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What Is a Framing Nail Gun?

By Lori Kilchermann
Updated May 17, 2024
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A framing nail gun is a device that uses air or a gas ignited by an electrical charge to drive a round head nail into wood. Unlike finishing nail guns or other similar types, the framing nail gun uses round head nails much like a carpenter with a hammer would use. This style of nail is thought to hold more securely than the clipped type head associated with other types of nail guns. Most framing nail gun designs will shoot common round head nails, glue-coated nails and ring shank nails, making the gun very useful in construction tasks from building walls to installing roof joists and rafters. The typical framing nail gun is able to use long strips of nails as well as large round rolls of nails.

For large jobs requiring large nails, a framing nail gun is usually a good investment. The guns come in two basic styles: cord and cordless models. The cord is actually an air hose that runs from an air compressor to the nail gun. One common problem with the air-operated framing nail gun is that the gun loses power if the air hose becomes crimped. The air-powered nail gun also requires the purchase or rental of an air compressor, usually gasoline-powered, gasoline and an air hose or hoses long enough to reach all areas of the job site.

Cordless framing nail gun designs typically use a gas charge to fire the nail into the material needing to be fastened. A small disposable gas canister is loaded into the nail gun and a small amount of gas is injected into a cylinder above the nail. When the trigger is pulled, an electrical charge from a rechargeable battery pack ignites the gas, creating an explosion and effectively driving the nail home. This style of nail gun is able to set approximately 1,200 nails on a single fuel canister. The ignition system is commonly good for up to 4,000 shots before requiring a recharge.

The use of a framing nail gun can commonly cut the time required to build any large project, such as a house, in half as compared to using a hammer to drive the nails. The nail gun is also able to get into tight areas much better than a hammer. Some complaints about the cordless framing nail gun are that in cold or very hot climates as well as very high altitudes, the gun can occasionally misfire and not properly set the nail. A cordless nail gun also requires cleaning more frequently than an air-operated model.

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