Expert Answers: Cordless Nailer Options

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This article is from Issue 78 of Woodcraft Magazine.

Q: I’m planning to buy a cordless finish nailer, but I’m not sure whether to go with a model that uses a gas cartridge, or one that’s simply battery powered.

Porter-Cable PCC790LA 20V MAX Lithium 18GA Cordless Brad Nailer $184.99
Grex GC1850 Cordless 18-Gauge Brad Nailer, $439.99

A: Battery-powered nailers cost less—a lot less, in some cases. There are other advantages too. For example, the 20V battery used to power Porter-Cable’s 18-gauge brad nailer (shown here) can also be used with other Porter-Cable cordless tools. And you don’t have a second fuel source to worry about. Finally, there’s no unpleasant combustion odor to deal with.

There are a few advantages to gas-type cordless nailers, like the Grex model shown here. Because this type of nailer is more compact than battery-only models, it has the maneuverability to get into tight spots that a bulky battery-only model can’t reach. Along with the compact size you get lighter weight and more comfortable balance. So if you’re using your nailer for an extended period of time, you’ll have less fatigue and arm strain.

In use, both of the nailers shown here performed well, and have important features like depth/power adjustment,

and a useful range of brad lengths (up to 2"). Grex claims that they’ve reduced combustion odor and improved the longevity of gas cartridges. I found both of these claims to be true, but I haven’t tested comparable models from other manufacturers.

—Tim Snyder, chief editor

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