Palm Nailers Actually Rock!
Of all of the products that I have recently seen on TV, one of the ones that seemed the most illogical was the Craftsman Auto Hammer. The commercials for this battery-powered device clearly show it powering nails into all kinds of wood. It seems unstoppable. But if you think about the amount of force that is required to pound a nail into a board, there is no way that this little tool can do anything like that. I looked up the reviews and it seems that my first guess was correct. Everyone noted that it could not pound real nails into anything and that it is only good for small finishing nails into molding or other thin boards. One interesting thing was that most of the reviewers said that you would be better off buying a pneumatic nailer. So I started looking into them.
Pneumatic palm nailers are awesome little devices that can actually pound some serious nails into serious wood. Because they are pneumatic, you do need an air-compressor to use them. Most only need a minimum of 50 psi of pressure, so even a small compressor can do the job. They do recommend compressors rated to 150 psi for non-stop performance. Now, I have used a gas-powered nailer before and I loved it. Yes, you have to add these chemical cartridges and replace the spark plug on occasion, but the power and ease of use was fantastic. Gas-powered nailers are an absolute must if you are working on ladders or keep having to move around. They are very expensive though; gas-powered nailers can easily run over $800, while pneumatic palm nailers are around $125-$160.
Pneumatic palm nailers are not as quick as there gas-powered kin, but they are very sturdy and give you more control over the nail. Most have a magnetic tip that helps hold the nail and some have interchangeable heads to accommodate different nail types. I personally like the Porter-Cable PN650. It is the only pneumatic nailer that I have had a chance to play with, my brother bought one and loves it! It can handle nails from 1 1/4” to 6 1/2” and only weighs 2 ½ pounds. The other nice thing about it is that you can find them on-line for just a bit over $100.
For tackling around-the-house projects the Craftsman Auto Hammer is alright if you only need to pound a few finishing nails into some small detail pieces, but if you a real automatic hammer, than a pneumatic palm nailer is your only choice at a reasonable price. Make sure to check the tons of product reviews before buying any product that seems to good to be true, such as the Craftsman Auto Hammer.