- Nail guns increase speed and risk.construction worker, carpenter image by Greg Pickens from Fotolia.com
Nail guns are powered machines built to replace the common hammer. Most are either pneumatic (air powered) or electric and they drive nails in as quickly as the user can pull the trigger. They can save a significant amount of time, and save the user the exercise of hammering nails manually, but they do present problems. As with most technology, it is worth weighing the gains and losses before deciding to add a new tool to your inventory.
- The nail gun requires close attention since its mechanism may not only hurt its user but also those nearby. A pneumatic nail gun propels nails at an incredibly fast velocity to drive them into wood, stone or flooring. It will certainly penetrate skin. The nail gun's trigger is easy to pull, and may easily discharge. Since builders need to climb precarious heights or wedge into awkward positions when building a home or structure, having a potentially dangerous tool nearby invites more risk.
Beyond the hands, nail guns present hazards to the user's face and eyes from ricochets or chipped material flying from impact. OSHA has issued a series of warnings and statistics on the risks of nail guns, and according to the website Nail Gun Accidents, many injuries could be avoided by following safety procedures.
- Because the user relies on the powered mechanism to do the work and not the force of a hand-held hammer, it is often difficult to tell if a nail gun misses its target. For example, when driving nails into drywall or through roofing, the nail-gun user cannot feel if the nail misses the stud or joist behind the outer layer.
A hammer user knows a nail goes softly into drywall and misses any solid wood behind it. When it comes to finishing a roof, this distinction matters dearly. Improperly fastened roofing will leak, or worse, fly off in inclement weather. Nail gun users should go back over work areas to double-check fastening.
- Unlike a simple hammer hanging lightly on a tool belt, the nail gun is heavy. The nail gun is powered and therefore needs an air hose or electric cord attachment to operate. Users need to lug not only more weight but also dangling cords or hoses in work areas that are already precarious. Needing access to an outlet or air compressor might limit the user's work areas. Extra equipment means extra expense. Nail guns more expensive than hammers and, like most machines, require maintenance to stay in working order.