Air Nailers and Staplers

by The Carpenter

For large scale construction projects, few things will make the job go easier than using compressed air powered nailers and staplers. While a hammer may be okay for a small project, the air nailer can perform a thousand times more quickly without wearing the user out physically.

Air nailers and staplers are designed to be very long lasting tools as they do not require a motor or fuel source of their own to operate. The force used to drive the nails or staples is provided to the tool through a hose from a separate air compressor.

The sizes of air driven nailers and staplers vary according to the job they are designed for. Smaller guns are made with lower pounds-per-square-inch (PSI) pressure for driving small finishing nails into crown molding. Some of the largest made can drive a nail into metal support beams.

There are several delivery systems for the nails and staples. Strips are more common for nail delivery. The nails are fastened to plastic or heavy paper strips that are fed into the firing chamber one nail at a time. Others are fed through a coiled cartridge that will either hold individual nails along the coil or are made of a long coil of wire that cuts and injects the fastener as the trigger is depressed.

With there being the danger of the nail becoming a flying projectile, on average 37,000 people a year are treated for nail gun injuries annually in the United States alone, some air nailers and staplers have safety features included in their design. The most common safety device is the duel-action contact-trip trigger. This feature prevents the air nailer from firing unless the nose sensor and the trigger are depressed at the same time. A safer variation is the sequential-trip trigger which requires the nose depression before the trigger pull.

A recent development, which therefore makes a much more expensive air nailer, is the “Safe Nailer.” This air nailer has a capacitive sensor which can detect the lower mass ratio of human skin and lock the trigger mechanism until it is pointed away.

There are two types of firing mechanisms. In one, the least safe, the compressed air directly drives the nail or staple into the surface being fastened. The other method has a piston that is driven down by the air pressure which then contacts the nail and drives it home. These type air nailers and staplers are low power enough that the nail has little projectile force for traveling through the air while being quite sufficient to drive it into the wood or other material being fastened.

Since there are few moving parts and no motors to wear out in an air nailer or stapler, the primary things to look for are the safety features, nail feed mechanism, and sturdiness of the housing. By sticking with the name brand equipment that has a reputation for quality, you will only need to match your specific needs with the nail gun size for that task to have a versatile tool that will last for many years.

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