It’s not until you demo an old cottage that has been hand nailed with hardwood that you realize how different things would have been in the times before nail guns. Imagine having to drive every nail in by hand and the time that would have been involved in the process.
These hand-nailed buildings have stood the test of time but it’s mind-blowing to think about the hours and muscle that would have been involved. Imagine how worn out your arm and shoulder would be after a week, a month, or a lifetime of driving those nails into the hardwood.
Fast Forward 2019
We are spoilt for choice today in the world of nailers with many fantastic options for various tasks. Depending on if you’re knocking up wall frames, pitching a roof or fixing your architrave, there is a specific nailer for the given task.
One of the most trusted and relied upon tools in a carpenter’s toolkit would be the framing gun. This workhorse is designed for high powered, repetitive use. In an experienced set of hands a framing specialist can knock up all the wall’s frame of a job in a day or two.
However, it’s not all about power and speed when it comes to nailers; in fact, that’s only half of the story. The other half is about precision and finesse. Finish nailers are your best all-round nailer when it comes to indoor trim and finishing jobs. Shooting a much smaller and lighter gauge nail or brad, this option is amazing for an almost endless list of tasks when it comes to jobs like: mouldings around windows and doors, baseboards, chair rails, skirting boards and even external cladding.
There are several options available when it comes to running these types of nailers. Typically, your main option in the past was ‘pneumatic’, which entailed hooking the gun up to a hose and compressor, which would drive a piston at a rate of 400m/s to shoot the nail into your material. Many tradies still love this option when it comes to fixing large areas that involve high repetition because the speed and reliability of this method is fantastic. Nail delivery can be in either a strip or coil style.
Gas-powered guns were the other main option up until a year or two ago and have been considered the most powerful and mobile method preferred. The freedom and mobility to hook your nail gun on your belt and climb up framework or scaffolding without having to drag a hose around has truly changed the industry. A small gas cylinder that fits into the gun itself provides all the power required.
The newest addition to the world of nailing equipment is the battery-powered or electric nail gun. These relatively new systems remove the need for gas fuel cylinders, which saves money and removes the potential for running out of gas whilst on-site mid-job. These versions rely on either a motorized mechanism to compress a spring that when released drives the nail, or an electro-magnetic coil that forces a piston out, which in turn drives the nail.
Regardless of the type of nail delivery you prefer, the nail gun will continue to remain one of the favourite tools for most tradies. As technologies continue to advance I imagine power will increase and the weight of the guns will further reduce. But until then I think we should take off our hats to the previous generations of chippies and builders and celebrate the wonder that is the nail gun of today!