How A Framing Nailer Works & How To Use One

a real framing nailer

Framing nailers are available in two types – pneumatic and cordless. The pneumatic nailer must be attached to a compressor which turns a piston to the nail into the wood. The cordless nailer has a disposable compressed air canister which fits inside the gun or a rechargeable battery to power the piston.

The choice of framing nailer to use depends on the job. A large project will require a heavy-duty nailer which, of course, is the logical choice for the professional. For the DIYer or homeowner with a single job on hand, a cordless nailer is probably adequate and less expensive.

The framing nailer will have one of two types of firing mechanism:

  • In dual-contact firing, hold down the trigger and press the nose to the wood and the gun will fire and nails for as long as you hold down the trigger and you slide it along the length of the piece you want nailed. You do not need to release the trigger and re-fire for each nail.
  • In sequential firing, you do release the trigger, then press for each nail fired, again with the nose pressed against the wood. For the newbie, this is probably the safer way.

There are two basic positions needed in nailing. For face nailing, you face the area to be nailed and hold the nailer at a 90 degree angle. For toe nailing – i.e. nailing floor joists, etc., you hold the nailer at a 50 degree angle and fire.

As with all tools, you should follow the manufacturer’s basic instructions on maintenance of your framing nailer and safety recommendations.

  • Always wear safety glasses when using the framing nailer and any other recommended safety equipment.
  • Ensure that any damaged parts are replaced before use.
  • Keep your hands and feet and other body parts of the nailing area.
  • Clamp and wood that may shift when applying the nailer.
  • Disconnect the nailer from the air compressor or power supply clearing a jam or any other maintenance procedure.
  • Ensure people and animals keep their distance when you use the nailer and never point it anyone.
  • Never use the nailer in an area where a spark may ignite a shavings, dust or flammable substance.
  • Only use the fasteners specified by the manufacturer.

Framing nailers are a huge improvement over hammers and nails but care must be taken – injury more disabling than hammering your thumb nail could be sustained if you don’t!