Archive for the ‘Cool Tools’ Category

Many jobs that are an avoidable chore can be wrapped up quickly with a brad nailer. Most small compressors will be able to handle basic 18 gauge brad nailing. It can be confusing, since compressors are rated by both their maximum pressure per square inch (PSI) and by the amount of continuous air they can provide to your tools (CFM Cubic Feet per Minutes). My smaller compressor for household use will deliver around 3.7 CFM at 40 PSI and 2.6 CFM at 90 PSI.


Both the size of the tank and how powerful the compressor is will impact these ratings, so compressor HP or tank size alone is not the best indicator of your machine’s air delivery. This is enough power for brad and frame nailing or light spray painting and less continuous use of a smaller air chisel or air ratchet. Other tools that require continuous air delivery, like a powerful orbital sander or polisher, would need a much bigger compressor and tank. As always, the right tool should be matched for the job. Using a small compressor with a high CFM tool on a big continuous use project will just take usable years off your machine’s life.

A nailer with an adjustable exhaust port is not essential, but will help keep the air exhaust from blowing in your face when working awkward angles. Most air tools have a maximum PSI rating and a range of operable PSI. While your compressor may be rated at a higher PSI, you will have to use the regulator to adjust the PSI provided to the tool. A good nailer will also allow you to adjust the depth of the nail and that adjustment will depend on the range of PSI provided to the tool. This sounds complicated, but only requires a few test nails to get the depth you need for the material you are working with. 

Rubber compression hoses seem less stiff and easier to work with than PVC hoses, but this is not a big deal if you can save money with a packaged kit that includes the hose.

1/2" to 2" Brad nailer

18 gauge, 1/2" to 2" Brad nailer

This is one tool where the owners manual should be read. Also, most compressors need a break in period of continuous run time with the bleed valve open. Air tools and compressors also require specific maintenance routines that should be followed, such as bleeding condensation out of the tank to avoid corrosion.

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