How to Use a Pneumatic Finish Nailer and Air Compressor (with video)
Welcome back for another Tool Tutorial Friday! Today I’m going to introduce you to a 2 gallon compressor and pneumatic finish nailer. I use the Campbell Hausfeld 2 gallon compressor with Pneumatic Finish Nailer. I bought these as a kit when they were on sale at Lowe’s for $69! A good price on this set is $89. There are loads of other brands out there and I’m sure they have other features and capabilities, but frankly I’ve been happy with my set that I’ve had for 2 years. Other kits can cost up to $300. The only drawback with this set is that they can not be used for framing (building walls of a house structure.) But, so far I haven’t needed to do that.
The finish nailer works very well on moulding, trim, board and batten, wainscoting, and other small wood projects.
How to Use a Pneumatic Finish Nailer and Air Compressor
The compressor is a fairly simple tool. When turned on, air builds up in the chambers until it reaches the maximum 110 psi.
The pressure going into the air hose can be controlled by the regulator button. I typically use my compressor and nailer at about 90 psi. But, if the nails are going too far into the wood, I might turn it down to 80 psi. Or if the nails aren’t going in far enough I will turn it up to 100 psi. With continual use, the pressure will drop down. When the pressure is low enough, the compressor will start itself back up to raise the pressure again.
The on/off switch on my compressor is in the back.
The finish nailer holds small brad nails up to 2″ in length and “U” shaped staples. They are held in the magazine. The safety tip on the nailer must be pressed into the wood before a nail will fire. Otherwise, the gun will not discharge.
While using the nailer and compressor it is very important to use safety goggles and ear protection.
When you are finished using the compressor, it is important to release all the air from the compressor. If you don’t release the air, moisture can build up and rust the tank. Start by reducing the pressure by turning the regulator down. Then pull the safety valve ring. It will close automatically, so you will need pull it a few times or hold it open. I also unscrew the valve at the bottom of the tank to insure it is completely empty before storing. Then I screw the valve back in.
After the tank is empty, release the hose from the nailer. Add a drop or two of penetrating oil onto and in the air inlet on the nailer to keep it well lubricated. Cover the air inlet and then you can store your nailer and compressor.
The viewer assumes all responsibility and liability associated with the hazards of woodworking. Pretty Handy Girl is not responsible for any errors or omissions that may be present in this tutorial. She also assumes no liability for any action or inaction of a viewer.
Please use extreme caution when using power tools. Read your tool manual thoroughly and wear protective safety gear. Take your time familiarizing yourself with a tool before using it. (If you are missing the manual, you can easily find it online by going to the manufacturer’s website or google your saw’s make and model + manual.)
Please recognize that I have tried to put together a basic finish nailer and compressor tutorial to get you started. I have tried my best to show the safest way to use them. That being said, I am not a professional (I only play one on this blog .)
Without further ado, here is the tutorial video:
You may want to turn the compressor off before you release the pressure. Otherwise, your compressor will kick on and start compressing air. This will cause your release valve to stick open with continuous release of compressed air, until you turn the compressor off.
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I have a porter cable compressor and nailer…air pressure is not going thru the hose to the nailer…the outlet pressure gauge registers zero
This video is really helpful. I have a house full of clamshell trim and I want to replace it with Colonial, because when I’ve had doors replaced, they use the colonial, so it doesn’t match. Contractors charge a fortune to do this so I’d rather spend a few hundred dollars on a compressor and finish nailer and do it myself. First of all, how much “kickback” does a finish nailer have? Yours sounds like not much. Second of all, what brand/size/price range do you recommend for someone just doing baseboard, door and window trim? Thanks much! These things scare the living daylights out of me but trim is so cheap and having it installed is so expensive!
JC, you can DEFINITELY install your own trim!!! The finish nail guns have very little kickback. The best time to buy tools is before Father’s Day. But, since that time has passed, you will have to follow the sales. The Campbell-Hausfeld I have has lasted several years for me and it is usually around $100 for both the compressor and nail gun. Some other brands you might look at are Bostitch and DeWalt with the latter being the priciest but the best quality. Good luck.
I just stumbled across you on facebook! I am thrilled to find you. I am almost 60 and have been painting and wallpapering rooms since I was 20. Now my daughter does it (with a little help form Mom, but she doesn’t need much help anymore!) I have always wished I knew how to use power tools and to find your tutorials on the various tools/products etc was like Christmas for me! I asked for and received an airgun nailer for Christmas a couple of years ago but can’t seem to get the knack of it. Your tutorial is brilliant! I wanted to write you a quick note of thanks, but kept finding “just one more thing” on your site I wanted to check out. You are my first blogger to follow (I am a virgin blogger/bloggerette) I look forward to honing my skills and learning many new things from you! Thank you!
Brittany, I scored the same nailer at Lowes this past thanksgiving. Today is the first time I am using it. Thanks for the tutorial. I think I am ready now . 🙂
Yeah! Have fun with it. Love mine.
Okay, disregard that last comment . . . I feel really silly, I just figured it out . . . lol
No need to feel silly. We all started out on this journey at the same spot. Consider yourself over that first hurdle!! 😉
Hi Brittany I just went out and bought the same one, but I can’t for the life of me manage to attach the air compressor hose to the nail gun. I’ve tried like crazy but it just won’t connect . . . not sure what I’m doing wrong, it has the “quick coupler” attached but no matter how much pressure I apply it won’t work…. any thoughts????
I assume you found you have to pull the collar back sometimes to get it on the nipple. Same goes for removing it, just pull the collar back to release.
I would like the impact driver since I’m forever trying to find hubby’s power screwdriver!
Thanks for another great tutorial Brittany. I’m really enjoying these tutorials. I’m asking for a pneumatic nailer for Christmas. I’ll soon be building cabinets and hanging beadboard and molding. Hmmm…I might have to ask for an early Christmas present!
ooh, one day I want to get a compressor. Nice, now when I do get one, I’ll come back here to freshen up on how to use it.