A Buying Guide for Nail Guns

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A Buying Guide for Nail Guns

Nail guns are a modern addition to the carpenter's toolbox that have made roofing, framing, and countless other jobs, easier and faster than they ever were before. Nail guns can shoot hundreds of nails into all kinds of materials from thin wood panels to concrete blocks. While the principle behind all power nailers is the same, there is no one nail gun that works for all situations. Nail guns differ in the sizes of nails they can use, the applications for which they are designed, and the power source on which they operate. Some features are common to all high-quality nail guns, regardless of application, while other features are specially designed for unique activities.

Perhaps the most important rule in nail gun safety is to use the nail gun for only the purpose for which it is designed. Choosing the correct nail gun for the job is essential. In order to choose and buy the right nail gun, a shopper should know about the different types of nail guns, the benefits and disadvantages of various power sources, features found in quality nail guns, specifications that one should check before buying, and how to find a nail gun online at eBay.

Nail Gun Types

Nail guns are generally categorised by the application for which they are designed. There are six basic applications of nail guns. These types of nail guns are: framing, roofing, flooring, concrete, finish nailing, and fine work such as stapling, tacking, or brad nailing. They also roughly correspond to different nail sizes and diameters.

Framing Nailers

Framing nailers are heavy-duty nail guns capable of shooting nails with a 2.8 mm diameter into practically any kind of wood. These low-gauge nails are used in construction when they have to bear a load, such as when framing a house or building.

Roofing Nailers

Roofing nailers are meant to nail special roofing nails. They often have coil magazines instead of straight magazines, because the coil magazine can hold more nails. Roofing nailers are often made to be lightweight and easy to handle on a roof.

Finish Nailers

Finish nailers use higher gauge nails that are used in woodworking and furniture making. These may or may not countersink the nails, and different models accept different nail head shapes. As with other tools, there is some overlap among brands regarding the type and size of nails that can be used with a certain finish nailer. A common finish nailer size is the 16-gauge nail gun.

Flooring Nailers

Flooring nail guns are shaped so that they stand on the floor and shoot nails at exactly the correct angle for installing hardwood floors. There are flooring cleat nailers as well as flooring staple guns. Cleat nailers work better for denser woods like bamboo.

Staple Guns and Brad Nailers

The finest kind of woodworking requires small brads that disappear into the wood while holding it in place. Brad nailers are used for mouldings and trim, and often use 18-gauge nails. Another fine woodworking nail gun is the 23-gauge nail gun. This type of nailer is used for miniature doll houses, beadings, and mouldings on furniture. Staple guns are useful when a nail alone cannot do the job, for example, with upholstery and light fencing.

Concrete Nail Guns

The most powerful nail guns are those that can shoot nails into concrete. These are generally only used for industrial purposes, and are less common and less useful than framing nail guns. Keep in mind that a more powerful nailer is not necessarily the more useful one. A nail gun that is too powerful for a given application can shoot nails completely through a softer material, and is a serious safety hazard.

Nail Gun Power Sources

There are three basic power sources for nail guns. The pneumatic gun gets power from air pressure. The cordless electric gun uses a battery and gas, and the electric nail gun uses just mains power. Each has benefits and disadvantages that a shopper should know about prior to purchase.

Pneumatic Nailers

Pneumatic guns require an air compressor which has to be bought separately. The air hose is somewhat of an inconvenience, and one has to make sure the correct connectors are used to give the nailer greater freedom of movement. Pneumatic nailers also take a little while to get started (because of the air compressor), but apart from these drawbacks, they are generally reliable and powerful.

Cordless Electric Nail Guns

The cordless nail gun is the answer for anyone who finds the cord to be a liability when working. This kind of nail gun uses the explosive power of gas to shoot the nail out of the gun. The gas is ignited by a spark from the battery. One drawback of the cordless gun is the need to recharge the battery, but with a back-up battery, and a 60-minute charger, one can easily get around without a problem. The other drawback is that they are more expensive to operate since the fuel canisters have to be replaced.

Electric Nail Guns

Purely electric nail guns are only made for very small nails like brads, or staples. They are not powerful enough for bigger nails, and are mostly used by hobbyists in building scale models. These guns are corded and run off main power. The table below summarises the benefits and drawbacks of each nail gun type.

Nail Gun Type




Reliable, powerful

Air hose tangling, slow start-up, requires air compressor

Cordless Electric

Cordless, convenient

Expensive, requires recharging


Inexpensive, not bulky

Only useful for brads and staples

As the table shows, pneumatic nailers are the most useful for large-scale construction projects like roofing and framing. Cordless nail guns can be useful for finishing and smaller scale projects, while electric nail guns are most useful for small indoor projects like scale models and furniture.

Nail Gun Features

Although nail guns vary widely in terms of their applications, there are some features common to almost all nailers. One should know the options regarding each of these features before buying a nail gun. For example, a shopper has to choose between two magazine styles and three trigger types. There are also some other features that make nail gun maintenance and use much easier.

Magazine Styles

The magazine of a nail gun holds the nails that are fed into the gun. There are straight magazines and coil magazines. Coil magazines hold a much greater capacity of nails, making them great for big projects. On the downside, they weigh more than straight nailers. Both coils and straight nail 'sticks' can be angled at various angles. Make sure the refill nail cartridges match the angle of the nailer, and check that finding the appropriate refill is not a problem before buying any nail gun.

Trigger Types

The vast majority of nailers have two trigger areas. One is the tip of the gun which has to be depressed against the material that needs to be nailed. The other is the trigger which is depressed by the index finger. The issue is whether the triggers have to be depressed in a certain order or not. Contact triggers allow the user to hold down the trigger and tap the wood in order to release a nail. These are very dangerous since accidentally tapping the gun anywhere with the trigger depressed results in a nail being shot.

The safest trigger type is the sequential trigger. This type requires the tip to be depressed first, and then the trigger pulled. Pulling the trigger can result in nails being shot as long as the trigger is held (which can be difficult to learn to use, as the nails come out very fast) or a single nail being shot with each trigger pull. The latter is safer but more tiring for the user.

Adjustable Depth

Some nail guns can adjust the force at which the nail is shot. Some guns require a tool to change the nail depth, while others can simply be adjusted by hand. Hand adjustment is useful when one frequently changes between countersunk nails and nails left flush.

Jam Clearing

All nail guns eventually jam. Look for a jam clearing mechanism which is easy to use. The nail gun feeding mechanism should be easy to disassemble in order to clear jams.

Dry Firing Lockout

Dry firing lockout stops the gun from firing when the gun is out of nails. This feature is most useful for inexperienced nailers who might not notice when the gun runs out of nails.

Specifications to Check When Buying a Nail Gun

Nail guns have specifications that must be matched exactly to the job they are used for. The following specifications should always be checked when buying a nail gun: compatible nail head types, driving power, nail angle, nail length and diameter ranges, magazine capacity, battery capacity if applicable, weight, and included accessories.

It is worth getting a good case at the same time as the nail gun in order to protect the gun from dirt and debris that can jam it. Some guns come with changeable triggers or other accessories.

How to Buy a Nail Gun on eBay

Nail guns are easily available online at eBay where a wide selection and low prices can be found 24 hours a day. By using eBay, you can easily find a reputable seller. Every seller's transaction and feedback history is public information on eBay, making it simple to find and choose a seller with a long history of excellent customer service.

To find nail guns on eBay, enter the keywords 'nail guns' in the search box on any eBay page. Then choose between the various categories and search criteria provided in order to refine the search even further. More search criteria, like type and brand, are provided within the appropriate subcategory. Listings by eBay's Top-rated sellers are marked with an award icon. Top-rated sellers are those with a long history of excellent feedback and fast shipping times.

As with any transaction, read the listing carefully and ask the seller any questions you might have before making a purchase. Also check the return policy and shipping rates.


Nail guns have all but replaced hammers as the carpenter's tool of choice for attaching nails. They are powerful, easy to use, and fast. While a nail gun can nail hundreds of nails in a matter of an hour or two, every nail gun can only be used for certain applications. The size and type of nails is the determining factor in the kind of nail gun required for a certain job, while other factors like space restrictions and the scale of the project also play a part in the process. Shoppers need to know the options before shopping for a nail gun.

Framers roofers, and those who install hardwood floors all need different kinds of nail guns. Pneumatic guns are ideal for big projects, while cordless guns are far more convenient in other situations. One should also know about the features and specifications of nail guns, to maximise safety and convenience when working with nails. By learning to shop for nail guns on eBay, anyone can find a quality nail gun at a great price, all from the comfort of one's home.

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