View Full Version : Tool question- Nail guns

03-24-2005, 09:06 AM
Not related to plumbing but this is the remodel forum...
I need to purchase a compressor and framing nailer. I've used them before when working for contractors years back but never owned for my own DIY around home use.

I'm looking for a budget setup- to finish my basement and other minor home projects so not for day-after-day, year-after-year use.
I've seen a 6 gallon, Porter Cable pancake compressor, and Porter Cable nailer, The total is around $370
I've seen similar products in an off brand from Harbor Freight- nailer and compressor- Central Pneumatic brand where the combined cost is about $200.

Wondered if anybody had experience with this Central Pneumatic brand or any other thoughts on framing nailers and/or compressors?
For the nailers: Any thoughts on the angle 21 deg, or 32 deg? Full round head v. clipped head? Brands,etc?

03-24-2005, 09:21 AM
I have always, or it seems like always had a compressor around the house. My suggestion would be to look to a larger size like a 5 to 6 hp with a larger tank. The smaller ones are fine if you only expect to use a nailer but, the chances are that you will want to use other tools once you have the air available.

I have a few CP tools, have found them cost effective for home or light use. However, they usually do not have the performance of the more expensive name brands. Very often the lower price tools will use more air and give less performance than the higher priced ones. In my case I have a mixture of qualities based on what I needed them for.

Hope this helps.


03-24-2005, 09:26 AM
So with the Central Pneumatic they fall apart or anything like that?
With the CP tools: what would you say is the difference in performance compared to say the Porter Cable?
Any thoughts on clipped nails v. full round? or different angles.

03-24-2005, 12:15 PM
Not saying that CP's will fall apart, I have found that the lower price air tools many times just fall short in performance from the higher priced spreads. This may be by requiring more air (cfm) to operate, to not having the same power, to a shorter life.

Your use of a nailer will dictate the type of nail and the angle which works best. ie; framing vs finish, etc

The required pressure and cfm will dictate the size of the compressor and tank. If you are strictly looking for nailer use, a smaller system will be fine.


03-24-2005, 03:02 PM
Thanks Paul.
Any feedback from others is greatly appreciated.

03-24-2005, 03:11 PM
Your usage will dictate the compressor. If you are doing major framing, a small tank and low HP compressor, will not keep up with the demand and you will eventually have to stop while the compressor catches up or you will not drive the nails into the wood properly. Be sure whichever one you buy has nails available locally. I like the Bostitch, but others prefer Senco and other brands.

03-24-2005, 06:44 PM
I run my framing nailer off a 4 gallon, 2 horse power comperssor, it is the one with the dual stacked tanks. No problem, would it run two nailers all day at a job site probably not but for reno's etc. you should be fine.

03-24-2005, 06:46 PM
One other thing..........like Paul said, check the air consumption for the nailer and check the air output of the compressor at 60 psi.

05-02-2005, 11:39 AM
I finally bought a nail gun and compressor:
Porter Cable FR350 - Bought at Tool King which has real store here in the Denver area but most of their business is online. It was only $169 factory reconditioned and full warranty just like new. Looked new and all. Seems to work fine but a little disappointed in the power. When nailing into the 50 yr. old douglas fir floor joist w/ 3 1/2 inch nails I have to hammer them in the last 1/4" especially if the compressor in on the low end of the cycle (below 85-90psi the power drops off). PC has a new version of the 350 the FR350A which has tool-less depth adjust and tool free air exhaust direction. But for the money and my use it seems fine.
Wondered if the ability to nail into old doug fir (or other wood) is common w/ nailers?

Compressor: All Trade 3HP, 5 gal., from Checker Auto $89. Oil drive. It's pretty quiet and simple. I've been trying to adjust the cut-in and cut-out pressure even though the settings "were made at the factory." I want to adjust the low cut-in to avoid the low power problem above.
Wondered if the regulator (which seems to regulate the flow not the pressure) has any impact (should I have it full open or more on the closed side?)?

05-02-2005, 12:05 PM
The regulator controls the pressure. I would set it a few pounds above the called for pressure of the nailer. Hose size and length will effect the volume of air provided to the gun.

05-02-2005, 12:21 PM
I usually ran mine at 100 psi, but if the compressor does not have the capacity, then continuous nailing is going to drop the pressure below the optimum level and performance will suffer until it has a chance to recover to full pressure again.

05-02-2005, 03:59 PM
When operating the compressor I turn it on and it pressures up to about 115-120psi then I tried adjusting the regulator but nothing happens at the outlet guage. Is that normal? I assumed that when the regulator was adjusted there would be a change in the pressure on the guage there.
Wonder if there is a defect w/ my regulator. Although I thought a regulator would regulate the flow rate not necessarily the pressure which is whatever the pressure of the tank is.
Any thoughts?

05-02-2005, 04:01 PM
I think that the regulator adjusts the output pressure, not the flow.

05-02-2005, 04:03 PM
So maybe I do have a problem w/ the regulator.???

05-03-2005, 06:15 AM
As you adjust the regulator to a higher pressure you should see the increase on the output gauge. However, when you decrease the setting, it may take some air movement before you see the pressure reduce. If you are not seeing any change, it sounds like there may be a problem.

Also, check the specs for the nailer (pressure and cfm), then check the specs on the compressor. You are looking to see that it can supply the required cfm at the required pressure. As I said before, the size and length of your hose will also effect the cfm at the tool.

As you use any air tool, keep it oiled per the user manual, for max performance and life.

Having said all that, yes it is possible that old seasoned hard wood can give some problems.


05-03-2005, 09:14 AM
I check out the compressor and regulator and think I might have figured out the right settings. I adjusted the pressure control up so that that it cuts-in at about 92psi and cut-out about 122psi. Then adjusted the regulator to about 115psi. The compressor runs up to 122psi then the regulator adjusts the output down to 115psi. You can hear it hiss out until it hits 115psi. I didn't get to try it out because of noise waking sleeping kids. The "factory" had set the pressure control a little low, it cut-in at about 80-83psi. The result was that the last couple of nails would be left high, especially if driving into the old harder wood.
As for the nailer the PC FR350 just says that it is designed to work best w/ air at 70-120psi. They don't address flow rate (CFM) because that would depend on how fast you nail I suppose. My experience so far is that any pressure under 90psi is not enough for the 3 1/2" nails. But maybe my nailer sucks!?

05-06-2005, 08:36 AM
Sounds like your nailer is probably working fine. Most compressors are set for a cut in of about 75 - 85#. Not surprised that the nailer needs the higher pressure for hard woods. Keeping your cut in above 90# should solve your problems.

The fact that they don't list cfm would probably indicate that it is not critical for the nailer. However, I would suspect that if you ran .25 inch hose at long lengths it could create an issue. You would have the pressure but not enough flow to do the job.

Normal lengths of 50 to 100 feet should not be a problem. My preference is no less than 3/8 inch.

Now that you have the air available, I'm sure you will find other uses for it than just the nailer. :)