How to use a Nail Gun with an Air Compressor

Learning how to use a nail gun with an air compressor is essential for safely and successfully completing the nailing project. The process includes connecting the compatible nail gun and air compressor. You will also learn how to insert the right nails for the particular project and handling the nail gun appropriately for pro-level tasks.

The wrong nailing project can creates lots of difficulties and it can damage the working surface. It also can harm to the nail gun operator. Therefore, we will discuss the right method step-by-step so the reader can learn to use a nail gun with an air compressor successfully. Apart from these, we have included some safety measuring tips to help operate without getting hurt or damaging anything.

How to use a Nail gun with an air compressor Step by Step Guides

Before proceeding, make sure you have your nail gun, air compressor, and air hose.

Pick the right Nail Gun based on its purpose

Different types of nail guns come with a unique feature to complete different nailing tasks. So you want to use the right nail gun for trim or a certain purpose. Some common types are:

Finish Nail Gun: It’s a larger size nail gun that has 15-16 gauges and is perfect for repairing old furniture. This finish nail gun is suitable for applying to wood and other tough surfaces.

Framing Nail Gun: This nail gun is ideal for bigger tasks like reconstructing an old tool shed or redoing the patio deck. It can drive through 2.8mm nails without splitting the wood or damaging the plaster surface.

Brad Nail Gun: This nail gun is ideal for a light-duty project like fixing kids’ tor or nightstands as it can only drive a smaller nail with its smaller screw head.

Select nails for the Nail Gun

Nail guns are generally attached to paper, plastic, wires, and adhesive. After firing the gun, it creates heat to separate the nail and finally drive into the working surface. Therefore, adhesively connected nails are better for any surface. Once cooled down, the adhesive is set tightly.

Apart from these, you should choose between clipped and round-headed nails. These are suitable for most DIY and home jobs. The difference between these two is the gun can hold 20-30% more clipped nails and these are paper-bound while round nails are attached with plastic.

Choose the right Air Compressor

To operate a nail gun properly, it’s recommended to use a gas or electric-powered air compressor. An electric air compressor is more preferred for home use as it doesn’t emit fumes or gases. It’s your personal preference whether you want a portable or a corded device. However, a portable air compressor for nail gun is recommended for refilling a flat tire.

Connect the Air Compressor to the Nail Gun

Once you have selected the right nail gun, nails, and air compressor, it’s time to connect them. However, you can buy the best air compressor for nail gun to avoid compatibility difficulties. Firstly install the rubber stopper and wheel into the air compressor using a pair of pliers. Then fasten the air hose with the compressor and connect the nail gun with the other end of it.

After connecting the compressor and nail gun with the air hose makes sure the connection is secure completely. Then fill the oil into the air compressor if required. If you have previously known how to use an air compressor, this step will be easier for you.

Before powering on the air compressor, wear your hand gloves, goggles, and hard hat to keep safe from flying dust particles and safely complete the operation. Remember, don’t try to adjust or clean the nail gun while using it. For more safety information, check out the safety measurement section below.

Start Working with Nail Gun after Connecting with Air Compressor

Now turn on the compressor and wait a moment to let the air compressor create pressure in the tank. While 100-110 psi is the average range of pressure for most home-use compressors, adjust the pressure according to the depth you desire to drive the nails. You will need higher PSI to lift sunken nails compared to fixing them. But don’t dare go past the pressure limit of the air compressor.

Operate the nail gun

Switch on the nail gun and hold it perpendicular to the working surface to prevent angle drive. Keeping the nail gun steady, press the trigger firmly against the surface to depress the nosepiece’s safety. For starters, practice using a nail gun on a scrap of wood to ensure that the real task is completed correctly.

Adjust the depth of the nail

The working surface and the project type determine whether it needs to adjust the depth or not. For example, you can confidently load the gun and shoot it if you are framing a wall or attaching sheathing to the exterior of wall studs. Every nail head doesn’t have to sink below the plywood surface for such an operation.
Conversely, you have to adjust the nail gun for working on a smooth surface like a bookcase or cabinet where it is necessary to keep the nail head flush with the wood surface. To adjust the nail gun, turn the depth selector (placed near the trigger) until the gun shoots the nails to the desired depth.

Remove jammed nail

The best nail gun can get jammed by hitting the knot in wood too hard. If you find the gun doesn’t fire anymore once you pull the trigger, consider it a jam. If it happens, disconnect the power source and release the magazine of the nail gun. Doing so is vital as it will prevent putting pressure on the existing nails. After that, open the safety cover on the nail gun and take out the jammed nail using pliers. They close the safety cover, insert the magazine and restart the nail gun.

Finishing Off

This step will show you how to disconnect nail guns from air compressor. Remember, a nail gun will be the last device to disconnect. So before powering the compressor, carefully handle the nail gun. After completing the task, slowly lower the pressure by turning down the regular. If you reach the end, power off the compressor and release the remaining air from the tank by opening the safety valve.

Open the drain valve to release the remaining air, as it may have some amount as well. Finally, remove the nail gun from the air hose and clean it using lubricant. Before storing both the nail gun and the air compressor, make sure they have completely cooled off.

Safety Measure to Consider while using a nail gun with an air compressor

Many DIYers avoid the new tool user manuals, which isn’t good. A nail gun is quite a risky tool that injures around 37,000 people annually, according to the CDC. Thus, keeping some safety measures in mind is crucial while operating a nail gun.

Protect your ears and eyes: A larger nail gun specially designed for framing produces more noise, around 90 to 100 decibels, comparable to a gunshot. Therefore, it is suggested that you wear earplugs to protect your ears. You should wear protective eyewear. The nail gun can send flying material chips if it misfires.

Detach the nail gun from the power outlet before inserting nails or removing jammed.

Though the best nail gun is safer to use, it still has a risk of misfiring and being jammed. To prevent any accidental situation, disconnect the gun from the power source and then attempt whatever you need.

Keep the free hand away from the fire line: The most common accident is caused by holding two wood pieces in the hand and firing near them. To prevent puncturing the hand, use clamps as they can hold the wood pieces firmly in place without the hand’s support.

Keep away from the fire line: The nail may not go entirely through the work surface. So, keep all the body parts away from the fire line to prevent serious injury.

Don’t lower the nail gun by the hose: After completing the task, if you need to climb down the scaffolding or ladder, don’t lower the nail gun, especially if it’s connected to an air hose. Doing so can depress the safety nosepiece and cause a firing of the nail, which can end up causing a serious accident for the operator or people around it.

FAQs on How to use a Nail Gun with an Air Compressor

Can any air compressor run through a nail gun?

You can’t operate the nail gun using any air compressor as it requires some consideration. The air compressor must have at least 2 CFM to run a finishing nailer, while the framing nailer demands 4 CFM and a minimum 6-gallon tank to run through content.

What PSI is ideal for running a nail gun?

A nail gun requires around 70 to 90 PSI to run efficiently, and most light to medium-duty compressors can handle 90 PSI. But it is better to supply more airflow than the required to operate the nail gun conveniently.

Can I operate a nail gun without a compressor?

If the nail gun is battery powered, then it doesn’t require any compressor to run through. This type of nail gun includes a piston that compresses air and supplies air to the nail. These are more user-friendly and versatile nail guns that don’t need to stick to the air hose and compressor all the time.

Final words

Using a nail gun isn’t a tricky task, but it can be risky without proper skill. Hopefully, you have learned how to use a nail gun with an air compressor safely and successfully. But don’t make a hasty decision to apply to the real project before practicing.

Otherwise, it can damage the nailing project as well as cause you harm. Apart from these, follow the safety measures properly and use the right and compatible unit to connect them for a proper nailing job.

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Sam Morgan is a general contractor based in Charlotte, North Carolina. He does home renovations, extensions, landscaping maintenance, and general handyman jobs for homeowners. He is also the part-time content writer at Machine Handyman and a lifelong tools enthusiast. Sam loves hand tools, power tools, machinery, and DIY gadgets of all shapes and sizes! He is always researching the different types of home improvement tools that will get the best results. This site will cover products like power drills, air compressors, saws, nail guns, screw guns, grinders, cutting tools, and many more.

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