Nail Gun: Everything You Need to Know

Whether woodworking is your hobby or profession, you need to drive nails continually at a faster pace into the wood pieces.

A hammer will help you to drive 5-8 nails at once but if more it will be toiling for you. Also, a traditional hammer will not provide you the required pace while a tool namely nail gun will certainly do, leaving you with the best quality finishing.

So, I am here to introduce you to an outstanding tool named nail gun in this article and you will find everything you need to know about this tool.

What is a Nail Gun?

A nail gun is a tool driven by external power sources used for shooting nails into wood or other materials. The nails are arranged in a magazine or coil inside the tool for efficient and safe reloading. The nails will come out sequentially after you trigger the piston.

This tool is flawless in its work and hardly causes any depression to the work material. You will be free from the toil of hammering too if you use a nail gun.

Nail guns are widely used and have a broader range of variations. They are classified depending on various factors. For example,

  • By application – Framing Nailer, Finish Nailer, Brad Nailer, Siding Nailer, Palm nailer, Staple Nailer, etc.
  • By Power or Working Mechanism – Pneumatic or Air Operated, Combustion or Gas-powered Nail, Electric (Corded and cordless) Nailers.
  • By Physical Structure – Coil Nailer, Stick Nail Gun, Angled Nailer, Straight Nail Gun.
how does a pneumatic nail gun work

How does a Nail Gun Work?

A nail gun uses the blast of power produced from an external source onto a piston and drives nails into the material with an extensive force. The force created by a nail gun is far higher than the human-produced one.

While it needs several strokes of a hammer to drive a single nail, you can fire hundreds of nails at a time with just one press at the trigger by using a nail gun.

How is a Nail Gun Powered?

The question “How is a nail gun powered?” may pop up in your mind making you confused in choosing a nailer from various types available in the market. You must know the answer to choose the right nailer and get the required hammering force for your job.

It is wise to buy one after exploring the working mechanism of different types. In this article, I will restrict myself in discussion to the classification based on the working mechanism (i.e., operating power source) to help you in finding the answer to your question.

It will be easier for you to choose a nailer by comparing the pros and cons of each type that are discussed in this article.

Pneumatic or Air Operated Nailers

The pneumatic nail gun is the widely used nailer among the 3 types. It has four major components: air compressor, air hose, trigger, and piston.

The compressor is the driver of hammering force and is attached to the tool through the air hose. The compressor takes in air at the atmospheric pressure and compresses it to the needed limit.

After you pull the trigger, an explosion of compressed air occurs, and the nails are fired into the material at a high velocity. The attached regulator of the tool will enable you to shoot the nails at your convenient pressure by controlling it.


  • Shoots nails at a faster pace. Saves time.
  • Higher durability. Can be used for a longer period and large-scale works.
  • Provides consistent pressure. Enables delivering equal pressure to each nail.
  • Produces a huge amount of hammering pressure. Can be used for driving nails into thicker materials and for heavy-duty works.


  • Resists free moving, less flexible, and not portable.
  • Produces loud noise while operating, cannot be used in a residential area.
  • Oiling is required to prevent the formation of air vapor in the compressor.
  • Bulky in appearance because of the external attachments, air compressor, and air hose.

Combustion or Gas-powered Nail Gun

This is almost the same as the previous one except that it requires internal combustion of fuel to produce hammering pressure. Butane or liquid petroleum are mainly used as fuel.

It has a combustion chamber, a fuel container, a piston, and a battery. When you trigger the gun, fuel is released to the combustion chamber from fuel cartridges. A spark is formed, by a battery or through connecting the gun to an electric outlet, to burn the fuel.

The pressure is created through the combustion of fuel and drive the nails into the material.


  • Is cordless. Easily portable, efficient, and flexible.
  • Saves user from the hassle of air compressor and air hose.
  • Provide a reasonable amount of pressure. Can be used for large-scale works and driving nails to a hard surface.


  • Both battery and fuel required to produce pressure
  • The odor of the residue gas is sometimes irritating.
  • The combustion reaction may not occur properly in cold weather which results in less firing pressure.
  • The fuel and charge of the battery may run out in the middle of work. You need to check both the fuel tank and battery charge before starting the work.

Electric Nailers

This is the simplest model of nailer both in design and functionality. To produce the driving pressure a rechargeable battery or an electrical cord is used in electric nail guns.

The battery used in electric nailers is lithium-ion batteries of 10 to 20 Volt. This type of battery can be charged in a short time and runs for a longer period. The major components of this nailer are an electric motor, a powerful spring, and a trigger.

The electric motor holds the spring in a compressed state. When you pull the trigger, the spring is released, and the kinetic energy stored in it acts as the driving force to fire nails.


  • Easily portable to any place.
  • Do not produce noise or foul residual gas
  • Can work at all temperature and pressure
  • Perfect for the small-scale users, hobbyists, and DIYers
  • Needs neither an air compressor nor a combustion fuel chamber
  • Lightweight and smaller in size. Saves the user from fatigue during long time work.


  • Cannot drive nails into a hard surface.
  • Cannot shoot nails as faster as the other two types.
  • Needs an electric outlet for charging for corded electric nails.
  • Do not produce massive driving pressure like the pneumatic or gas-operated nailer.
  • The duration of the performance is much lower than the other two types since the battery needs to be charged from time to time.
  • You can keep extra batteries to be on the safe side for day-long work, but this will add weight to your carry bag.

Which One You Should Choose?

You need to choose a nailer that will ensure you the best quality work and will improve your productivity. This article has outlined the pros and cons of each type to help you in selecting the right one. You may consider the following factor while making your choice among the 3 types:

  • Your required firing forces
  • Duration of your working period
  • Your required pace for driving nails
  • Location of your work, on-site or off-site
  • The scale of your work, large-scale or small-scale
  • The temperature and pressure of the working site
  • Accessories you own such as air compressor, fuel, easily accessible electric outlet, extra batteries

Choose the nailer that satisfies all your requirements.


It is an intimidating task to select one nailer from the available wide variety. If you can narrow down the classification criteria, the selection task will be easier for you. In this article, the author tried to let you know all about the nail gun and help you in selecting the right nail gun based on the working mechanism. If your focus is on the power source of a nailer, I hope this article has helped you a great deal.

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