The field of construction has undergone a great deal of change over the years, and while the processes and technology may have changed the spirit of the builder remain the same. Builders love to build, whether it’s for work or for fun there is a certain joy to seeing a structure come together and knowing that it will stand the test of time. Yet there’s one thing that every builder knows: if the frame isn’t built right it all falls apart… literally. Getting the best framing nailer you can make the job go faster and come together right.
When Do You Need A Framing Nailer
If you’re looking for a potential job and wonder if you need the best framing nailer, there are some key questions you should ask. Firstly, what is the size of the job? You don’t need a cannon to kill a mosquito, and you don’t need an industrial pneumatic framing gun to throw together a small dog house. However, if you’re looking to build a deck attachment to your home, any job that will have you working with large wooden beams that need to be solidly connected to each other is a good candidate for a tool like this.
Why Go With This Tool
There are many advantages to using a product like this, especially if you are working as a professional. The time difference between using a framing nailer and a hand-held hammer is obviously massive, and the level of physical wear on the builder is significantly less. While it will always be a part of the standard tool kit, a simple hammer just can’t compare to being able to slam dozens of nails through a solid wooden frame in a matter of seconds.
What To Look For
There are a lot of different framing nailers out on the market right now and it can be tough to choose between them. The first choice you’ll have to make is whether to go with a pneumatic, or cordless setup. Most industrial strength nailers are pneumatic and require a corded air compressor to operate.
If you’re going to be working on a project that is out in the open, such as a deck or a shed, then this is fine. However many home projects may require you to get into tight spaces. For this, you may want to consider a battery powered of fuel powered cordless framing nailer. This frees you up to move, does not require any extra equipment beside nails, and cost a bit less over time. Also, when choosing the best framing nailer, you need to know that there are two main styles of delivery systems for the large nails that you’ll be using.
Like with a real gun you have a choice between a stick of drum magazine. You should consider the job you’re going to be doing, how often you’ll be using the tool, and how many nails you’ll want to be able to use before having to stop to reload the magazine.
There are some potential issues that should be taken into account when considering a product like this. Pneumatic framing nailers, in particular, can be dangerous, especially to the untrained hand. Any time you’re working with compressed air there is an explosive potential, but even with the battery or fuel-power versions, it has to be understood that a tool of this nature is extremely powerful.
Nails are fired at extreme velocities and may as well be considered a firearm. Like with real guns though, proper training and following safety procedures to the letter will negate most of the dangerous potential.
Before You Make The Purchase
One of prerequisites to owning something like this is having the desire and the dedication to learn how to properly use it. If you are already a skilled professional builder that has used tools like this for years then so be it. However, if you are assuming that you will simply pick one up, read a manual, and then be good to go then you should perhaps think again. Online videos, manuals, instruction from trained professionals and a few beams of wood to practice on will be a good start. Beyond that, you’ll want to make sure you have the proper safety equipment as well. When it comes to safety it’s better to go overboard then find out you don’t have something you need after you get hurt.
5 Top Picks
Let’s take a look at five products that have earned the seal of approval from the professionals that use them every day. Keep in mind that the order these are listed in does not denote a rank.
The Paslode brand is well known in construction circles and is one of the best framing nailers out there. The newly designed CF325 brings boasts a 5 star rating on Amazon. Price between $450 and $500, this is a great choice for new users and seasoned vets alike.
- New battery and overall frame is lighter, putting less wear on the user over time
- New lithium-ion battery last longer 50% longer, allowing more work per charge
- Quick-charge feature gets you back to work in two minute, allowing 200 nails to be fired
- Frequent use of quick-charge feature can decrease battery life over time
- Reports of misfires and intermittent firing with extended use
- May need to carry two batteries to keep working for extended time
The Bostitch has earned a reputation for being a consistent performer capable of tackling some serious jobs. With a 4.5 star review and an average price around $250, this is a great deal.
- Reputation for consistent performance and a low incidence or jamming
- Solid power-to-weight ratio of 1,050 in-lbs
- Preferred tool for disaster resistant nails.
- No dry-fire lockout
Freeman’s addition to the 4.5 star framing nailer family is a sturdy and reliable worker. Solid and moderately priced at just over $100, this is a great tool for even the heavier jobs
- Adjustable depth gauge lets you choose to control the power of the nail
- Pneumatic nailer built to handle heavy projects
- Single fire or contact fire options
- Nail clip sometimes reads as empty when there are still a few left
- Must remove the rubber bumper and replace with spiked tip to perform “toenail” technique
Hitachi is well known for making a wide array of quality construction tools from simple hammers to construction vehicles. With 4.5 stars and a priced around $250, this is a great addition to any tool shed.
- Very lightweight at only 7.9 pounds makes handling easy
- Built-in toenail push level device
- Good nail capacity at 74 nails
- Designed for continuous operation
- Open nose design for easy extraction of jammed nails
- Pneumatic operation requires attachment to air supply
- Does not load nails outside the specified size
Both Dewalt and Black & Decker are name known by all. Regardless of profession or experience level you have no doubt heard of these two long standing tool makers. Their superbly built framing nailer is no exception and delivers with a 4.7 Amazon rating.
- Tool-free adjustable exhaust
- Nail lockout mechanism
- Easy depth adjustment
- Higher weight wears on user over time
- The Verdict
After careful examination of these outstanding products the verdict is clear. The Hitachi NR83A3S Round Head Plastic Collated Framing Nailer stands alone with a mixture of reliability, durability and value. Normally the old adage of getting what you pay for is right, but when you’ve got a product that offer a host of well thought out features, renowned reliability and it all comes at the lowest price tag, you have to give it the best framing nailer on the market today.