How to Use a Nail Gun 

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how to use a nail gun

A nail gun is one of the best tools to have for your woodworking, thanks to its accuracy, consistency, and speed. Even better, it’s a good alternative for hammers as it eliminates issues like bent nails, swollen thumbs, and hammer swings. Moreover, it helps to save time and increase stability, making it a great option for large projects like fencing installation or framing a house.

Surprisingly, although it may seem easy, many DIYers don’t know how to use a nail gun. That’s why in this post, I’ll show you how to use a nail gun with utmost efficiency and safety step by step.

First, let me take you through the basic components of a nail gun! 

Key components of electric & pneumatic nail guns 

Different types of nailers feature several moving parts that help help to function safely and properly. Some of these parts include; 

  • Magazine 

This refers to the part of the nailer that holds and feeds linear strips of nails or brads. It usually has a magazine window that allows you to see the nails as well as a spring-loaded latch on the bottom that opens it. 

  • Release mechanism 

Located near the nose, a release mechanism allows you to manually remove jammed or mangled fasteners. 

  • Nose

The nose refers to the part where the brads or nails shoot out of the nailer. When you rest the nailer on the material you’re fastening, this part compresses to allow the gun to fire the nails. More importantly, this acts as a safety mechanism since it prevents the nailer from firing until it’s pressed against a surface. 

  • Magazine release latch 

The latch is located at the end of the magazine. Its main role is to open the magazine so that you can insert a strip of nails/ brads into the gun. 

  • Depth gauge

This is the lever or wheel that is used to set how deep the fastener goes through the work surface. 

  • Trigger 

The trigger is a finger-activated switch that fires the fasteners into the work surface. In most cases, it only functions when the nose is pressed against the material you’re fastening. 

Step-by-step guide on how to use a nail gun 

1. Load the magazine

Disconnect the air hose for a pneumatic nailer and remove the battery pack for an electric nailer, then press the magazine release lever. Put the strip of brads/ nails in the magazine and slide it back in place until it locks. 

2. Set the Depth gauge 

Turn the depth adjustment gauge lever/ wheel to a mid-range point first, and make finer adjustments later. 

3. Connect the nail gun to the power source and turn it on 

If you’ve got a pneumatic nailer, attach it to the compressor with an air hose. Plug in the compressor, switch it on, and give it some time to pressurize the air tank. But, if you’re using an electric nail gun, simply slide or snap the battery pack into place and start up the device. 

4. Press the nailer to test the work material

Hold the nailer at an angle of 90 degrees to a piece of test work materials that is similar to the one you’re working on. Press the nailer firmly until the nose retracts completely. 

5. Squeeze the trigger 

Gently squeeze the trigger of your nail gun to drive the fastener through the test work material and remove the nailer. If necessary, readjust the depth gauge depending on the level of the nail in the work material. 


Before you start shooting the fasteners, ensure you have a firm grip on the nail gun by holding it firmly into position with both hands. More importantly, always aim the nailer at the exact place you want to shoot the nail. In addition, plant your feet firmly on the ground to avoid kickback that might be created when the air pressure inside your nail gun is released. 

To avoid accidents while using the gun, keep your finger off the trigger and always turn it once you’re done using it. Still, on safety, make sure you wear personal protective gear such as safety glasses, a hard hat, and steel-toe shoes while using the nailer!

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