Warning: These 9 Nail Gun Mistakes May Destroy Your Dream

Nail guns are simply a tool to accomplish tasks faster and more effectively. They are typically used to fasten two pieces of wood together or drive nails into the materials when you need to build or renovate a home or furniture. But if you break the common rules of operation, it can seriously disrupt your work or even causes injury.

It is estimated that nail guns cause 37,000 emergency room visits annually, of which 60% are work-related, according to the NIOSH report.

However, we’re not here to discuss nail gun injuries (we’ll save that for another time); instead, we’d like to focus on the common nail gun mistakes we make when selecting or using them.

After reading this article, we believe that you will find that using a nail gun is really straightforward. It allows you to finish your projects unexpectedly quickly and get the whole thing to your level with minimal effort.

9 Common Nail Gun Mistakes

You’re learning how to use a nail gun or nailer means you don’t want to make these blunders. You should know the importance of using the correct gauge nailer and nail length. The differences between pneumatic and cordless nailers, sequential and bump firing, and more such things.

In this nail gun beginner’s tutorial, we’ll find the pitfalls and how to avoid them. Let’s start –

1 – Opt For The Wrong Type Of Nail Gun:

On the market, there are various distinct types of nail guns, each with its own purpose. If you’re a beginner, it’s understandable that you may choose the wrong type of nailer. If you pick the wrong nail gun, the cost of production will rise, and in the worst-case scenario, your projects will be ruined.

To choose the right nail gun, you must first assess the type of job you will be performing. We can classify nail guns into two categories based on their use: structural and finishing.

Under the structural section, you will find all heavy-duty nail guns, such as framing nail guns, roofing nailers, or flooring nailers. They’re made to drive the biggest nails, measuring up to 3-1/2 inches long and 8 to 12-1/2 gauge in cross-section (0.099 to 0.162 inches in diameter). These structural frame nail guns will come in handy if you want to build or modify your home, add decks or fences, or do wall siding or sheathing work.

Light duty nail guns, such as finish nailers, brad nailers, or pin nail guns, are found in the finishing category. They’re typically utilized to drive nails for a crown or trim molding installation, staircase repair, shoe or baseboard installation, furniture manufacturing, and other DIY woodworking projects. As a result, you’ll find that these nail guns work best with nails that are modest in diameter and length (usually, finishing nails are 15, 18, or 23 gauges in diameter and 5/8 to 2-1/2 inches long).

When installing crown molding with a framing nailer, you risk splitting the wood piece. In contrast, if you use a finish nailer to construct your house frame, it will collapse in a short space of time, posing a life hazard. So, finish nailers are designed for tiny finishing jobs that require less gripping capacity, whereas structural frame nailers are built to provide heavy holding strength.

Another factor to consider while selecting a nail gun is the power supply. Nail guns are usually powered by compressed air pressure if they are pneumatic or by gas or battery if they are cordless.

To fire nails, pneumatic nail guns require an air compressor and hoses. As a result, they can deliver consistent nail-driving power. They are, however, restricted in their maneuverability.

Battery or fuel-cell driven nailers, on the other hand, can be used almost anyplace because they don’t require any hoses or a large air compressor. However, they can provide power as long as the battery has adequate charge.

As a result, it is a good idea to select a nail gun that is appropriate for the job you are going to do. If you want to pursue woodworking as a career, make sure you have a variety of nail guns in your toolbox.

2 – Decide On The Wrong Size Of Nails:

Many sizes of nails are available that can be driven using various nail guns. Different lengths are available for different gauges of nails, including as 3/8″, 3/4″, 1/2″, 1″, and 1-1/4″. 1-1/2″, 2″, 3-1/2″, and other sizes are available. The size of nails you will need is mostly determined by the size and orientation of the materials.

If you want to fasten two pieces of three-quarter-inch plywood together, which combined thickness will be one and a half inches, you should use a quarter and an inch nail to avoid a bottom blowout. Therefore, it is necessary to keep at least a quarter-inch clearance than the combined thickness of two pieces of wood while joining them face to face.

On the other hand, when you drive nails into plywood that is perpendicular to another board, you can drive a longer size nail than the thickness of the top board without blast out the rear as the vertical position will give the nail enough space to go.

For example, if you want to secure a 3/4″ top board onto a 3/4″ thick plywood, you can use a 1-1/2″ nail. You can also use 2″ nails in this situation, but using more than that will increase the risk of blowout from the board’s side.

When it comes to nail size, the rule of thumb is:

  • Face Nailing: Nail length should be at least a ¼” less than the combined thickness of the two boards.
  • Edge Nailing: Nail length should be 2-3 times of the thickness of the top board.

The holding capacity also depends on the nail size. If you use a shorter nail than required, it may cause serious defects. So, selecting the correct size nails is vital for woodworking.

3 – Overdriving Or Bruising And Underdriving:

Once you’ve selected the right type of nail gun and the correct size of the nail, now it is time to drive nails into the materials. This part is a little tricky if you don’t know how to use a nail gun.

We all know that nail guns come in two varieties vastly: pneumatic and cordless. Among these, the pneumatic nailers are usually propelled by air pressure. If you fail to set the correct amount of air pressure flow, the nails will fire with either too much or too little force, which can lead to overdriving or underdriving problems. In case of overdriving or bruising, nails penetrate into the materials so deeply that holes form. In the worst-case situation, if the wood is soft, it may also split the piece.

When driving little nails like brads into a thin board, bruising might be an issue. The nails penetrate deeply into the thin boards, making it simple to pull out with merely hand pressure. As a result, the thing you built will be wobble.

So, to avoid bruising or underdriving, you should select the correct air pressure. Typically, nail guns are required 70 – 120 PSI air pressure to drive nails. However, you will find a tag or label indicating the recommended minimum and maximum air pressure range on the nailer body or on the magazine.

However, it is usually a good idea to perform a test on spare wood by varying the air pressure on the compressor before proceeding with the final task. You may also use a no-marring pad or painter tap to reduce the bruising effect.

If your nail gun is powered by a battery or fuel, you can modify the drive depth by pressing the depth change button (in the case of an automatic depth change system) or adjusting the barrel depth using a wrench (in case of manual depth change system).

4 – Pick The Wrong Setup For The Nail Gun

We can see that an air compressor is essential to operate pneumatic nail guns. However, if you select the incorrect capacity air compressor, you will either increase your production costs or be unable to get enough airflow to drive the nails correctly.

An air compressor’s capacity is measured in CFM (cubic feet per minute), which indicates how quickly air flows from the compressor to your device. The higher the CFM, the better for smoothly driving a nail gun. If the CFM is less than the needed level of a nailer, you may have to pause in the middle of the job and wait until the compressor kicks back to its cycle.

To calculate the CFM of an air compressor needed to run a nail gun, multiply the required CFM of the nailer by 1.5 times.

Finishing nailers (brad, finish, or pin nailers) often require 0.3–0.5 CFM, while framing, roofing or sheathing nailers typically require 2.0–2.0 CFM. If you want to use a single finish nailer, you’ll need a 2.0 CFM air compressor with a capacity of 2-3 gallons. If you only want to run one framing nailer at a time, you’ll need a 4.0 CFM air compressor with a 4-6 gallon capacity. If you plan to run many tools at once, a larger capacity air compressor, such as a 20 or 30 gallon air compressor, may be preferable.

Let’s have a look at our other blog on “how big an air compressor for a nail gun” for additional information on this subject.

Aside from selecting the appropriate capacity air compressor, you need also consider the nature of the job and the type of nail gun for accuracy.

5 – Check The Nail Gun System Is Oil-Free Or Not:

To keep the mechanism working, most pneumatic nail guns on the market require oil. If you forget to oil the nail gun on a regular basis, the nail gun will become dry and stop firing nails.

So, to keep the tool functioning for a long time, read the manufacturer’s instructions on repair and maintenance and put oil regularly.

Some nail guns, on the other hand, now have an oil-free mechanism. You can avoid the inconvenience of adding oil every day if you buy anything with oil-free technology.

Air compressors, like nail guns, can be lubricated or oil-free. And the same may be said for it. It will be simple to maintain an oil-free air compressor if you choose one.

6 – Avoid Spring Out Or Blow Out The Nails

The spring out or blow out problem frequently occurs with all types of nail guns. However, it’s most typical in the case of brad nailers.

Brads are a type of nail that is very thin and flexible. When driving brads into fairly hard materials, they tend to strike out on the left or right side or blow out from the edges of lumber.

It can also happen with other nail guns if you hold the tip of the nailer too close to the board’s edge or if you don’t hold the nail gun perpendicular or at a 90-degree angle to the board.

Also, try to avoid nailing on a metal surface. It reverses back the nail and may destroy the head of the nail gun.

You can avoid the spring out or blow out simply by adjusting the position of the nail gun during firing. It is best to keep the nailer in the center of the wood’s edge.

7 – Stop Placing Your Finger In The Drive Path

We mentioned at the beginning of this article that approximately 37,000 people are injured as a result of nail gun mistakes. One of the most common causes of these is putting one’s finger in the wrong place while driving or shooting a nail.

To avoid such injuries, keep your finger away from the path of the nail at all times.

8 – Failure To Check Out The Magazine

Dry-fire or blank shooting can damage your work surface as well as shorten the life of your nail guns. As a concern, it’s preferable to use a nailer with a dry-fire lockout system that’s automated. You can also select a nailer with a magazine window to view how many nails are left.

The magazine may also contain the last one or two nails, which are often overlooked. If the size of the residual nails from your magazine is larger than the newly inserted nail, you could wind up with a blowout at the board’s bottom or damage your finger.

As a result, it’s a good idea to check the magazine for any residual nails before inserting a new nail belt.

9 – Avoid Steep Toenailing

To connect two boards perpendicularly, toenails are frequently used. Toenailing is usually done at a 45-degree angle. It’s possible that if you make the angle steeper than 15 to 20 degrees, the nails will fly.

We’ve seen that this happens more often with brad nails, which are more delicate than other types of nails. As a result, take caution when driving brads or finishing nails.


  • When operating a nail gun, always use safety glasses, earbuds, and other protective gear.
  • Don’t charge your nail gun unless you’re going to use it on a material surface.
  • Before you start driving nails, double-check the parts, air pressure, and battery charge.
  • To get the most out of your nailer, make sure it’s the proper one for the job.
  • Read the manufacturer’s instructions carefully and perform routine maintenance.


Nailers or nail guns are essential tools for performing precise and efficient woodworking tasks. If you avoid the above nail gun mistakes, you will discover them to be the most valuable equipment ever.

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Tushar Mirror

Toolsmirror is a group of co-fighters led by Engr. Tushar is dedicated to gathering information, analyzing & test various items, and releasing reviews on various woodwork and outdoor tools. Our mission is to provide our readers with the most up-to-date ideas and approaches, as well as reveal the genuine features that will assist them in selecting the best items for their professions and DIY projects.

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