Palm nailers are a relative newcomer to the nailer marketplace. These compact tools are not designed to use with a specific type of nail, nor do they need collated nails; rather, they are designed to drive any type of loose nail that you could desire. That makes them extremely versatile and useful.
By no means is a palm nailer going to replace a regular framing or finish nailer. These don’t have the high speed capacity that regular strip or coil nailers do. Rather, they are designed to replace a hammer, making it possible to drive standard boxed nails with little effort.
They are excellent for use in tight places and awkward angles, where it might be difficult to swing a hammer or even use a standard nailer. The fact that you place the nail where you want it, rather than placing the nosepiece of the nailer where you want it, makes these tools an excellent choice for use in cases where you have to drive nails through metal plates, such as in the case of hurricane clips and joist hangers. They are excellent for use when building a deck, which invariably involves hammering nails at odd angles.
Palm nailers come in two basic sizes, standard and mini. The mini nailers are intended for use in driving nails up to 16d (penny, 3-1/2 inches), while the standard can drive nails up to 70d (6-1/2 inches). The larger palm nailers usually come with various nosepieces, allowing them to be used with several different sizes of nails. Standard size palm nailers are the only type of power nailer which can be used for driving large nails, such as would be needed for nailing timber beams for a ceiling or in a log cabin.
When using a palm nailer, a magnet in the tip holds the nail, allowing you to place it exactly where you want it. Pushing down on the nail starts the nailer working, driving the nail into the workpiece with about 2,000 beats per minute.When looking at palm nailers, these features are important:
- A depth of drive adjustment to stop the nailer when the desired depth is reached.
- A leather “glove” to go over the tool. This provides some protection for your hand from the vibration of the tool, while also providing a good gripping surface. A strap on the glove makes it easier to hang on to the tool.
- Changeable nose tips. Not all have this, but being able to change out the nose tip makes the tool more versatile.
- Magnetic nose – While most have this, not all do. These tools are difficult to use without a magnetic nose.
This palm nailer comes with four different nose tips for different applications. It has a depth control and will drive nails up to 6-1/2 inches long. Read Full Review
The Porter-Cable palm nailer is well thought out, for use by the professional, like all of Porter-Cable’s tools. This one comes with four different nose tips, including a no mar finish tip for use with finish nails and a standard magnetic tip. It also has a steel hammer kit for use with moldings, dowels, and automotive body work. This nailer will drive nails up to 6-1/2 inches long. It has a depth of drive adjustment, so you can select to drive your nails flush or a little proud. It’s also the lightest around at 2.5 pounds. Comes with a glove with padded Velcro strap.
This kit comes with three nosepieces for different sized nails. They also provided a spare set of O-rings for maintenance, a nice touch. Read Full Review
Bostitch’s kit comes with three nose tips; magnetic, standard and large bore, all packed together in a convenient carry case. All nose pieces are magnetic and hardened steel for extreme durability. They also packed a set of spare O-rings in the kit, along with the lubricant and hex wrench needed to replace the O-rings. The glove for this one isn’t made of leather, but rather something that looks like black nomex. It covers the ergonomic back of the nailer, making it comfortable to hold.
At 2.5 pounds, this one ties wiht the Porter-Cable for being the lightest weight full-sized palm nail on the market. It also has the largest range, handling nails from 5d to 70d. Read Full Review
Senco actually makes a couple of different models of palm nailers, with this being their standard sized one. The back of the nailer is soft rubber to avoid vibration, with the glove covering the sides for secure grip. This one comes in at the same 2.5 pound weight as the Porter-Cable unit. It will drive nails from 5d through 70d, giving it the biggest range of any palm nailer I’ve seen. It seems that it only comes with one nosepiece, but that nosepiece is magnetic for easy nail handling.
Ridgid's palm nailer is better described as a mini palm nailer. It will handle nails up to 3-1/2" long. A self-cleaning air filter protects the tool for longer life. Read Full Review
Ridgid’s palm nailer is more correctly characterized as a mini palm nailer. This one is designed to handle nails a maximum of 3-1/2 inches long. It has no glove, but rather a rubber padded back, with an adjustable hand strap. The single nose is magnetized for ease of nail locating. It also has a self-cleaning air filter in the handle, to keep debris out of the tool and extend tool life.
Freeman's entry in the race is another lightweight, mini palm nailer. This one weighs less than 2 pounds. A thick rubber cap makes it easy to hang onto and comfortable to use. Read Full Review
This is another mini palm nailer, intended for use with nails that are up to 3-1/2 inches long (16d). It is incredibly lightweight at under two pounds. Even so, it has a magnetic nosepiece for holding the nail. No glove or strap is provided, but it does have a thick rubber cap over the back of the tool to absorb vibration and make it comfortable to work with. The small body design is easy to hold on to.