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Palm nailers

After a slow start, contractors start to applaud the flexible little nailers

KeyholePalm nailers looked like a great idea when they were first introduced but it took a while to catch on among Canadian contractors and home builders. Meant for framing jobs, the original palm nailers were considered under-powered, noisy and, since they required extra air lines, a complicated option for a hammer or nail gun. Other pros considered them more of a DIY tool, which in many ways they are. In fact, they might be an ideal nailer for an amateur because they are safer to use than a big nail gun.
Palm nailers are small, air-powered tools that fit into the palm of your hand. Most units strap around the wrist to keep the nailer stable. Unlike conventional nailers, a palm nailer doesn't take sticks or coils of nails; you simply use standard nails. Fit your nail into the tip, press the unit down on the head, and the nailer takes charge. An internal "hammer" begins a pounding action and, with a bang, the nail is driven.
Most contractors liked the fact that palm nailers could get into some places that are difficult for regular nailers to reach, such as joist hangers in tight corners, but they found them slower than a one-bang nail gun.
Still, as the palm nailers moved from the framer crews to the drywall crews, appreciation started to grow. Contractors installing decks also began to use them because the palm nailers can drive nails in and countersink them at the same time.
One deck installer, using the Porter-Cable Palm Nailer PN650 for the first time, noted there is also less chance of marking the deck planks with a palm nailer than a large nail gun and the palm unit proved faster and less tiring than using a hammer. "I've now put over 4,000 decking ring nails, 3,000 three-inch galvanized and almost 1,000 four-inch galvanized nails through the PN650. Both my wrist and the nailer show no symptoms of wear," he said in an on-line review.
One big advantage is that the palm nailers are inexpensive and don't take up much space in the toolbox. Prices range from $60 to just over $100, a modest price for a flexible tool that can make nails disappear with one push.
There are a number of good palm nailers on the market.
The Porter-Cable Palm Nailer PN650 weighs in at 2-1/2 pounds and will operate on air pressure from 50-120 psi. The unit is 4-1/2 inches high and comes with a kit that includes four tips, a formed plastic case and a strap-on glove.
The Senco A20 Pneumatic hand nailer is a compact, well-balanced unit ideal for fastening in tight spaces. It drives bulk nails from one inch to 3.5 inches. Weighing two pounds, it runs from 80 to 125 PSI. The Senco has a depth-of-drive control for precise nail placement and comes with a moulded comfort grip.
The Danair Inc. RN- 16 Palm Nailer has interchangeable guides to handle finish nails and common nail head diameters up to 7/8". Nails can be countersunk or left standing to a predetermined height. The Palm Nailer is easily held and allows the user to reach any nail, in any position, and in places a standard hammer cannot be swung. The Danair Palm has no trigger; a light pressure on the nail stops when the nail is driven.
There are a number of other palm nailers out there. Take a look at what's available and try them out for a test. You might be surprised at just how powerful and versatile the little rigs are
. HB

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