Do I need a nail gun? - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 19 Old 06-28-2009, 11:42 PM Thread Starter
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Do I need a nail gun?

I'm planning on building the planter's desk from the New Yankee as my next project. I currently don't own a nail gun and I'd rather not spend the $$ as I'm new and building my tool collection up as I go (dado and router bits for this project). I can see how to get away without the nail gun in 90% of the situations Norm uses it.

Question: For decorative moulding, like on the top of the hutch, is there a viable way to secure it without a nailer? I might be able to screw it in from the back, but I'm wondering if glue is enough? My goal is not only to save the $$, but I hate nail holes and wood putty like no man should hate anything.

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post #2 of 19 Old 06-28-2009, 11:56 PM
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I am not sure of exactly what you are making, but why not use finish nails and pre-drilled holes? I think you actually get a tighter fit and have better control with finish nails since you can slowly set the nails. It is obviously much slower but who cares. Learning to do it with nails will also make you a better builder in the long run. Norm has access to all the best tools, but from what I remember he is an old school carpenter who paid his dues. I am sure he can do eveything by hand that he uses power tools. Norm was the carpenter who actually new how to do everything. Bob Villa could barely turn a screw driver without 'fing up the situation.
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post #3 of 19 Old 06-29-2009, 06:17 AM
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Sometimes nail/brad guns make life easier. They also make holes that then have to be hidden.

I cannot think of a thing that a nail gun would do that glue would not do at least as well. May take a few more minutes but it will certainly do the job.

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post #4 of 19 Old 06-29-2009, 09:42 PM
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quote:Question: For decorative moulding, like on the top of the hutch, is there a viable way to secure it without a nailer? I might be able to screw it in from the back, but I'm wondering if glue is enough?

Too funny, Tim. What do you think we did before they made nail guns? When you are nailing by hand, you are a lot more careful and judicious about how you place your nails and how many you use. If you use some good glue and clamps, you can minimize how many nails you use. Filling nail holes should be looked at as one of the finishing touches to a nice project. Don't dread them, they can be fun. If you are staining the wood, fill the nail holes with a colored putty after you have put at least one coat of clear finish on. The excess will rub right off. If you are painting, fill them after the prime coat with a good wood filler that sands easy. Sand them at the same time you are sanding after the prime coat. Let us know how you make out and post some pics,
Mike Hawkins
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post #5 of 19 Old 06-30-2009, 04:59 AM
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There are a few ways to do this, and how successful you are may depend on how good a craftsman you are.

The most tedious would be blind nailing. That is where you use a knife and lift up a section of wood, like a small flap, and drive in a finish nail, and then carefully glue back down the flap.

Or, you can drive in small finish nails to the substrate, snip off the heads, and leave about 1/4" or so of the nail proud. Then tap down the moulding that has a bit of glue on the back. Make sure the nails are 90 degrees to the substrate so the moulding goes down straight.

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post #6 of 19 Old 06-30-2009, 11:58 AM
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No, but...

Yes, you should have a gun. In this case, as in furniture making, a pinner. Grex Headless Pinners shoot 23 guage headless pins that in many cases, do NOT need to be filled artifically - sanding alone fills what little remains from these nearly invisable holes. But, they're pricey.

If money is the issue (as with most of us) and you're determined to do a good job, and do it right, Harbor Freight sells a 23 guage headless pinner for $24.99 (#97526-OVGA). Don't own one, but for that price, and your dilema, it might be just the ticket.

Good luck. In your application, a headless pinner is absolutely the way to go. Once you use it, you'll be looking for projects to use it in!
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post #7 of 19 Old 06-30-2009, 05:46 PM
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What sold me on a nail gun is that I can quickly nail something up without knocking everything else out of whack. When you shoot a nail into the wood nothing else moves.

Iím a die hard DIY guy. Donít tell me to hire someone for what I can do myself.
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post #8 of 19 Old 06-30-2009, 07:38 PM
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Use a hammer, and for the border, glue is ok, as long as you caulk it, and seal it. Also, I think using screws is a BAD idea in crown, it looks terrible, just use nails. You'll be glad you did. Sorry, but molding doesn't just hold with glue, it needs glue and nails, especially on something that decorative.
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post #9 of 19 Old 07-01-2009, 10:24 PM
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I would definitely use a nail gun, although predrilling and using #4d finish nails may do the trick. I agree with Bob tho, the 23 gauge micro pinner is the way to go and harbor freight has them cheap...also recon tools are avail at . Campbell hausfeld has some very inexpensive guns.
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post #10 of 19 Old 07-21-2009, 02:33 PM
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Since most of my projects involve just me, I use clamps where possible to hold my parts together then glue and fasten them together with a nail gun. Since I'm not a pro, I bought my nailers (framing, trim and brad) at harbor freight. They work just fine for my use. At my age, I don't think I will ever wear them out.

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post #11 of 19 Old 07-21-2009, 11:08 PM
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IMHO it isn't the nail gun but the whole compressor etc. system that is the advantage. Think of all of the car tires, bike tires for the entire neighborhood, soccer balls, blowing dust out of dowel holes, etc. I can't imagine my shop (or neighborhood) without a compressor system. It is worth every penny that I spent on the system.

You can get a full compliment of nail guns from HF for probably less than $100. I have HF 18 ga. Brad/Staple and a 23 ga. Staple guns. They are very good guns although I only use them for staples. I also have different brands of Brad, Finish and Pin nail guns. They all have their uses and do get used frequently.

For starters, I would get the HF brad (18 ga.) gun for less than $20 and a 23 ga. pin nail gun also in the $20 range. Look, they're not Grex nail guns but I doubt that a $300 Grex pin nail gun would out last 15 HF guns.

Use the right tool for the job.

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post #12 of 19 Old 08-13-2009, 02:28 PM
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Using a nail gun is a no-brainer to me. Even if you predrill and carefully nail you get movement in the pieces. With a nail gun, whap! and the parts are together. I especially like it for miters on picture frames and any mitered skirting and the like. Put on a little wood glue, hold the parts together place a nice finish pin and you are done. No more corner clamps for me!! Before I had my air nailers I did all the trim and casing on my 2 story 1800 sq ft 3 bdrm home by hand. I sure learned a lot, but curse the day I didn't buy them nailers. I recently installed an outside basement (from the landing 1/2 way up) door and a bunch of step trim. Had I not used an air nailer, I might hav still been working on it. I didn't even fill the the time you get done, they are almost unseeable anyway depending on the type of wood you use. So yes, get yourself some air nailers and you will never look back. Cheers! Wolf-==-
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post #13 of 19 Old 09-09-2009, 06:55 PM
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An old saying was "nails are just to hold the parts together until the glue dries." If you don't want to use nails, don't.

That said, the advice on pin nailers is true. They barely need any attention.

I worked in wood for twenty-five years before I got my first nailer. It was a yard sale special and it changed my life and way of working. Now I have framing nailers, coil nailers, a pin nailer, several 16 and 18 gauge brad nailers and at least two staplers. Things that, before, took an hour, were now done in a minute or two.

For nail holes and wax putties, I always keep a jar of white and black around. Not to fill white or black holes, but to alter what the factories offer. A bit of black darkens a batch and a bit of white lightens. I just roll them together. Apply it and, if you don't like the color match, just dig out the previous application and push in the new.

I did a plywood book shelf out of stuff a friend had laying in her yard just to see if I could make something out of it someone would want. Using this wax mixing method, I was able to so closely match the shifts in wood grain colors I couldn't find several of the eighteen gauge nail holes.
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post #14 of 19 Old 09-14-2009, 05:37 PM
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Use a finish nailer

Use a tico nailer, or finish gun. Its a pretty basic piece of carpentry equipment, I would recommend you try to find a used one, there are plenty out there and if you are doing this as a trade, you will eventually need to figure out repairing them anyway.
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post #15 of 19 Old 09-15-2009, 11:28 AM
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I put moldings on an 18th century keeping box with a little glue and square, tapered, wooden pegs. They'll stay there for ever. You can see it if you click on my photos, then click the picture and then the center picture has the best veiw of them. For nails, I use reproduction cut nails when I can.
Nail guns are great but I dont get much use from them.

Last edited by 12penny; 09-15-2009 at 11:41 AM.
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post #16 of 19 Old 12-14-2009, 03:00 PM
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Learn to do things right and develop good skills, then get a couple of good nail guns. My right elbow and shoulder love my nail guns, especially my frame nailer when doing that sort of thing (old injuries)!
I am not a good craftsman and I can tell you the nail guns are very addictive and will slow your skill development considerably, so you need to decide where your priorities lie. Mine are torn between efficiency and skill development leaning heavily toward an ADHD like need to finish things!

Don't Panic
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post #17 of 19 Old 12-15-2009, 07:41 AM
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Do i need an air nailer?

Would an air nailer make your life easier----"YES"
Firehawk and Cabinetman gave you terrific answers.
Air nailers weren't in too many cabinet shops years ago. MHO, the lack of mechanical fastening devices is the reason we have the caliber of craftsmen we have, makes you think before you drive that nail/brad and with your air nailer, then later in the project you want to for driving that nail/brad because you now have to hide it.
OMT--I have a friend in Ohio, all he has ever done is build cabinets. He has hidden a few nails in some of his work, but i will tell you, 99.9% of his cabinets has nothing but glue holding them together and he builds top end cabinetry.
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post #18 of 19 Old 12-15-2009, 11:35 AM
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Do i need an air nailer?

Only if you want to install brad or nails in an efficient, effective manner. Nails are used in many instances besides attaching trim or nailing finish wood to a cabinet or piece of furniture. They are used in building jigs, temporary bracing, hidden cletes, wall cletes, closet shelves etc etc.
No you don't need it to build a planters desk...but don't need a planters desk either.
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post #19 of 19 Old 12-17-2009, 08:56 AM
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I guess it comes down to 3 different situations... If you are in a situation where you make money on a bid basis than it makes sense to have a nail gun to help things move along faster. If you are working on a time and material basis and the client appreciates fine craftsmanship without power tools than great and the last situation would be that you are doing projects on your own time and it makes no difference if you are done tomorrow or next month. Since I am in the field everyday, it seems, I have ended up with 4 nail guns, 18g brad, 15g angle, 23g pin and a stapler and I dig each one.
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