Pneumatic Versus Electric Brad Nailers

Pros compare notes on air-powered and electric brad nailers. December 14, 2005

Anybody know anything about electric brad nailers (pros, cons, good ones, bad ones, etc.)?

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor F:
Electric solenoids just can't compete with pneumatics or hydraulics, performance wise.

From contributor A:
I have used both electric and pneumatics. There is no comparison. Go pneumatic.

From contributor M:
For in-shop assembly, pneumatic wins hands down for speed and power. However, cordless electric on an installation means no compressor to lug around, no hoses and no running out of gas (i.e. Paslode cordless). Senco makes one. Don't drop it, though - the plastic housing isn't the best, but no worse than most cordless drills. It has an adjustable depth stop, can fire a 2-1/2" - 16 gauge nail and I have used it to put up 100 linear feet of Tudor style solid oak wainscoting trim in a basement bar, with only occasional jamming.

From the original questioner:
Thanks. More specifically, I was asking about the corded ones. I'm assuming they're kind of hobby grade, but if they are decent, one might not be bad to have when you just need a few shots. Thinking about getting the Dewalt 18v 16ga, but a smaller one would be good to have, too. I just found that Craftsman is now making a 19.2v 18 ga. that shoots 5/8- 1.25". Might be a possibility. I'm just sick of lugging a compressor for usually under 20 nails.

From contributor G:
I bought a small air tank - 2-3 gallons - from the auto section of some store, mounted an air coupling on it and use it with an 8' air hose for small jobs. Sometimes I bring my compressor, but leave it on the truck to refill the tank if necessary. I use the tank with 16ga and 18ga nailers. Just refill it when the pressure gets low.

From contributor M:
The reason I say that pneumatic wins for assembly is that all electric guns, cordless or not, need to create the pressure to fire a nail. The reason I bought the Senco was for the convenience, not the speed. Every time it fires a nail, it takes a second to develop pressure, so there is no rapid fire. But on a residential install, there is no scaring the crap out of the client's dog every time it starts up, no hoses leaving marks on their baseboards, and no damage being done hauling a 100 pound compressor down a flight of stairs.

As far as the Quickstrike tank goes, talk about plumber's smile, bending down to nail a toe kick or base with that 9 pounds plus tank hanging off your belt! And if it's sitting on the floor, it's going to get kicked over and that long stem looks fragile. What a projectile that could make!

The refillable tanks - CO2, gas cartridge or compressed air - run out. And two of them cost money to replenish. The cordless comes with a second battery and a charger. Cost covered at initial purchase. The drawbacks are it's slow and of hobbyist grade construction.

From the original questioner:
I have scared dogs, woken people up, vibrated things off the wall, tripped people with 4000 ft. of hose. It's so bad all you can do is laugh. I guess two sided tape is about the best solution for putting trim on.

From contributor H:
I've got a very small Senco compressor (weighs about 20 lbs) for install. It puts out enough air for a brad or staple nailer, but not much more. I've seen these cordless guns, but haven't tried one myself. If you have to lug around a huge compressor just to nail on crown, you ought to get this baby.

From contributor J:
I use the Porter Cable nailer with a mini compressor built into it and I think it works great. When the battery dies or if a compressor is convenient, you can plug an air hose into it. It's a little heavy, but worth the extra weight for the convenience.

The comments below were added after this Forum discussion was archived as a Knowledge Base article (add your comment).

Comment from contributor D:
I bought a Task Force Heavy Duty 1 1/4 inch brad nailer (ETT3212N) and it hasnít performed well for me. It mars the wood, jams easily, and now the nose firing enable mechanism is bent and jammed. I only need a nailer occasionally and would have a hard time justifying the cost of a compressor and the gun, but if the Task Force product is the best there is in electric 1 1/4 inch nailers, then pneumatic appears to be the only way to go.