Wise Buys: No-Hose Brad Nailers
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Wood Magazine

Wise Buys: No-Hose Brad Nailers

Why buy? Eighteen-gauge brads can make project assembly a clamp-free task, and they also work great for installing trim and molding in homes. With brads, you get the length -- 2-1/8" is the maximum -- of a 15- or 16-gauge finish nail, but with a smaller hole to fill. Gas- or battery-powered brad nailers handle these jobs just as well as their pneumatic cousins, but without the fuss of dragging around an air compressor and hose. They also make the perfect tool for a trim carpenter returning to a job site for punch-list work.

Paslode IM200F18

Paslode IM200F18

Weight: 4.9 lbs.
Brad capacity: 5/8" to 2"

Editor test-drive:
I never realized how restricted I was until I used Paslode's gas-powered brad nailer. Before, I was tethered to my air compressor and hose, but no longer! The IM200F18 drives brads -- and sinks them -- into any hardwood or sheet goods. Before trusting it to install trim in my house, I drove several sizes of brads into 3/4" hard maple, plywood subflooring, and even 2" red oak. It never failed to sink even one brad. With that confidence, I used it to install fir baseboard, shoe molding, and door and window trim in my home, and it performed flawlessly.

The IM200F18 requires a 6-volt rechargeable battery as well as gas-filled fuel cells (replacement cells cost $5 each). Together they spark a small explosion to drive a piston, like the engine in your car. I drove more than 1,200 nails before exhausting the first cell -- without draining the battery. The nailer has an adjustable depth setting that proved easy to use, and the rubber bumper on the nose prevented dents in the wood.
-- Tested by Kevin Boyle, Senior Design Editor

To learn more:
800-682-3428; paslode.com


 

Senco Finish 25

Senco Finish 25

Weight: 6.3 lbs.
Brad capacity: 5/8" to 2-1/8"

Editor test-drive:
It's heavy and feels awkward at first, but after using the 14.4-volt rechargeable Senco Finish 25 on a few jobs I knew it would become a permanent addition to my shop. As a cabinetmaker who also makes custom molding, I'm working on job sites as much as in my shop, so I appreciate the freedom the Finish 25 affords me. It's a real timesaver to not have to lug around an air compressor and hose -- and I don't have to worry about scratching a client's hardwood floors, cabinets, or countertops.

The Finish 25 has ample power for driving brads in hardwoods as well as pine and plywood. Although it has multiple depth settings, I left it on the deepest setting most of the time and was pleased with the results. It has excellent tip visibility for brad placement, and it never left an indentation on the wood. I also like that it will not fire when the magazine empties, protecting the driver. Still, I wish the nailer was smaller to reach into tight spaces, and that it would stand on its battery. It comes with two batteries and a one-hour charger.
-- Tested by Ben Svec, Contributing Craftsman

To learn more:
800-543-4596; senco.com


 

DeWalt DC608

DeWalt DC608

Weight: 7.4 lbs.
Brad capacity: 5/8" to 2-1/8"

Editor test-drive:
DeWalt's DC608 18-gauge, battery-operated bradder hadn't hit the market when we tested no-hose brad nailers for issue 180 (November 2007). But with those results fresh in my mind, I wholeheartedly recommend this tool. The 18-volt DC608 uses a flywheel drive mechanism to sink brads from 5/8" to 2" long in rapid-fire mode, just like a pneumatic unit, but with no stinky fuel cells.

I gave it a good workout installing red-elm trim with 2" brads. I quickly dialed in the right setting using its 12-position depth adjustment, and found I could return to it later without test firing. Its narrow tip and dual LED lights make pinpoint brad placement easy. After a full day of use (in a measure-cut-fit-and-nail sequence), the battery never ran dead. The DC608 has a low-charge indicator light to let you know when to swap batteries. It also features quick, toolless removal of jammed brads, a low-on-brads indicator magazine window, and a switch lockout for safety without removing the battery.
-- Tested by Jan Svec, Contributing Craftsman

To learn more:
800-433-9258; dewalt.com


 

Kobalt Compressed-air Regulator, J-6901-100

Kobalt Compressed-air Regulator, J-6901-100

Weight: 3.2 lbs. (including 9-oz. tank, excluding nailer)

Editor test-drive:
It's not exactly hoseless, but you don't need a compressor. I have to admit it: I was intrigued by Kobalt?s J-6901-100 compressed-air regulator because it looks cool, but at the same time I was skeptical of its abilities. Here's how it works: A tank filled with compressed carbon dioxide (CO2) provides the power for your pneumatic brad nailer (not included). You control the CO2 pressure with the regulator, which clips onto your belt.

It didn't take long to dial in the regulator, but it worked best at the maximum of 120 psi; lower levels just didn't sink longer nails. Using my own nailers, I drove 2", 18-gauge brads into red oak and hard maple, and it socked them in perfectly. I noticed that some nailers require more air per nail than others (based on watching the draw on the pressure gauge), so you might have to wait a second or two between nails. I also tried the Kobalt with my 15-gauge finish nailer, and it powered that driver with no problem. I drove a combined 268 brads and finish nails of assorted lengths on a 9-oz. tank. When you've expended your tank's supply, return it to Lowe's for an exchange. Replacements cost $16 for the standard 9-oz. tank, and $27 for the optional 20-oz. tank ($36 new).
-- Tested by Bob Hunter, Tools and Techniques Editor

To learn more:
800-445-6937; lowes.com


 

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