Nail Gun Safety: Pro Guides and Tips

Nail guns or power nailers are tools that will increase your productivity both in professional work and easy household activities like hanging a picture on the wall.

Though nail guns save your fingers from the risk of getting hammered, it is not free from the risks at all. The nail gun has the potential to cause serious injuries because of its faster pace. The faster the tool the rarer it is safe.

Do not get it wrong and abandon this useful and highly productive tool. If you use this tool following appropriate precautions, you will be safe from all the risks. Remember, F.S. Hughes said, “Safety brings first aid to the uninjured”.

So, this article is focused on explaining the risks of nail guns and the safety issues you should consider.

How Dangerous Nail Guns Are?

The most engaged body part in operating a nail gun is the hand. Therefore, you may get injured in the hands mostly while working with a nail gun. Other body parts are not out of the risk though.

Nail guns can produce high velocity. The highest range of velocity could be 1400 feet per second which is capable of penetrating compacted concrete by 10 cm.

On the other hand, the energy required to cause serious injury is far less than this high velocity. A projectile velocity of 150 feet per second can pierce through skin and for bone fracture, the required amount is 195 feet per second. You can easily understand how dangerous nail guns are from these limits of velocities.

While a nail penetrates human body parts, the kinetic energy is transferred to the surrounding tissues. This results in shock waves which can cause temporary, in worst case permanent, holes within the tissues. In some cases, the shock wave expands, and the temporary holes cause a crush of tissues.

Penetration of nails into body parts during working with nail guns can be this much fetal.

nail gun safety tips

Chances of Getting Injured

Whether you are an experienced worker or novice, an injury may occur at any time while working. There are many circumstances that drive you to the verge of being injured.

I am listing some situations for the ease of evaluating your chances of getting hurt while operating a nail gun.

The Recoil of Nail Gun

A little kickback occurs when you fire a nail gun against the workpiece. New users, though sometimes the experienced ones, often push hard on the gun to counteract the recoil. This hard push causes unintentional nail firing. The resulting nail may pierce through your hand causing serious injury.

The little kickback can also hit your face or head. Sometimes double firing occurs while firing nails into a tighter pace where the gun does not get enough space to compensate for the recoil.

Accidental Squeeze of The Trigger

A single actuation or contact trigger fire nails when you squeeze the trigger. Sometimes accidental squeeze occurs which results in unintentional nail firing. This suddenly fired nail can hurt you badly.

Nail Penetration Through the Material

This occurs when the length of the nail used is more than the depth of material. If you are holding the material by hand this nail can penetrate through your hand too after penetrating the workpiece.

Rebound of Nail

The rebound of a nail can be very dangerous. This occurs when you fire a nail into a surface that is too hard to penetrate for the nail. The nail then rebounds in projectile velocity.

The scariest part is that the nail rebounds in an arbitrary direction that you can not determine. This arbitrarily directed can hit you at any site of your body.

Missed Shots of Nail

This mainly occurs while working at the edge of a wood piece. You may also undergo this situation if you do not adequately contact the gun with the material.

When you miss a shoot, the fired nail becomes airborne and can pierce through your feet or hands.

Improper Positioning of Nail Gun

While nailing in a tight space, positioning the nail gun properly becomes tough for you. If you cannot place the gun with appropriate contact with the workpiece, this may cause unintentional firing. This unplanned shoot can hurt you utterly bad.

Safety Measures

Nail guns are versatile in operations, but they are very susceptible to causing injuries. Safety comes first. You should be very cautious about the safety tips to prevent injury.

Be concerned about the following safety tips during operating the nail gun.

Use Full Sequential Trigger

The full sequential firing mechanism is the safest technique to fire a nail. This mechanism fires the nail when you first push the contact tip to the workpiece and then pull the trigger. You must follow the order and do both tasks to fire a nail each time.

You can prevent the chances of both double firing and unintentional nail discharge if you fire in the full sequential trigger.

Understanding the Firing Mechanism

Different nail guns operate in different triggering mechanisms. You must have a proper understanding of all the firing mechanisms i.e., full sequential trigger, contact trigger, single sequential trigger, and single actuation trigger.

Before using a nail gun, make sure you know the firing procedures for the particular nail gun to avoid any kind of risks.

Get Full Training

You should have a thorough understanding of the below issues for the safe use of nail guns.

  • How nail guns operate
  • Knowledge of first aid
  • How to load a nail gun
  • How to operate an air compressor
  • How to hold the workpiece properly
  • Different types of firing mechanisms
  • Major causes of injuries and accidents
  • Understand the manual provided by the manufacturer

It would be great if you can get in touch with a professional nailer. You can get hands-on training from him for a better understanding of the abovementioned aspects.

Proper training and experience are vital to deal with any malfunction of the nail gun during operation.

Put On Protective Gears

You must ensure the safety of your all body parts before you operate the nail gun. Wear protective gear from top to bottom – from head to knee to avoid injuries. Protective gears include hard helmets, safety glasses or goggles, earplugs, safety shoes, etc.

Loading the Magazine

The nail gun will not fire if there is no nail inside the magazine. Different manufacturers design nail guns with different loading mechanisms. You must follow the manual to properly put nails into the strip.

Make sure to clean the jamming if there is any.

Test Shots

You should fire some nails into a spare piece of material to check if loading and shooting depth is okay. This will also help you to gain momentum when using the gun.

Position the Contact Tip

Put the nail against the surface that is to be fired into. Never put it any other place. Use your dominant hand to handle the gun and access a finger of that hand for triggering. Use the other hand for support to keep the nail in position.

Ensure a clear distance of your body from the tool that provides stability in holding the gun and counteracts the kickback after firing.

Apply Pressure on The Tool

After properly positioning the gun, exert pressure with your hands on the tool. Do not use your chest or stomach. These body parts are very sensitive, and you can get hurt badly because of the recoil of the gun.

Firmly hold the tool and trigger, nails will be driven to the required depth and position.

Turn Off the Nail Gun

After finishing your work, unplug the gun from the power source to ensure no firing which may cause accidents. You should also keep the gun turned off during loading.

Keep First Aid Nearby

Always keep the first aid box in an easily accessible place. The box should be adequately equipped to properly aid any kind of injuries.

nail gun safety checklist

Dos and Don’ts of Using A Nail Gun

Let’s now check the dos and don’ts of using a nail gun. Make sure you keep these facts in your mind while dealing a nail gun.


  • Read the manual thoroughly and make sure you understand all the instructions.
  • Check the power source and ensure the plug is properly connected to the electric outlet.
  • Check the nail gun before use and do the troubleshooting if there are any breaks or damage.
  • Maintain a clear distance of your hand and other body parts from the shooting area. You may use clamps for handling and holding workpieces.
  • Clean the surface of the workpiece to avoid rebounding of the nail gun due to knots, nails, or straps on the surface.
  • Keep children and older people away while operating a nail gun.
  • Keep the flammable gas and liquids away from your workstation and do not operate the tool near these.
  • Always clean the workspace after working, remove the broken and unused nails.


  • Do not use a nail gun on an irregular surface. Instead, use a hammer.
  • Never use a broken and faulty nailer.
  • Do not keep your finger on the trigger while holding or moving the gun from one place to another.
  • Do not abandon any safety measures.
  • Do not meddle with the nail gun. Never remove or replace any parts from other manufacturers in a particular nail gun.


Safety should be your priority when using a fast-paced tool like a nail gun. Nail guns come up with numerous types of injuries with its high pace required for this modern generation. If you follow the basic ground rules described in this article, I hope you will be able to counteract the risks of getting injured by this powerful tool.

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