If you do a lot of woodworking, a powerful air nailer will not only save you time and energy, it can also improve the quality of your work. Nailers drive fasteners below the surface of wood without denting or bashing to ensure a smooth, high-quality finish. Finished products look better without the obvious trail of hammer tracks that are the result of time-consuming hand work. Just as there are a large number of jobs and fasteners, so too are there a wide range of air nailers available. Answering the following questions will help you hone in on the right one for you:
        • What type of nailer is most appropriate for the job at hand?
        • What kind of fasteners will you be using?
        • What steps should you take to ensure safe operation?
        • Which power source do you prefer?
        • What other features would you like to have available?

Types, Operation and Safety

There's a nailer available for nearly any type of job, ranging from shingling to trim work. Consider the types of jobs you do most often and select the appropriate tool. Once you've chosen the right type, you'll want to consider how easy to use, well-balanced and effective it is. Take safety features into consideration as well, and always take precautions when using a pneumatic nailer to ensure not only your own safety but that of those around you. Most models must be connected to an air compressor via a hose, but some eliminate the need for a hose. Consider how your work area is configured before you decide which one will work best for you.
Types: Choosing the ideal nailer depends almost entirely on what type of job you plan to use it for. Different types of fasteners, including nails, staples and brads, are utilized by different nailers. Consult the chart below to determine which types of nailers are best for which jobs: 


Ideal Usage

Points to Consider

Brad Nailers • Trim work • Function as down-sized finishing nailers
Coil Nailers • All-day jobs
• Shingling
• Framing
• Hold the most fasteners per load
• Ideal for the serious professional
Finishing Nailers • Door casing
• Baseboards
• Trim work
• Crown molding
• Utilize thin strips of finishing nails
• Angled tools are easy to use in corners and tight spaces
Headless Pinners • Crafts
• Delicate trim work
• Use small-gauge fasteners
• Create very small entry holes
Palm Nailers • Between wall studs
• Between ceiling joists
• Fit in the palm of your hand
• Ideal for narrow spaces
Staplers • ¼"or thinner material and
• Use a narrow-crown staple
Stick Nailers • Framing
• Various construction tasks
• Easy to handle
• Weigh less than coil nailers
• Require more frequent reloading

Operation: Nailers should be lightweight and well-balanced for more comfortable operation. There are two types of firing modes, with many models allowing you to switch back and forth between them. Bounce-fire triggers, which may need to be installed separately, allow you to squeeze and hold them so you can fire a nail every time you touch, or bounce, the nose of the nailer to your work surface. Sequential firing requires you to pull the trigger each time you wish to fire a nail, allowing you time to set up the proper angle for the shot. To power your nailer, you'll most likely need a compressor. Look for one with a 2 hp or greater motor and a 4- or 6-gallon tank. You'll also need to remember that you only have as much reach as you have hose, so make sure you position your compressor accordingly. If you want to work without the hindrance of a hose, look for a nailer that's powered by a fuel cell and battery.
        • The more frequently you use a nailer, the more comfortable it should be
        • Look for models with anti-jamming features to ensure smoother operation
        • Nail strips feature a resin coating that doubles as an adhesive when nails are driven in
        • Look for models that direct air blasts away from your face for safe, comfortable use
Safety: As with any tool, it is necessary to take certain precautions to ensure safe operation with a nailer. Always wear safety glasses to protect your eyes in case a nail ricochets off the work surface and bounces back toward you. When you're done working, be sure to disconnect the air hose immediately and turn off the compressor to avoid accidents. Look for a nailer with a lockout lever to prevent children from accidentally discharging the gun when you're not using it.
        • Check the nose guard to ensure it's in place and working properly
        • Place your fingers on the trigger only when preparing to drive in a nail


Adjustable Belt Hook: Keep your nailer handy with an adjustable belt hook, which allows you to clip the nailer to your belt so it's close at hand whenever you need it.
Swivel Hose Attachment: Compressor hoses can get in the way, especially when you're roaming around a room trying to complete several different jobs. Nailers with these attachments allow you to shift the hose to the most convenient position, saving you both time and aggravation.
Onboard Storage Space: Models with this feature let you store extra fasteners in a convenient, easily accessible place, so you have everything you need right with you at all times.
Depth Adjustment: Look for nailers that make it easy to adjust depth. Wheels and slide adjustments are simple to use and give you the ability to set accurate depths. Driving nails into the correct depth not only ensures that you won't have to manually pound in nails that don't go in far enough, but prevents the wood's surface from being marred by the force of the blow from the nailer as well.
Easy Loading: Some nailers feature magnetic strips that hold pins in place when you're reloading a new cartridge, helping to prevent accidental spills and speeding up reloading time.