How Do Different Nail Guns Work?

How Do Different Nail Guns Work?

Nail guns aren’t the same as staple guns, though the two are sometimes confused. They are both powerful tools and dangerous if improperly operated. Here’s how different nail guns work.

A nail gun has two primary jobs—to drive a nail into wood or other material, and to move the next nail into place within the magazine to be ready for the next time you pull the trigger. The nail gun applies force to the nail using a piston that whacks a blade with great force, driving the nail into the surface the gun is pressing against, or driving the nail with springs that compress and release forcefully enough to eject a nail and drive it into the wood or other materials being fastened together. Nail guns use a series of nails glued together on a strip. Within the magazine, a spring pushes the next nail in line into the barrel. When the hammer whacks the nail, it separates from the strip and dives down into the wood. The action of the nail rubbing against the wood as it enters melts the glue that had held it in the strip. The glue then hardens around the nail, reducing the chance the nail will pop out or loosen.

The main difference between nail guns is how they are powered. Commonly used nail guns use pneumatic power—compressed gas—to create pressure to drive the hammer onto the nail, and the nail into the surface. When the user pulls the trigger, the pressurized gas in the barrel drives the hammer down. The tool connects to an air compressor with a hose. As the pressure drops in the tool from repeated firings, the compressor turns on to bring the air pressure back up to the required PSI for use. Users sometimes feel hindered by being tethered to the hose, but the pneumatic force of the nail gun speeds up construction work considerably.

Combustion nail guns work on the same principle, but they actually use small canisters of flammable gas, ignited by a spark plug or a battery, creating little explosions to drive the hammer down. While the user isn’t tethered to a hose delivering compressed air, the gas canisters must be changed with relative frequency to keep the job moving.

For lighter or smaller jobs, battery-powered nail guns suffice. These use a battery-powered, electric motor to provide the driving force behind the piston that in turn drives the hammer to pound the nail. They aren’t as forceful as pneumatic or combustion versions, and the batteries must be recharged. But the user isn’t tethered to a hose and doesn’t have to change gas canisters. Electric nail guns are cheaper and can get into tighter spaces than other types.

Different nail guns work similarly by applying force to drive nails into surfaces, just like manual hammers—they just do it much faster and more efficiently.

When it comes down to it, construction jobs need hammering tools, from hammer staplers for roofs, flooring, or carpet to powerful nail guns. Staple Headquarters has the tool you need to get the job done.