Saturday, June 4, 2016

It’s Always the 4th of July When You Own a Palm Nailer

Porter-Cable Palm Nailer PN650

Everyone has his or her weakness, be it shoes, books, music, or whatever. One of mine – I have several, unfortunately – is power tools. Fortunately, using tools for projects gives me the best excuse to buy new ones. Can people say that about their shoe habits? Happily, my wife buys them for me as gifts – perhaps because of the carpenter genes she got from her Dad. One such gift was a device that lands somewhere in the middle between "why didn't I think of that?" and "why would anyone want that?" It's a Porter-Cable PN650 Palm Nailer. Not familiar? Think on this:

In almost every building project you find yourself trying to sink one or two framing nails in a tight spot. Those would be the places where you have to use a side of the hammer instead of the head… The nails usually bend, making you start over or just give up, leaving a weak joint. A palm nailer is designed to avoid that misery, and it also has plenty of other uses. Here's how it one works:

Using a Palm Nailer 

Remember the Supremes singing “Stop In the Name of Love”? Well, Diana Ross belts out "Stop!" and three white-gloved hands come like traffic cops signaling you to halt. Right then, the ladies are ready to strap on a palm nailer and get working!

A palm nailer is a small air-powered tool that fits in the palm of your hand. Mine, like most, straps in place with Velcro® for stability, with the business end pointing out when you do your Supremes impression. Where a conventional nailer takes sticks or coils, a palm nailer works with standard nails. You fit a nail into the tip, press down on the head, and the nailer takes over. An internal "hammer" starts pounding away, and bam! the nail sinks in.

Admittedly, it's rather disconcerting the first time you use one: you get a heavy vibration in your hand and it sounds like someone’s lit a string of Black Cats. But that nail will almost immediately disappear: Porter-Cable’s PN650 runs at 2300 blows per minute on 100 psi, or nearly 40 blows per second. You can sink a 16d framing nail to its head in treated lumber in a single shake of a lamb’s tail – that fast! What's more, once the nailhead is flush the nailer automatically stops to prevent surface damage.

Using one takes just a little practice, mostly to become accustomed to pressing down to nail, the rather loud noise level, and keeping the nail upright. The head has a magnet that lets you run the nailer one-handed, but it takes some practice.

Porter-Cable suggests using a palm nailer for most framing applications, especially attaching joist hangers), driving dowels, pounding in landscape spikes, laying carpet tack strips, and many other uses.


  • Overall weight about 40 ounces 
  • Operating pressure from 50-120 psi. 
  • Thickness about 4½” – when loaded with a 3” nail in the tip, it fits into about 7½”, far less than the room needed to swing a claw hammer! 
  • Includes a male hose adapter with a built-in dust cover. 
  • Depth of drive adjustable. 
  • A tanned leather glove fits over the nailer, with a padded Velcro strap that fits any size hand. 
  • Ships with 
    • 4 Tips: (1) a standard tip for common nails up to 70d (landscape spikes), (2) a magnetic tip for 3d to 16d common nails, (3) a nylon no-mar tip for finish nails up to 3d, and (4) a hammer head to drive dowels or form sheet metal, such as auto body work. 
    • A formed plastic case holds the nailer and glove, with nooks for tips and accessories. 
    • Owner's manual
    • Wrenches for changing tips
    • Air tool lubrication oil

So if you're near my house and you think there are firecrackers going off in the middle of the day, you never know, it might just be me and my palm nailer.


Plus: versatile, fast and accurate
Minus: loud
What they're saying: Stop trying to drive nails with the side of the hammer head – pick up a palm nailer!

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