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Tools

Best Pneumatic Coil Nailer

Coil nailers are used for two basic purposes; roofing and siding. Both of these applications require round-head nails, meaning that they need to be collated in such a way as to provide enough space between the individual nails for the nail heads. Both applications also use a lot of nails, so a large capacity is needed. For that reason, the coil nailer was developed. The coil allows more nails to be loaded into the nailer than a typical stick configuration, without making the tool too large to handle.

The reason that round headed nails are used in these applications isn't because of the problem of the nails pulling out, but the material pulling out through the nails. Large nail heads help prevent shingles and siding from breaking and coming loose in high wind conditions.

One really great thing about this style of nailer is that the coil magazine makes for a nice stable way of setting the gun down upright; something which can’t be done with other types of nailers. While only a small difference, it makes it easier to pick it back up and have it in the right position to continue nailing. The coil also makes for a compact package, which is easier to hold and work with. It can hold up to 120 siding or roofing nails in a much smaller space than a stick magazine can.

These are used in high volume applications, so anything that the manufacturer can do to make the guns faster and easier to work with is a plus. Details like windows on the magazine, switchable triggers, rubber-coated handles, easy load canisters and tool-free depth adjustment are important, as they keep you working, instead of having to lose time to take care of your gun.

Weight is also an important factor when using these guns, as they spend more time in your hand than other types of nailers do. Often, roofing crews will split the work, with one person stuffing shingles and another nailing them. In those cases, where the gun is in your hand for hours at a time, a few ounces of difference in weight can make a huge difference in the ease of using a coil nailer throughout the day.

As with any nailer, jams are a reality of life. Most nailers today have easy-open nosepieces, to allow quick and easy jam removal. Roofing shingles are abrasive, so most of these guns come with tungsten carbide tip inserts. This prevents them from wearing out prematurely.

There are two firing modes used for these nailers; bump fire and sequential fire. On some units, you have to change the trigger out, in order to change firing mode. On the better units (in my opinion) a simple switch allows you to change between fire modes at any time that you want it to.

Makita AN611, Coil Nailer

While all coil nailers are similar, Makita has put a couple of features on this one that makes it stand out. The first thing that caught my eye was the see-through magazine. That allows you the ability to constantly be aware of the number of nails left before reloading. While others have a window, this is a whole lot better. It also has a stepped depth adjustment knob, featuring nine incremental steps of 1/16-inch each. The gun has a three position trigger control switch, with bump fire, sequential fire and a lock mode to keep it from firing. The unit weighs 5 pounds; not the lightest on our list, but almost. An inline air filter minimizes damage to the tool and extends its service life.

Porter-Cable RN175B Roofing Nailer

The Porter-Cable nailer also has a switchable trigger, although it doesn’t have the lock mode that the Makita does. It is a bit lighter than the Makita, coming in at 4.78 pounds. That makes it the lightest nailer on our list. Designed as a roofing nailer, it has a tool-free shingle guide for accurate shingle placement. It also has skid resistant pads on the side so that it won’t slide off the roof. The depth of drive is designed to be quick set to save time and avoid damage to shingles.

DeWalt D51321 Coil Roofing Nailer

The DeWalt nailer is designed for high volume, being able to keep up with you, no matter how fast you are nailing. The depth adjustment is tool-free for quick and easy setting. The side loading magazine has a window to allow you to see how many nails are still loaded. It has a piston catch, to ensure that each shot has the same amount of force. Depth adjustment is accomplished with an easy to use lever. A trigger lock-off allows the tool to be put into a “safe” mode when not in use.

Hitachi NV45AB2 7/8-Inch to 1 3/4-Inch Coil Roofing Nailer

Hitachi’s coil nailer is a little heavier than the others at 5.5 pounds. It has a pneumatic power feed and return, allowing the nailer to be used in the harshest operating conditions. The depth of drive adjustment is tool-free, like our other contenders. It also has a carbide tipped push lever to reduce wear and help ensure longer tool life. Like the others, there are rubber pads on the side of the tool to help prevent it from sliding off the roof.

Stanley-Bostitch RN46 3/4-Inch to 1 3/4-Inch Coil Roofing Nailer

This is the only nailer on this list with a dry-fire lockout; a feature that I think every nailer should have. With it, you avoid damaging the tool by trying to fire a shot when there are no nails in the magazine. The magazine housing gives it a 4.8 pound weight, just a shade more than the Porter-Cable. But the really great thing about this nailer is that it’s backed by a 7-year limited warranty. Like the others, it has a tool-free depth of drive adjustment, wear guards, and pads on the side to prevent slipping.

Rich the Tool Man

Before embarking on the current stage of my life, I spent 15 years as a Manufacturing Engineer in both the medical equipment field (medical electronics) and automotive engineering (city transit buses). After that, I owned a small construction company, mostly doing residential remodeling and commercial tenant finishes. I am no longer in either of these fields, but still get my hands plenty dirty as a consummate do-it-yourselfer; working on everything from remodeling my own home to rebuilding my car’s engines. My hobby (when I can find the time) is woodworking; making everything from toilet paper holders, to shelves, to music stands for my own home. My wife long ago gave up the idea that a two car garage is for parking two cars; it is my workshop.

While I cannot claim to having worked professionally with all types of tools, I have worked professionally with some. This comes from my previous careers, where I had to specify, buy and at times live with those decisions. Additionally, I would have to say that my engineering background has given me a thorough understanding of the construction of such tools. So, while I may not have used a particular type of tool personally, I have the knowledge to cut through all the advertising hype and statistics; in order to get at the truth of how well a tool will operate and last.

In my current career as a writer, I've written over 90 books. This includes my own titles and those I've written on contract. I've also written a complete website on how to build your own home.

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