Best Palm Nailers 2020 – Reviews & Buying Guide
If you’re in the market for a palm nailer, you may have noticed that it can be hard to tell what separates the expensive palm nailers from the cheap ones. The manufacturers don’t make this any easier, sneaking in marketing fluff along with good information. How can you tell what’s relevant and what’s not?
Well, the good news is that we’ve done the hard work for you, assembling a list of reviews of the best palm nailers on the market. No more worrying about whether you’re getting a good deal or not—read these reviews and the following buyer’s guide, and you’ll know enough to pick the perfect palm nailer to meet your needs.
A Quick Summary of the 2020 Winners:
|Best Overall||BOSTITCH PN100K||
|Best Value||Freeman PMPN||
The 5 Best Palm Nailers:
1. BOSTITCH PN100K Palm Nailer – Best Overall
The Bostitch PN100K is our top pick. This model comes with three different noses for standard, finish, and large bore nailing, giving you the versatility you need to finish most projects. It also features a magnetic, recessed nail slot to hold nails in place, which is especially useful if you’re using this palm nailer in a space that is hard to get to.
This model is powerful enough to drive nails up to 5 inches into a variety of materials, and weighs 2.9 pounds, making it easy to move around the worksite. It also features an ergonomic design, which is great if you’re planning to use it for extended periods.
The one downside is that the case won’t shut once the air fitting is attached, though you can solve the problem by removing the fitting between uses. The Bostitch PN100K provides the power you need at a price that won’t break the bank.
2. Powernail Palm Nail Gun
What keeps the Powernail Palm001 out of first place is that it’s not a general-purpose tool. However, the one task it does, it does really well. The Palm001 is a floor nailer, and it’s designed to do what hammers can’t: get an entire floor done without having to use any top nails. It features a grooved head that is designed to fit into the nail pocket on flooring, or other tight spaces.
It is capable of driving both L-style and T-style cleats, which can be used to secure starting rows, a difficult task in its own right. This model is also capable of nailing down final rows and other right spaces that make using a hammer impractical.
If your primary need for a palm nailer relates to flooring, then you can’t go wrong with this model. If not, you may want to look elsewhere.
3. PORTER-CABLE PN650 Kit Palm Nailer
The PORTER-CABLE PN650 is designed with both comfort and utility in mind. What sets it apart from other palm nailers is the included glove with strap. It has a faux-leather look to it, which makes it seem nicer than other models, but may not hold up under the work it’s going to have to do. While the glove lasts, though, it should make this palm nailer very comfortable.
This model can deal with a wider range of nails than other units, going from 1 ¼” to 6 ½” nails. It also includes four different tips: standard, steel hammer, magnetic, and wide nail, which means that it is one of the more versatile models on our list. It also features depth-of-drive control, which means that your nails won’t end up sinking too far into the wood.
What keeps it out of the top two is the glove, which doesn’t appear to have the durability that other models bring. When you’re paying as much as you are for the PORTER-CABLE 650, you want to know that you’re getting something that will last.
4. Freeman Mini Palm Nailer – Best Value
The Freeman PMPN Mini-Palm Nailer is our choice for best value. You’d think that you wouldn’t find the quality that you get with this model anywhere near this price range. And yet, Freeman has delivered. The best thing about this model is that it is extremely light, clocking in at 1.38 pounds, or nearly a pound less than any other unit on this list. Such a light weight means you don’t have to move it so much as it just moves with you.
While it only works with nails up to 3 ½” in length, that will be enough for most people’s needs, unless you’re a contractor working on heavy construction. It’s great for home use because it doesn’t require a huge compressor to operate. If you have a compressor, odds are it’s strong enough to work with the Freeman PMPN Mini-Palm Nailer.
If you’re just looking to do a couple of projects at home, it will be hard to find a palm nailer completely up to the task, as this one is, for the same price.
5. PORTER-CABLE PN350 Palm Nail Gun
You’re rolling the dice if you purchase the PORTER-CABLE PN350. This model has serious quality control problems, meaning that you could get a good unit that does what it’s supposed to, or get a model that busted right out of the box. You could always exchange it for a working model, but that’s going to eat up time that might be better spent doing other things.
The best thing this model has going for it is that it’s so cheap. That also means that it doesn’t come with the interchangeable heads that come with other palm nailers, giving you just one option instead of the control you would have otherwise gotten.
If you need something cheap and are willing to risk the quality control issues, then this would work for you. But, it’s probably worth it to buy a model with better value, even if it costs more.
Hopefully our palm nailer reviews have given you some ideas about what features are important. But even if you haven’t figured out which model is just right for you yet, don’t worry. We’ve created this buyer’s guide to give you some general information that can make choosing the right model a lot easier. We want you to feel fully-informed when you’re ready to buy, so that you make a great choice.
If you’re planning on using your palm nailer a lot, you’re probably anticipating doing different kinds of tasks. Different kinds of tasks use different nails, go in at different angles, and require different amounts of power. This might sound like a problem that would require multiple different tools, but some manufacturers have solved this problem by including interchangeable heads. Some of the heads are magnetic, which making driving nails in a difficult-to-reach area or at an awkward angle much easier. Others are oversized, allowing you to work with nails with wider heads, and consequently, longer bodies. Some are made out of different materials, allowing you to change how the nail is driven into the wood.
Simply speaking, getting palm nailers with interchangeable heads will make many kinds of tasks easier, buy matching the driver surface to the nail you’re trying to drive and the specific scenario in which the nail will be driven. You can do many of the same things with a palm nailer that doesn’t have interchangeable heads, but it will take longer and be more awkward. With interchangeable heads, you’re not only gaining the ability to use larger nails, but also saving time and frustration on other tasks.
If you only have basic nail driving in mind, then this isn’t a feature you’d need, and you’d be safe to purchase a cheaper unit that only comes with one head. Otherwise, you’ll want to get one with more versatility.
Depth of Driving
Like with a drill and screws, you run the risk of not sinking your nail far enough into the wood with a palm nailer. Different models solve this problem in different ways. Some included a finishing head that can be used with finish nails that sink into the surface and are designed to be covered up with putty or another finishing material. Others include a harder, steel hammer tip that can finish off recalcitrant nails. Finally, you just need to make sure that you get a palm driver that has the power to get the job done.
Generally speaking, cheaper palm drivers don’t deliver the same performance that more expensive palm nailers provide. This due in large part to the fact that they have a lower maximum air pressure, which means that they pack less punch behind each hit of the nail. This means that they’ll be slower, but it also means that it’s more likely that you’ll have to follow up with a hammer after driving the nail as far as you can with the palm nailer.
You should pay attention to what’s included with the palm nailer that doesn’t necessarily contribute to the direct function of the device, but will make a big difference in your experience in the long run. For instance, some models come with a leather or faux-leather glove, which is a funny name for a cloth pocket that gets slipped over the palm nailer. This cushions your hand from the device while you’re using it. These gloves also frequently come with a strap you can place over the back of your hand while you’re using the palm nailer, which keeps it firmly in your grasp, even if it slips out of your fingers.
If you plan on using your palm nailer on several projects or over an extended period, it’s probably worth it to invest in a model that comes with a glove, as it’s one of those little things that makes a big difference over time.
You should also see if the palm nailer you’re considering comes with lubricant. Not all palm nailers include lubricants, but most benefit from it, and some require it. It is typically applied when you start the device for the first time each day you use it, and it has the potential to greatly expand the lifetime of your palm nailer by keeping all the internal components running smoothly.
You should always make sure that when you’re buying a palm nailer, you are buying one that meets your specific needs. The floor nailer we profiled, for instance, would be better than most palm nailers at getting a floor installed, but would not be as great for other kinds of work. Likewise, more general models are not going to do as well with flooring but will excel in building wooden frames or other tasks.
One of the most important things you can do when buying any power tool is to make sure you understand what your personal needs are. How many projects do you plan on doing with the tool? Are you going to need a model with all the bells and whistles, or would those be overkill?
The best way to get the tool you need is to be honest with yourself about what you’re going to do with it. You don’t want to spend a lot of money on a tool that’s going to sit on the shelf for years, untouched. But it wouldn’t hurt to splurge a bit on a tool that you’ll use every day. Knowing what you’re going to do with the tool is the first step in choosing one that is right for you.
The Bostitch PN100K was our top pick because of its interchangeable noses and lightweight, ergonomic design. Whether you need a powerful tool that can drive nails in tight spaces, or lack the desire to swing a hammer yourself, you can’t go wrong with this unit. The Powernail Palm001 is designed to do a great job with flooring, but it just isn’t designed to do other work, which keeps it out of first. The comfort and utility of the PORTER-CABLE PN650 were enough to boost that model to third. The Freeman PMPN Mini-Palm Nailer had the best value, costing much less than the first three models, but still had the power to get most jobs done. And the PORTER-CABLE PN350 was cheap, but also had quality control problems, sinking it to fifth on our list.
We know it’s not always easy to shop for power tools online, but we hope that our reviews of palm nailers and buyer’s guide have helped you understand better what you’re looking for. With this new knowledge, you should be able to purchase with full confidence that you’ve chosen the right palm nailer for you.
More nailer posts:
- Reviews of finish nailers (showdown)
- Framing nailer reviews
- What are the differences between framing and finish nailers?
- A Quick Summary of the 2020 Winners:
- The 5 Best Palm Nailers:
- Buyer’s Guide