What Is a Pneumatic Nail Gun?

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  • Written By: Paul Scott
  • Edited By: R. Halprin
  • Last Modified Date: 14 November 2019
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A pneumatic nail gun is a compressed air powered tool used to shoot nails and staples into timber or masonry. Most of these tools propel nails with a reciprocating striker mechanism driven by compressed air. The nails may be of various designs and are typically presented in glued strips stored in a magazine inside the gun. The pneumatic nail gun allows operators to maintain higher production levels than with hand nailing and with minimal fatigue. Nail guns are, however, dangerous and require adherence to stringent safety measures.

Nail guns are electrically or pneumatically operated power tools used to shoot or drive nails into various materials. Most work on a similar principle and feature reciprocating strikers which push the nails out of the “barrel” of the nail gun with considerable force. The pneumatic nail gun is powered by a remote source of compressed air generally supplied by a portable compressor or a built-in compressed air system. Pneumatic nail guns tend to be far more powerful than electric varieties and are generally used in heavier construction applications with larger nails.


The mechanisms which drive nails in a pneumatic nail gun differ slightly among manufacturers and models but all work on a common principle. A captive striker is attached to a piston that reciprocates, or moves backward and forwards, in a closed cylinder connected via a valve mechanism to the compressed air source. When the nail gun trigger is depressed, compressed air drives the striker forwards, thereby propelling the nail out of the gun. When the trigger is released, the valve mechanism directs air to the opposite side of the piston and cycling it back into battery for the next shot. The nails are stored in a magazine inside the gun in glued strips, thus allowing for a large number of nailing cycles before replenishment is required.

Nail guns allow for far higher cycle rates than are possible with hand nailing and consequently better productivity. The pneumatic nail gun also enables operators to work longer and produce more with far less fatigue. In spite of their many benefits, a nail gun is dangerous; the average pneumatic nail gun propels a nail at about 1,400 feet per second — close to the muzzle velocity of a medium powered, center fire rifle bullet. Many serious injuries and fatalities are caused every year by nail guns so these tools should always be used by experienced operators who apply relevant safety measures at all times.


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Post 3

@rundocuri- Once you learn how to use your pneumatic nail gun, never let your guard down no matter how comfortable you become while using it. Though it is an effective tool, it is always going to be dangerous so you always have to be very careful while using it.

Post 2

@rundocuri- If you want to use a pneumatic nail gun safely and effectively, you should get instruction from someone who has a lot of experience using one. If you don't have a friend who can do this for you, there are classes available that you can take.

Some home improvement stores and community colleges offer instruction on using tools like potentially dangerous nail guns. The information they provide will help you learn the right way to use a pneumatic nail gun and the best ways to stay safe while you are working with it.

Post 1

Aside from being an expert with a lot of experience using a pneumatic nail gun, what can someone do to be safe while learning how to use this powerful tool?

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