service plans if available.

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