The best dang framing nailer
Many DIY enthusiasts describe the mild arousal that accompanies a new tool purchase. In fact some of us are suffused in a delicate blush just pulling into the parking lot of a home center or hardware store.
But nothing compares to the throbbing rush of getting your own framing nailer.
How intense is it? I consulted Mag Ruffman's Guide to Great Hardware Moments in Film (as yet tragically unpublished), and learned that the physiological equivalent of getting your own framing nailer is like that moment in Braveheart when Mel Gibson holds aloft his sword and yells something in Gaelic that sounds like "ARRRRR" but is probably much more specific.
In honour of the adrenaline surge my DeWALT nailer provokes, I gave it the perky nickname of, "Wallace" (after William 'Braveheart' Wallace). In Wallace's first venture (putting together an 8-foot interior wall), he performed valiantly, sinking 3-1/4" spiral shank nails into wet spruce lumber with the ease of toothpicks penetrating havarti.
The framing went WAY faster than hand-nailing, and saved me from getting the usual hammering hotspot on the outside elbow, where vibrations and impact tend to harry ligaments into an irritated cluster.
How fast was it? Hand-hammering a bunch of 3-1/4" Ardox nails to assemble an eight foot section of wall, including laying out space for the window, took an hour. An identical section of wall put together with the framing nailer took 15 minutes. Oh baby.
This particular gun (DeWALT D 51845 - a 20-degree roundhead framing nailer) costs about $700. It attaches easily to an air compressor and will save you hours and hours of work if you've got a big project on the go. You can also rent a framing nailer and air compressor from The Home Depot for about $100 a day.
I never used to be a fan of compressor-driven tools because the compressor itself is heavy and noisy and shooting the gun made me nervous because it's so fast, powerful and loud. But with the proper ear gear (my favourite ear protection is Peltor, a premium, well-padded headset available for about $30 at Lee Valley Tools).
We had to adjust the gun's depth setting properly because the nails were not sinking deep enough into the lumber, which left the heads about a half-inch proud. Then we discovered that the problem was with our compressor, which was running off a 100-foot-long extension cord. The resistance over the length of the cord was putting a bit of a squeeze on the eager electrons as they rushed toward our compressor. This dropped the available voltage to the compressor, so it just wasn't giving us enough oomph to push the nails all the way in.
The D51845 is compact (12-3/4" height) so you can get into tight spaces to toe-nail between studs. It's also refreshingly lightweight. A lot of framing nailers are heavy, bulky and require the upper-body strength of Thor to operate properly. But the DeWALT guns have a magnesium housing, and as you already know from high-school physics and the Periodic Table; the magnesium metal molecule is so light, it's practically a gas. And using this framing nailer IS a gas.