We’ve been doing home-based “building” projects and woodworking for quite a while now, but it was only recently that we started doing so in a larger, more skilled capacity. It was one of our New Year’s resolutions to take our handy abilities a little more seriously, learn more, and advance what we’re capable of and, if we’re being honest, we’d have to say that we’re nailing it (pun intended)!
Now that we’re feeling ready to take on larger, more advanced projects, however, the time has come for us to start levelling up our equipment as well. For example, there’s only so much manual nailing you can do with a handheld hammer if you’re building a very large structure like a playground jungle gym, an expansive treehouse, or an addition for the back of your house.
That’s why we’ve decided to finally invest in an electric nail gun. Not only will it make all of our heavier nailing requirements a little bit faster, but it’ll also drive each nail in with more power than we can do manually with a regular hammer, arguably making the structures we’re building even safer. Even so, we’re also conscious of the price point (we’re working on a little bit of a budget, but still a decent one) and the necessary features.
While electric nail guns are usually pretty straightforward in their function, there are definitely variances that are beyond what we’ll really need for hobby building at home, even though we still require high quality. This is why it’s important to research products well before you purchase them; you want to make sure you actually purchase the equipment that meets your needs properly without unnecessarily breaking the bank.
What is an electric nail gun?
A nail gun is an automatic device that uses some type of pressure or generated power in order to quickly drive a nail into a surface with greater force than human beings are capable of doing manually with their arm and a regular hammer. Some nail guns use air compression as the driving force behind the nail, but many people prefer to use electric nail guns because they find that the power of electricity is more reliable and consistent.
How do electric nail guns work?
Electric nail guns use an electric current provided by batteries or a wall cord and socket to run a rotating electric motor. This motor compresses a powerful spring inside the gun, positioned right behind the flat head of the loaded nail that’s next in line. When you pull the trigger with your fingers, the spring releases very quickly and with lots of force, hitting the flat top of the nail and driving its pointed end into your surface hard and fast. Electric nail guns are capable of driving a nail all the way into even tough surfaces in one swift movement until the edges of the nail’s flat top stops the motion.
What are electric gun nailers best used for?
Electric gun nailers are usually used for larger, more hands-on projects. Many people use them professionally in construction work, but some people purchase reliable but less industrially designed nail funs for home projects as well. They are regarded as being safe for weight-bearing structures because they are capable of driving nails in with so much more force than you can apply with a regular hammer, ensuring that the nail is embedded will into the pieces you’re trying to affix.
They are also much faster to use since each nail is driven into the wood in a singular swift motion rather than requiring you to hit it several times. People use them to build any large project that they want to complete in a reasonable time and with a safe steadiness. Nail guns (especially electric ones) are a fantastic compromise between saving time and not sacrificing quality.
Who should purchase an electric nail gun?
As we mentioned, electric nail gun are most often purchased by people who work in construction and stock their own arsenal of professional high-powered tools. There are, however, those who do projects at home that are larger scale and that can benefit from the added speed and safety provided by an electric nail gun rather than a regular hammer. The key is to evaluate the price versus the features a particular model has to offer and weigh the worth of those with your actual needs and the projects you’d like to tackle.
Best Nail Guns
We were rather pleased indeed with the number of quality electric nail gun options we came across for reasonable prices in our search. If you could use a breakdown of the features you can find in electric gun nailers too, check out this pros and cons style outline that we put together for other DIY enthusiasts.
This first nail gun design from Metabo HPT is the complete kit! So long as you have a decent budget to work with, it’s actually quite an accessible option for beginners. Besides the gun itself, you’ll also receive a durable zipping carrying case, a battery and charging dock, and even a set of safety goggles to be worn while you use it. The gun is an 18 gauge cordless design, meaning it will work with the standard nails you probably already own and also that it has free range of motion. The magazine where the nails are loaded holds 100 nails are a time, and the 3.0 Ah lithium-ion battery is long-lasting and quick charging. The gun also has adjustable modes for different speeds and effects, depending on the job you’re doing.
It’s worth noting that, although the power and running time in this gun is admirable, some people found its actual use a little bit cumbersome. It’s reviewed as being a great piece for most jobs, but its heavy nature makes it a little less than ideal for very precise or detailed work, even by those with lots of experience using nail guns.View price on Amazon
- Long-lasting, fast-charging battery and charging station
- Full supply kit including durable travel/storage case and useful safety glasses
- Holds up to 100 18-gauge nails at once
- Adjustable settings to control speed and drive frequency
- Very heavy
- Slightly clunky design
- Not the most effective for small, detail, or precision work as a result
If you want a quality design that shares many of the above features but your budget isn’t quite so large, you might get this cordless nailer from Porter-Cable. Unlike the previous gun, which used a combination electric air compressor and spring, this gun eliminates the air element altogether. It is specifically designed to have very consistent driving depth, but it also features a wheel that lets you adjust what that depth is for the materials and circumstances you’re working with. This gun has a 20-volt MAX lithium-ion battery that gives it a long-running time with good power, as well as a quick charging base. The tool even comes with a convenient belt clip and a 3-year limited warranty.
Although this gun is largely praised for great power and a long-lasting battery, previous buyers report two notable drawbacks to be aware of. The first is that all that valuable power we just mentioned gives this nail gun a bit of a kick-back. This can cause inaccuracy or even risk dropping for those who weren’t prepared for it. Finally, it has also been noted that the location of the flashlight- a theoretically useful bonus feature for working in poorly lit space- is located behind the nozzle, reducing the effectiveness of the light and causing a shadow from the tool itself.View price on Amazon
- Great battery life and quick charging time
- Strong electric spring mechanism that provides great power
- 3-year warranty
- Heavy kickback
- Ineffectual flashlight placement
This lightweight nail gun from DeWalt was specifically designed to be compact and a little easier to maneuver than some of what you’ve seen so far. It features a 20-volt battery with its own fast-charging port, a belt clip, and a clipping magazine that holds up to 100 nails at an 18-gauge size. This magazine is solid during use but quick and easy to remove, refill, and replace. The tool also comes with a bright white LED light built in to allow you better visibility while working in poorly lit spaces. Additionally, it features a bump mode that lets you kick things into high speed for straight shot strips of nailing.
Despite the useful nature of the previously mentioned bump mode, there can be a drawback inherent in this very feature as well. If it’s used with too much speed and not enough precision or placed upon the surface at an awkward angle, a possibility arises that it will drive the nails into the wood in an awkward manner that bends them into a C-shape, rather than straight through for the neatest, most solid hold. This can be avoided by practicing extra care and attention when using the featureView price on Amazon
- LED light for better visibility
- 100 nail capacity magazine that’s easy to change
- Bump mode for faster nailing in straight forward spurts
- Angle on bump mode must be precise, or curving of nails might result
This particular nail gun design, created and sold by Ryobi, is marketed primarily for speed. It’s capable of driving up to 60 nails per minute on a straight stretch. It works on an electric spring system, meaning there are no complicated hose parts, air compressor elements, or other moving pieces that often need replacing. The tool is built from extra hardy materials for durability but still manages to be lightweight and therefore easy to wield and maneuver.
Although the actual materiality of what this nail gun is constructed from is strong and high quality, certain units have been reported as having a rare design flaw. A small number of the guns have been known to overheat slightly when used on high for prolonged periods, making them hotter than normal to the touch.View price on Amazon
- 60 nails per minute capabilities
- Smooth electric spring system that provides high power
- Lightweight and easy to maneuver
- Small number of units reported as being prone to overheat when used for prolonged times on the highest setting
If you’ve heard of electric nail guns but also heard of electric staple guns and thought that might be useful around your home as well, then you’re going to adore this combination nail and staple gun from BHTOP. This tool is made for ease, designed to be very easy to work and control, and essentially maintenance-free. It features a trip-lock safety mechanism, a built-in LED leveller tool, and a fast-charging battery that can drive 1000 shots in a single charge. The tool also comes already packaged with 500 nails and 500 staples, and it’s also the most affordable option on our list.
Be aware that the staples featured in the photo itself are not actually the staples that the gun fits, uses, or comes with. It does work with the staples that are included, but if you already recognize the staples in the photos provided because you have some at home, it’s worth noting that the ones you have likely will not fit in this tool specifically.View price on Amazon
- Dual nail gun and power stapler
- Comes with 500 nails and 500 staples included
- Most affordable option on the list
- Safety lock and LED light built-in
- Actually requires a kind of staple that is not the same as the ones shown in the photos (but is provided with the tool)
The next tool, designed and sold by Orion Motor Tech, is a combination electric and air impact nailer with a battery that can provide 400 consecutive impacts in each individual charge. On its highest setting, the gun is also capable of firing 100 nails per minute. It is lightweight but durable, features a non-slip handle and an LED light for better visibility, and the magazine is easily removable and refillable despite clicking into place solidly and safely. The tool is cordless and comes with a one-year warranty.
Although it’s not a common problem, some faulty units have been delivered with a design flaw that causes jamming, preventing smooth nailing and requiring magazine adjustment and reloading with each jam. You should also be aware that, although the battery has great longevity, spare batteries that are sold separately are not offered by very many mainstream retailers, so getting your hands on a backup or replacement can be a challenge.View price on Amazon
- High capacity for continuous impact rounds on fastest setting
- Non-slip handle and LED light for safety and visibility
- Easily removable and refillable magazine that’s durable and steady
- Some faulty units experience jamming
- Spare or replacement batteries are hard to come by sold separately
Just in case you’re still feeling enamoured by the idea of a combination staple and nail gun, but you’d like to see at least one more design before committing, here’s another design for your consideration! This tool from Stanley was built with high and low settings that let you customize pressure and impact depending on the material you’re nailing or stapling. This lets you avoid cracking or partial embedding. The piece is corded, but the cord gives you eight whole feet or length to work with. Its construction is durable but ergonomic and also lightweight.
Although this tool is well-reviewed overall, a few previous buyers have noted that they have more success using the tool in one direction than the other. By that, we mean that the gun was built primarily to be held upright, as though you’re nailing or stapling vertically. It will work horizontally or aiming downwards as well, but some people found that the power of its impact was slightly mitigated by that action.View price on Amazon
- High and low settings to accommodate and adjust differing materials
- Combination nail and staple gun
- Lightweight and ergonomic design
- Eight feet of cord for maneuvering
- Works better upright than horizontally; change in position slightly lessens the power of impact
Different kinds of electric nail guns
There are two primary types of electric gun nailers, and they are very simple to distinguish from one another. Each has its perks and drawbacks, so you’ll have to evaluate your personal needs and determine which is best for you. These two types are:
- Corded nail guns: These are nail guns that feature a cord anchored in their back end, with a plug that connects them to an outlet as their power source. These guns are very reliable because the power source is constant and highly unlikely to stop unexpectedly like a battery might when its charge runs out. Power cords are also, however, slightly limiting in terms of their range of motion. When uses a corded tool; you can only walk so far from the outlet. You’ll also have to watch for the cord as you maneuver the tool, so it doesn’t get in your way, become tangled, or trip you.
- Cordless nail guns: As far as we can tell (from both online research and asking the handy people we know), cordless nail guns are most people’s preference. They’re often made with durable, long-lasting, and quick-charging batteries that let them run for generous lengths of time. At the same time, their cordless nature eliminates the complications that were presented by the cord specifically, like a limited range of movement. Cordless nail guns are not, however, free of their own drawbacks or considerations. Pay attention to the quality of the battery, specifically when you’re purchasing; they don’t last forever, and you want one with equal power to a corded gun, and that will give you a nice, long working time before it requires recharging.
The benefits of using an electric nail gun
Whether you decide to purchases a nail gun that’s corded or cordless, there are all kinds of benefits to using some kind of electric gun nailer in place of a classic hammer and nail. The largest perk is speed. The guns are pre-loaded with nails, saving you time in positioning the nail. Rather than getting the point where you want it and holding it steady, all you have to do is place the nozzle of the nail gun down where you want the nail to go.
The impact with which the nails drive into the surface also saves speed. Rather than having to hit the nail multiple times, you’ll see that it embeds quickly and in one fast motion. Finally, safety is improved with a nail gun thanks to the increased solidity afforded to what you’re making. The power in the gun drives the nails in deeper and more solidly, reducing the risk that they’ll lose hold.
Of course, nail guns have safety risks of their own, too. They require a great level of care in aim, and they should absolutely be kept out of reach of children at all times. You certainly will, however, find that your thumbs fare better since you’ll no longer be at risk of missing the nail and bringing a hammer crashing down on them!
Once you’ve got the proper electric gun nailer in your hand and have learned how to use it, you’re practically unstoppable! Make sure, however, that you carefully read the instructions and safety manual before you start. It’s important to know your way around the features of your precise model so that you can really make the most of it and do so without anyone getting hurt.
Do you know another fellow DIY enthusiast who has been thinking about investing in their own electric nail gun lately, but you also know could use a little more guidance? Share this post with them, so they have all kinds of information and options to work with too!