Paslode invented the air nailer, or 'power nailer' in 1959, with little fan fare as most in the industry ignored their innovation. It wasn't until the late 1980's that those in the fine finishing and carpentry profession started to recognize the efficiency gains to be made in adopting this technology.
It was another 10 years before the rough construction sector adopted power nailers as an essential tool. Today there are numerous adaptations of this technology and a power nailer for every sector. Specialized air nailers have been designed for framing and roofing as well as floor nailers and power nailers that are light and small for finishing carpentry.
Pneumatic framing nailers designed specifically for driving 2" - 3 1/2" nails into construction material were one of the first power nailers on the market but they were burdened with strong user resistance. They were just too heavy for daily use, especially when you added in the weight of the typical air hose. New technology in the area of material science has allowed for the design of lighter nailer housings and associated hoses. Bostitch & Dewalt power nailers are taking the lead with producing air nailers under 8 lbs.
Paslode has even engineered a gas nailer that now uses an onboard gas cylinder and battery (for ignition) as the fuel for driving the nails. Time will tell if this approach is the long awaited answer to getting rid of the air line, but as other manufacturers like Hitachi follow suit with innovative adaptations and performance enhancements it is sure to drive some acceptance. They need to address the slow cycling speeds and poor low temperature performance if they are to go mainstream.
Designed for roof shingle installation. Light weight and fast recycle times are important, with large nail capacity. Most roofing nailers have resorted to the coil canister as a method to increase the nail holding capacity of the nailers. It is not a bad idea to invest in high tech polyurethane air hose to reduce the overall weight and portability of the tool.
Compact design and light weight are the two most important specs for a finishing nailers. You're wrapping around various structural components on a piece of furniture so its nice if you can do that with a relatively small nailer. This is an ideal environment for the newer battery pack cordless nailers. Keep an extra couple of rechargeable packs around and you'll appreciate the mobility it offers.
Different "power" options:
- air or pneumatic nailers
- electric nailers
- cordless nailers (battery driven)
- combustion driven power gas nailers
Features you may want to consider:
- physical size (do you need to get into small places)
- nail length capacity
- gauge and design of nails that it accepts
- nail capacity (how many can it hold)
- cycling time (especially if a gas nailer)
- air capacity needed
- nail depth adjustment (especially for roof nailers)