Lately, I've been tearing into the walls and doing quite a bit of framing in the kitchen. It's given me an opportunity to break out a framing nailer and have some fun. If you've been following along, you've seen me put a new one through its paces. I've added a DeWalt 20V Max XR Brushless Dual Speed Nailer to my kit. You may have spotted it as I recently used it to:
I'd been drooling over this nailer for a while.
DeWalt Cordless Nailers - One big, Happy Family
I was blessed to attend the DeWalt "Tough in the South" press event this past summer and try my hand on a bunch of their 20V MAX, cordless nailers of various types. These tools don't need air compressors, oil, or fuel cylinders, just a rechargeable, lithium ion battery and nails.
My friends at DeWalt were kind enough to let me choose a demo unit to play with. Of course I chose the framing gun, and I sure did more than play with it. I put it to serious work as I remodel our kitchen. Opinion is 100% my own.
It's a big boy
Compared to an air-powered, pneumatic nailer this is a slightly heavier tool at 7.8 lbs, but I found it easily manageable. It's comparable in size to my beloved Porter Cable pneumatic nailer (7.3 lbs.), but without the added fun of a compressor and a bit less nail holding capacity.
The DeWalt nailer takes 2" to 3.5", 30 or 34 degree angled, paper tape nails, with either clipped or offset, full-round heads. I generally prefer to use nails by the same manufacturer as the tool, but my local Home Depot didn't carry the DeWalt nails I wanted. I picked up a box of Paslode offset full-head nails with ring shanks.
They load into the magazine like other framing nailers. Slide back a little handle, slip a strip of nails in, and let the spring loaded handle pop back into place. It pushes the nails to the top of the magazine, ready for action.
The battery pack slips on from the rear of the tool, the opposite direction of my drill and impact driver. The battery weight actually gives the nailer a little bit better balance in the hand, once it's installed.
The kit I have came with a 4.0 amp hour, 20V MAX* XR lithium-ion battery, but there is a bare tool (no included battery) option available which would save a few bucks. I also tried the nailer out with 2.0 ah and 5.0 ah batteries from my collection. Both worked well. Admittedly, I'm not a house construction framer shooting nails all day long, but I pulled the trigger plenty. I never had to replace a pack during my day's work, probably shooting a couple hundred nails a day.
Other Cool Features
Besides the whole cordless / hoseless / air compressor-less thing, which is the absolute selling point, this tool has some nice additions:
Rafter Hook - There's a meaty hook that swivels out when needed. It's wide enough to latch securely onto a 2x sized board and hold it securely. I like that way better than standing atop a ladder with a freaking nail gun clenched between my knees when I need to use both hands for something else. Think about it.
Dual Speed Motor - Unlike earlier generations of cordless nailers, this is not a motor that uses liquid fuel to power a tiny air compressor in the tool. This type has some kind of internal flywheel spinny thing, inside. When you pull the trigger, it spools up to speed until the nose piece / safety is depressed against the wood. The DCN692 has a two speed selector switch to adjust how much power hits the nail for different lengths or wood density
Removable Nose Piece Cover - Like most framing nailers, there's a nose cap that can be used when you don't want to mark up the wood too much. I removed it to use the aggressive, shark teeth beneath it. They stab into the wood as the safety depresses, great for angled shots.
No oil - You don't have to add a drop of air tool oil each day or add an in-line oiler with this tool. Just another step to skip.
Sequential and Bump Firing Modes - I prefer to pull place the gun, pull the trigger, and press it forward to shot the nail. I like the precision style. If you're the type to go full Rambo and wackety-wack nails one after the other, it does have a bump trigger. You simply pull the trigger and pop the nails in one after the other while keeping it pulled.
I used this setting to build the big load-bearing beam.
I tried this mode twice, once on the beam, once sistering some 2x4s vertically. It worked pretty good, but those were the times I suffered a nail jam. I don't know if I was moving to fast, if it's a bug in the tool, or if it was because I was using off-brand nails. No worries because this nailer features,...
Easy Reset and recovery
When I did have a jam, it was easy to clear. The nose mechanism loosens up easily with an allen wrench. Pop the bent nail out and tighten everything back down. Easy.
On a couple other occasions, I can't really tell what I did, but I "stalled" the motor, stopping the nailer. I think I didn't fully depress the nose safety by the time I let off the trigger. There's a simple stall reset lever on top of the nailer. It usually did the trick, but once I had to pop the battery off and back on to reset it. Back to work.
It's good nail gun. I love grabbing it and shooting even if I only need a couple quick nails. It's just so damn portable and easy.
To buy or not to buy,... for the DIY'er?
Compared to pneumatic framing guns, this is a spendy proposal to consider. It's close to twice the price. It's also a lot more complex, with on-board electronics and a more moving parts.
If you already have an air compressor and don't mind lugging power cords and air hoses, have no problem with compressor noise, and don't need advanced features, maybe a pneumatic gun is a better choice.
Damn it's cool.
Like I said earlier, I'm not a professional framer by any means. I'm a goof-ball, weekend warrior / DIY'er, who's going to use this a few times a year..but here's the deal: I like tools; I really freaking love cordless tools. Convenience, speed, and portability rule my choices for the weekend.
I don't even own many corded tools anymore, because I have scientifically concluded that cords are for chumps. (Can you put out a 20V router please DeWalt?!!!)
I'm one of those dudes that is willing to pay good money for good tools and be happy with it,... because I love it. I even bought a second one, a DeWalt DCN660B 20V 16 Gauge 20° Finish Nailer which I haven't even properly introduced to you yet.
Birthday, Christmas, Father's Day, a couple extra nickes under the couch cushions? Put it all towards high-end tools for me!
I really like this framing nailer. I don't think I'll go back to pneumatic.
Regular readers know my cordless tool collection primarily utilizes the DeWalt 20V MAX Battery.
When I'm shopping for something new, I'm committed to the DeWalt system through my ever growing collection of these batteries. Plus, they are great quality tools.
There are plenty of fine competing lines out there, but for this generation of cordess tools, I'm currently a DeWalt guy.
The rest of my toolbox is a rainbow of colors, with plenty of black and yellow throughout.
There's more framing to come. I'm going to add an exterior door at the far end of the kitchen. I'll have to enlarge the window opening to accommodate it. There shall be some serious framing required, I assure you.
I'll also be installing a bunch of trim soon. We'll also see my new DeWalt cordless finishing nailer in action too. Watch for that.
Catch up on my whole project on the Kitchen Remodel Feature Page.
6 MONTH UPDATE: I’ve been running into more and more jams lately. It’s to the point of real frustration. I’m going to take it in to the DeWalt Service center to see if they can do some adjusting to get me back on track. The finishing nailer, however, is a rock star! Not a single jam, ever!!!!
6.5 MONTHS and Beyond: The repair center figured it out. It doesn’t like the Paslode nails I’d been feeding it. Switch it up to DeWalt or Bostich nails, and I’m back in action!!!