We are a young couple remodeling our first house...one outdated / ugly thing at a time. This blog documents our remodel projects and ideas.


RTH Tool School - Air Compressor and Nail Gun

Hello and welcome to the very first Remodel This House Tool School! I'm super excited about this and hopefully it will be very informative. Heck, I'll probably learn something new myself. I am not going to get all technical. I believe in the KISS principle so this will be an introduction to the tools and simple instructions ...nothing more. And I'm going to use the tools that I have on hand so yours might be different. Let's get started! The first tool in this school is a nail gun and air compressor, since it is my newest addition to my tool chest.  Here she is in the box:
How Air Compressors Work  (well, how mine works) - Pistons compress air in a cylinder and then store it in a high-pressure storage tank. Anytime I use the air, the pressure inside the tank slowly decreases. Once the pressure drops to a certain level, the compressor automatically turns on to build the pressure back up. A smaller tank will hold less air so the compressor will have to work more often. Whereas a larger tank will hold more air, but will take longer to fill back up when used.

CFM - My compressor has a CFM rating of .39.  And I know I said I wasn't going to get technical, but CFM (amount of air flow) is an important number to look at when shopping for an air compressor. Every air tool requires a certain amount of CFM, or amount of air flow, to operate. The greater the CFM, the more air the tool uses. So you need an air compressor that will produce more CFM than your most powerful tool requires. And I have a handy chart to show tools and CFM:

                   Brad Nailer: 0.3 CFM                      Ratchet: 2-5CFM
                   Sander: 11-13 CFM                        Spray Gun: 2-4 CFM
                   Impact Wrench: 4-5 CFM                Die Grinder: 4-6 CFM

My .39 is enough to use my nailer; however, it wouldn't be enough for a sander. I would need a larger compressor for the higher CFM tools. Also, some people look at the PSI rating only. Well, most air tools require 90 PSI to operate and the majority of air compressors produce at least 90 PSI. So you should be good here. Just make sure that the compressor has a high enough CFM.

Pressure Regulator Knob - Adjust this knob to regulate the amount of air going to the tool. Turn to the right for more, and to the left for less. When turning on the air compressor, make sure this knob is all the way to the left (closed) so the tank can fill up. You can see what the pressure is on the outlet psi gauge.
Outlet PSI Gauge - This gauge shows the amount of air going to the tool. For nailing and stapling, pressure should be between 90 psi and 100 psi. You can increase or decrease the psi with the pressure regulator knob.
Tool Holder - This handy hook is for storing the nailer.
Regulator Outlet - This is where the air hose is connected to the compressor.
Release Valve - Pull on the release valve to drain the air from the tank.
On/Off - The power switch.

Tire Chuck - Connect this to the end of the air hose to inflate tires. The tire chuck is actually just the end piece and it is on a male adapter.
Male Plug with Adapter - This is required if you want to attach any inflation devices to the air hose. The air hose is a female end, and the male plug with adapter will enable you to attach the tire chuck or inflation needle/nozzle.
Inflation Needle - Attach this to the adapter end of the male plug. Use the inflation needle to air up balls - basket balls, soccer balls, volley balls, etc.
Inflation Nozzle - Attach this to the adapter end of the male plug. Use the inflation nozzle to air up pool floats, or anything with the plastic things you have to bite to air up.

That sums up the compressor introduction, now let's move on to the nailer/stapler.

Gauge - Nail guns vary in the length and gauge (thickness) of nails they can drive. I have a finish nailer that can only do small nails and staples. The smallest size of fasteners are normally 24 to 22 gauge and generally have no head. They are used for attaching beadings, mouldings, etc. The next size up is the 18 gauge, often referred to as a "brad nail". These fastenings are used in the same way as the smaller fastenings; however, they usually have a head which leads to some hole filling. The next sizes are 16 and 15 gauge, or "finish nails". They are used in nailing softwood and MDF trim (such as baseboards) where the holes are filled and painted. The big brother to my finish nailer is a framing nailer which uses the heavy-duty big nails.
Exhaust - After you nail, excess air comes out of the exhaust, kind of like a blow-off valve. You can turn the exhaust cap to direct the air another way.
Quick Plug - This is where the air hose goes. It connects the nailer to the compressor. Also, when using the nailer, place 4-5 drops of nailer oil in here.
Trigger - All the magic is right here. Pull the trigger to fire the nailer. One trigger pull equals one nail.
Latch - Pressing the latch button will release the magazine.
Magazine - This is where the nails or staples are stored. Nails and staples come in a long line attached to each other so you can store quite a lot in the magazine and not have to constantly reload. The yellow line  shows the amount of nails or staples currently held in the magazine.
Work Contact Element - It is basically a safety feature. The work contact element has to be fully depressed onto what you are nailing in order for it to nail. If you notice that the nailer is not working, try  pushing on the nailer and depressing the work contact element better.

I had planned to record a video with the compressor and nailer. However, a snow storm is happening in AR right now and my real job requires me to work it so I didn't get the video. I will get the video shot and posted ASAP.

I hope this was a good first topic in RTH Tool School. You can read about the beginings of RTH Tool School here.


Shelly said...

Yay! I love it. Great info, can't wait for the video.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for doing this. I have been scared of power tools but now I know a little bit about them.

Lynn said...

You rock the power tools. :)

Condo Blues said...

Great run down on the air compressor and nail gun. I don't think I'd get a lot of use out of one right now so I think I'm better off renting it if the need arises.

Robin said...

This is such a timely topic! I have been starting to look into nail guns and compressors, but there's so much I don't know. You've done a great job of explaining all the important stuff. I hadn't even heard of the CFM rating before, but now I can see its just as important, if not more important, than PSI. Thanks!!!

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love it.
wait the the video...

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Hanah said...

I am going to new air compressor. This compressor is very noise, my wife angry about this. I want to buy compressor vary less than 60db. Do you have a lot of experience, give me your opinions?

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That post was so helpful. I would love to get one, but am wondering how loud it is. I want to Know more about Brad nailer.

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