Wise Buys: Nailer/Compressor Combination Kits
Why buy? Unless you're using a spray gun, pneumatic sander, or framing nailer, a small, portable air compressor handles your nailer needs just fine. And because you might need more than one type of nailer, these combo kits offer real value. Each tested kit comes with a 2- to 6-gallon compressor, hose, an 18-gauge brad nailer, and another nailer or stapler for much less than you'd pay if buying each item piecemeal. Because most kits come with a stiff PVC hose that is difficult to work with, we suggest replacing it with a good 1/4" or 3/8" rubber hose that'll cost about $30.
INCLUDES: 6-gallon compressor; 16-gauge 1-2-1/2" finish nailer; 18-gauge 5/8-2" brad nailer; 18-gauge 1/2-1-1/2" narrow-crown stapler; 1/4"x40' hose; canvas bag; and fasteners.
I could drive 25 2-1/2" finish nails, 40 2" brads, or 35 1-1/2" staples before the oil-free compressor engaged. Even though this model was comparatively quiet at 82 dB, it's still a good idea to wear hearing protection. The nailers all have effective depth adjustments and moveable exhaust ports, but few other frills. Only the finish nailer has a quick-release to clear jams--although I could never jam it--and all will dry-fire when out of fasteners, shortening the nailer's life and leaving pockmarks on the workpiece. Despite weighing 38 lbs, the compressor is easy to carry.
--Tested by Bob Hunter, Tools & Techniques Editor
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