Weight: 8.8 pounds
Length: 12.5 inches
Height: 13.8 inches
Nail type: 15-gauge, 34-degree
Nail length: 1 1/4 to 2 1/2 inches
Magazine: Rear load; 110-nail
capacity Street price: $350
Kit contains nailer, one-hour charger, 18-volt
battery, safety glasses, and molded case
Any worthwhile 15-gauge finish nailer should meet four
essential criteria: It should have the power to sink nails in
any common trim material; it should have an adjustable
depth-of-drive; it shouldn't jam; and it should be capable of
firing nails as fast as the user wants to work — meaning
that it should bump-fire without making the user wait between
When I tested cordless finish nailers a couple of years ago
(see "Cordless Finish Nailers," 4/05), only one 15-gauge
cordless gun was available: Senco's AirFree 41. The tool was a
disappointment, mostly because its long windup made bump-fire
Now DeWalt has introduced a 15-gauge version of its DC618
16-gauge nailer. Since I've had good experiences with the older
gun, I figured the new one — the DC628 — would be a
worthy candidate for testing.
The DC628 has a comfortable nonslip grip and a tough plastic
housing (which was severely tested by several significant
drops). Filling its 34-degree rear-loading magazine is easy.
The magazine holds up to 110 DA nails in lengths from 1 1/4 to
2 1/2 inches. I like that the nails are clearly visible, so you
can easily see when it's time for a reload. When the gun's
empty, it stops firing.
Powered by DeWalt's XRP series 18-volt battery, the nailer can
drive 720 nails in a single charge, according to the company.
DeWalt didn't specify the material or length of nail, but we
found we could get nearly an entire day's work out of a fully
charged pack. Getting the battery back up from total discharge
takes 45 minutes to an hour. Unlike most cordless tools, which
begin to wind down when they're ready for a recharge, the DC628
stops cold. Either it's working, driving nails to their desired
depth, or it's ready for the charger. We liked that.
A mode switch on the main housing between the trigger and the
magazine lets the user switch easily from sequential to
bump-fire mode. The toggle was a little awkward to operate, but
we didn't feel the need to change modes much anyway. Bump-fire
is the norm for us, and we found the gun easy to control in all
applications. The manufacturer's specs claim a nailing rate of
four to five nails per second, which is faster than we ever
The 15-gauge nailer has enough power to
countersink nails in just about any common trim material. A
six-position thumbwheel on the side of the housing controls
depth-of-drive (left), and a small toggle between the trigger
and magazine selects sequential or bump-fire mode
The easily accessible depth-setting wheel's six numbered
settings allow the operator to match the depth-of-drive to a
particular material and task.
Like the 16-volt DC618, the DC628 is heavy — 8.8 pounds.
That sounds especially hefty compared with the weight of an
air-powered finish gun — but such comparisons are fair
only if you add in the weight of unsupported air hose. We found
the heft acceptable, though overhead work got tiring after a
while. All the testers on my crew commented on the weight, but
felt that the balance of the gun offset any concern.
"Comfortable to use" was a phrase I heard repeatedly.
The nailer comes with an attached no-mar pad; a spare pad is
stored at the base of the magazine. A tool-free, flip-back
nosepiece makes clearing jams a snap. We dealt with very few
jams during our tests anyway, and none were the fault of the
At first glance, the two LED lights — one on each side of
the gun's main housing — struck us as a little cheesy,
but we were too quick to judge. These small lights are perfect
for reading a level inside a closet, or for any of those other
situations where you need to see just a bit better. They stay
on for about 10 seconds after the trigger is pulled.
Although the DC628's reversible belt hook was handy when we
were running trim from a ladder or scaffold, the gun's
significant weight meant that we had to tighten our belts an
extra notch when we used it — and the tool's large head
left scuff marks on several doorways and cased openings.
A hinged driver housing secured with a
drawcatch makes clearing jammed nails easy. The contact foot
has a no-mar rubber pad; a spare is stored on the
A feature that DeWalt calls a Contact Trip Lock-Off disables
the gun's firing mechanism when somebody holds the trigger for
extended periods. At one point we nearly gave up on the gun
when it wasn't working. Fortunately, someone actually broke out
the owner's manual and diagnosed the problem.
When we received our test gun, we were in the process of
installing trim and Brazilian cherry flooring in a large home.
The house proved to be the perfect test environment, because we
were constantly moving from room to room doing punch-out. In
such circumstances, it's really nice not to have to set up a
compressor or drag out air hose.
The DC628 comes in a molded plastic case
with room for a variety of nails, the charger, and a spare
18-volt battery. Sturdy by modern standards, the case has a
molded piano hinge and metal draw catches.
The entire time we used it, the gun never failed to countersink
a nail — even in oak stair treads. All in all, we think
this gun meets our criteria for a worthwhile 15-gauge cordless
The DC628K — which includes a battery, a one-hour
charger, and a carrying case — sells for about $350. You
can also find reconditioned versions on the Web for $210. As
with any cordless tool, a second battery ($50 to $75) is
essential for job-site applications.Derrell Day owns Day
Construction in Panama City, Fla.
To-Go Pack. With a noise rating of 75
decibels, the CAP1516 TrimAir is about as loud as a household
vacuum cleaner, says its maker. The 1.6-gallon unit weighs less
than 20 pounds and can deliver 1.8 cfm at 90 psi. A wraparound
plastic housing — with built-in handle and cord wrap for
easy transport — protects the regulator, pressure switch,
and gauge. The machine sells for about $180.
Air Supremacy. Reliable and quiet, Thomas's
Renegade compressors are a popular breed among contractors.
Despite its diminutive size, Model T-635HT — the
company's newest version — delivers 1.7 cfm at 100 psi,
meaning it can support one framing nailer or two finish
nailers. It weighs 27 pounds, draws only 6 amps, and operates
at 69 decibels. I found one on the Web for $343.
Little Huffer. It may not seem like a big deal
to some users, but I sure appreciate the sturdy ball-valve tank
drain on DeWalt's Emglo compressors. At 24 pounds, the D55140
is the company's lightest, most portable model. It provides .75
cfm at 90 psi. In addition to the quarter-turn drain valve, it
has a built-in roll cage, top-mounted controls, and a cord
wrap. According to the manufacturer, it draws 2.6 amps and
operates at 69 decibels. It costs about $180.
Lithium IonSmall Impact.
Manufactured with a white
housing (a departure from the company's traditional blue-green
hue), the BTD142HW impact driver is part of Makita's Compact
line of cordless tools. Weighing a mere 2.8 pounds and
measuring less than 6 inches in length, the 18-volt driver
provides up to 1,280 inch-pounds of torque. Even more
impressive is the price: For $220, you get the tool, two 1.5
amp-hour batteries, and a case. Makita
Heavy Hitter. Think back to your first
cordless drill. At the time, did you believe it would ever be
possible to drill concrete efficiently with cordless
technology? Bosch's 36-volt lithium-ion powered 11536VSR rotary
hammer is rated for one-inch holes with a conventional bit and
for 2 1/2-inch holes with a core bit. It has all the features
found on its corded brethren, including 2.2 pounds of impact
force, a multiposition bit holder, and a torque-arresting
clutch. You can find it on the Web for about $600.
Power Up. Hitachi says its 14.4-volt DV14DL
($260) weighs about the same as a 9.6-volt cordless drill yet
boasts 460 inch-pounds of torque and a hammer function. Powered
by the company's newly introduced 14.4-volt lithium ion
platform, the kit includes two 3.0 amp-hour battery packs
(which are compatible with older 14.4-volt Hitachi tools). The
new 14.4-volt lithium ion line also contains a nonhammer
cordless drill (DS14DL; $240) and two impact drivers (WR14DL
and WH14DL; $260 each). Hitachi, 800/706-7337,