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How to Use a Nail Gun

Learning how to properly use a nail gun can help you cut down on the time it takes to complete your building projects. A nail gun is a great addition to any home handyman’s collection, and if you aren’t ready to purchase your own, nail guns are even available for rent

Skill Level: Beginner
  1. Step 1 Choosing the Right Nail Gun

    Choosing the Right Nail Gun

    Although all nail guns work in roughly the same way, there are a few different types of nail guns available on the market, including battery powered options.

    Crown Stapler:
    When you’re building custom cabinetry, putting up metal siding, making custom furniture, or installing trim, a crown stapler is the best nail gun for the job.

    Brad Nailer:
    When you want to put up crown moulding and small trim with minimal wood splintering and disruption to the wood, a brad nailer makes an ideal choice. The fine finish of this nail gun helps to minimize how much wood putty you need to use afterwards.

    Finish Nailer:
    When you’re adding decorative trim or outdoor fascia, a finish nailer is the ideal tool for the job. This nail gun works with extreme precision and produces a barely noticeable result. It will be quick and easy work to go back when you are done and fill in any nail holes with wood putty.

  2. Step 2 Anatomy of a Nail Gun

    Anatomy of a Nail Gun

    Before you can understand how to use a nail gun, you must first understand the anatomy of the tool and how each component is used.

    • Safety Tip: The safety tip is typically a different colour than the body of the nail gun, making it easy to identify. This safety tip prevents the nail gun from firing unless it is depressed.
    • Magazine Release: The magazine release is a button located on the bottom of the nail gun that allows you to load a new set of nails into the gun in a matter of seconds.
    • Jam Release Latch: If a nail gets jammed during use, the jam release switch on the top of the nail gun will help to clear the problem.
    • Pressure Dial: The pressure dial helps to adjust how much power is needed to drive the nail into the material. This dial makes it easy to alter the pressure to suit the material you’re nailing. It may take a couple test nails in a scrap of wood to get the pressure just right.
    • Depth of Drive Knob: Like the pressure dial, this knob helps to adjust how far into the wood you drive the nail. Keep in mind that if a nail goes in deeper, it will require a little more wood putty to fill the hole. If it doesn’t go in far enough it will stick out.
    • Trigger Switch: the trigger switch is located on the nail gun handle and acts to fire the nail gun once the safety tip is depressed.
  3. Step 3 Remove the Battery

    Remove the Battery

    Before you load any nail gun, make sure to take out the battery (if applicable) so there’s no chance of it firing while you are setting up.

  4. Step 4 Load the Nails

    Load the Nails

    Press the magazine release and load a row of nails in the nail gun.

  5. Step 5 Adjust the Pressure Dial

    Adjust the Pressure Dial

    Adjust the pressure dial to customize how much pressure you drive the nail with.

  6. Step 6 Adjust the Depth of Drive Knob

    Adjust the Depth of Drive Knob

    Adjust the depth of drive knob to customize how far the nail will drive into the material.

  7. Step 7 Replace the Battery

    Replace the Battery

    If using a battery powered nail gun, put the battery you removed earlier back into the nail gun.

  8. Step 8 Test the Nail Depth & Pressure

    Test the Nail Depth & Pressure

    Using a scrap piece of wood, test that your pressure and depth settings are appropriate for the job you’re doing.

  9. Step 9 Align the Gun

    Align the Gun

    Place the safety tip on the area you want to nail.

  10. Step 10 Press the Trigger

    Press the Trigger

    Press the trigger to add a nail to your project. Move to the next area and repeat.

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