Was reading this post: Are cheap electric brad nail guns worth it for fixing mouldings?

I'm in the middle of fixing up an older home. I have an air compressor with a couple air powered brad-nailers (Porter Cable) and I've been quite happy with this setup.

As part of the on-going remodel, I've been hanging prehung doors using 6D nails and a hammer. I inevitably have missed and marked up the wood on occassion. Doors are Oak 6-panel doors and I've been staining them so I spend a lot of time counter sinking the nails with a nail punch. I've learned to use shims under the hammer in case I miss but beyond that it's slow work and since I'm a one man show, I sometimes need a 3rd hand to hold stuff in place where as with a framing nailer seems it would alleviate some of the tricky balancing act.

On top of this, I plan to build a shed this summer.

My point is that I think I have enough work to justify a framing nailer. Cost is not too much of a concern.

I would like mobility in the form of a cordless nailer but I wonder if cordless has the same power of compressed air variety? And of the cordless, there seems to be a couple versions: Compressed Air Canister and Battery Powered.

I really am leaning toward a compressed air one because there may be long stretches of no use and batteries, like ones in my cordless drill, tend to need replacing if you don't use them very long. So I don't plan on selling the gun when I'm done and would like to have it for other projects that come and go beyond what I have on my plate now.

What do the experts recommend. Will be using to frame doors (6D nails), framing, and building workbench and various wood structures in the future.

Also, 2nd question, do framing nailers generally allow for different size nails? Can I, for example, shoot 6D and smaller (not as small as a brad) nails with same gun?

Please educate me on this topic.

  • re: cordless, the big benefit is you don't need to haul and charge the compressor. The big drawback is that you can't do continuing nailing (with the battery versions) as you have to let it charge between each firing.
    – DA01
    Commented Apr 23, 2013 at 20:23
  • What size is your air compressor? Commented Apr 23, 2013 at 21:01
  • 1
    This is really an OT shopping question.
    – Michael Karas
    Commented Apr 24, 2013 at 1:06
  • @shirlock: I have a small 135psi air compressor that came with the brad nailers. It's easy to lug around but I hate dealing with the air hose. I also have a 250psi in the garage but it's a bit large.
    – Eric
    Commented Apr 24, 2013 at 2:19
  • @DA01: Do the battery powered ones not have the ability to swap out battery packs like cordless drill? Any opinion on the power to drive nails of battery vs. compressed air?
    – Eric
    Commented Apr 24, 2013 at 2:20

2 Answers 2


I have to say that I am no fan of cordless framer nailers. I have had two different ones, a Porter Cable and a Pasload. Both were gas fired. The PC was a disaster. Had lots of problems with the propane cells seating properly and nails jamming. Got the Pasload, worked OK, but slow and the smell was so bad that I only used it outdoors. The gas cells are expensive also. After two days on a job, I went back to my trusty Bostich 88 and ran the compressor off a gen set. The other thing I hated was that it could not shoot 10d wire collated nails that I use in my other air framers. Those plastic bits flying at your face sting and you have to reload much more often. Absolutely hate plastic collated nails!

To be honest, I have not tried one of the new battery operated models yet. For framing, I like the largest, thickest nail.(3 1/4") and most cordless ones don't shoot the same larger nails I use in my Bostich.

Since your projects are at home and you already have a 135# compressor, I really think you will get a lot more nailer for the $$$ if you stick with a Bostich 88 mag or similar. You will be able to shoot 4d to 10d nails. The unit itself is much lighter, cheaper and very dependable.

For what you pay for a good cordless, you could own a good framer, 16ga finish and 18ga brad gun, thus having the right tool for every nailing job.

I have to say however, a good cordless finish gun is wicked handy and the battery models have plenty of power, but this humble carpenter is not sold on cordless framers.

  • Paslode are the best in my opinion and hardly worth considering the others. cordless are slower, but really good for small/short jobs where not setting up a compressor and hoses saves a lot of time. Commented Apr 24, 2013 at 14:25
  • @Shirlock: Thank you for your insights. What is your opinion on round head nails vs. cliped head? This guy's review makes me wonder about the spring in the head unit: amazon.com/review/R1W934H1MLRZJ9/…
    – Eric
    Commented Apr 24, 2013 at 15:38
  • @Eric. I have two bostitch framers. One is over 10 years old, been re-sealed three times (normal for the amount of use) at no charge by bos at shows when you buy a case of nails. the damn thing is bullet proof. It has taken headers from 30 feet up with no damage. I use only clip head nails. you can load a lot more and no debris flying in your face. For what little use you will give it, it will last a lifetime. There is no real advantage to round head nails, they both work fine. Commented Apr 24, 2013 at 21:31
  • Clip heads have served me well for over a decade and you have so many choices of sizes and styles in stock at box stores, ie: common, galv, threaded, etc. Commented Apr 24, 2013 at 21:32

There are different kinds of nail guns. You basically have your finishing nailers and then there are framing nailers. There are different size guns in each category that accept specific gauges of nails with minimum and maximum length combinations. If you want to hang a door you need a finishing nailer. If you want to build a shed, I cringe to write it, you need a framing nailer.
That said if your building a shed stay away from nail guns. Use exterior grade screws instead. It aggravates me to no end how quick and crappy everything has to be built these days and nothing lasts because most people and companies choose the path of least resistance. Anything you build with screws is going to be significantly stronger, last longer, have less settling, and hold up to hurricane winds as compared to that built with nails.
Can't remember if it was Lowes or Home Depot, but I bought a Porter Cable combo kit that included 3 different size finishing nailers with a descent air compressor many years ago for $199. Looks like the price has gone way up, but I still use those same nailers all the time for finishing work and there isn't a gauge or length of finish nail that I haven't been able to use with those three guns.

  • I think your comment about screws only applies if you are using structural screws - plain old wood screws will not hold up
    – Steven
    Commented Apr 24, 2013 at 11:58

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