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Nailer Reviews, continued

Max SN890CH/34 Clipped-Head This manufacturer's latest foray into the stick nailer market shows that they are in for the long haul. We received a prototype and put it to work immediately. It is an excellent, well-made tool with several features worth getting excited about. First, the side of the nose assembly has a trap door that pivots out to help clear the nosepiece after a jam occurs. Second, the depth-of-drive adjustment is an easily turned wheel located on the right side of the nose assembly. It adjusts in half-turn increments and requires no tools. The most interesting feature is the way that the trigger operates. If you depress the nosepiece and then pull the trigger, it works like a single-shot tool and will not fire again until the trigger is released. This prevents double-tap firing. If the trigger is pulled first, then the tool may be placed against the work and operated like any other contact-trip tool. The top exhaust is rubber and can be rotated easily by hand. The nosepiece has aggressive teeth and the gun toe-nails well. My only complaint is that for a medium-sized gun it feels a little heavy.

Paslode Powermaster Plus F350s

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The Paslode Powermaster Plus stands out in the crowd. With its bright orange exhaust deflector cap and trigger, it's a good-looking gun. It is one of the most compact of the nailers: Nosepiece to top cap measures just 13 inches when depressed. This means that it will almost fit into that 13-inch doubled joist space. The exhaust deflector and drive-depth adjustment require a hex key, but the engineers at Paslode thought enough to provide storage for the wrench in the rear of the magazine. When you pick up the gun, the handle and trigger place your hand right next to the powerhead, which makes the gun feel very light. The aggressive teeth on the nosepiece bit into framing lumber well and allowed the gun to toe-nail easily. It fired every nail that we fed it reliably. This was Scott Robinson's favorite gun (when I rotated the gun to the other crews, he complained the entire time it was gone).

Porter-Cable FR350 Round-Head & FC350 Clipped-Head

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FC350

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FR350

Porter-Cable's entry into pneumatic nailers was a big event several years ago. From a top-notch power tool company a top-notch tool was expected. All of the guys tested this tool, but nobody was really excited about it. It feels large, and at 19 inches from the front to the rear of the magazine, it is. The nosepiece is not as aggressive as those on other guns, so it was not the easiest to toe-nail with. It has good power and handled all of the nails with equal ease. Exhaust deflector and drive-depth adjustment require the use of hex keys. (It would be handy if they both used the same sized key.) The follower on the FR350 has to be let down on the round-head nails or it could crush the plastic collation and cause jams and misfires. There is nothing fancy or outstanding about this gun. It is a reliable performer and falls into the middle of the group.

Senco Frame Pro 600 & 650 Clipped-Head

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Pro 600

When you unpack these nailers, you get the feeling that they are quality tools. The difference between the Frame Pro 600 and the 650 is in the powerhead. The 650 (14 inches) is one inch taller than the 600 (13 inches). This translates into extra power, which is necessary if you use manufactured lumber frequently. There is a no-mar tip included with the guns, and when you remove it you'll know immediately why these guns received the nickname "Jaws." The five aggressive, well-placed teeth on the nosepiece of this gun work great for toe-nailing. The gun feels heavy but handles comfortably and seems compact, measuring just 15-1/8 inches from front to rear of the magazine. Depth-of-drive adjustment requires a wrench and the exhaust is adjustable using a hex key. One unique feature of this gun is the ability to remove the magazine without tools. By loosening a knob at the rear magazine support, you can pull back on the magazine and disengage it from the nose assembly, allowing you to clear a jam quickly.

Senco SN60 & SN65 Round-Head

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SN60/65

These tools are also top quality. Although the comments about the power difference between the 600 and 650 apply here as well, these are different guns from the Frame Pro clipped-head nailers. Besides the nails, the first difference is the weight. The SN65 round-head weighs 8.1 pounds compared to 8.4 pounds for the 650 clipped-head. Height is the same on both guns, but the SN65 is much longer at 19 inches versus 15-1/8 inches on the 650. The nosepiece is not as aggressive as the Frame Pro's, but still works well. The depth-of-drive adjustment requires the use of a hex key and the exhaust uses a hex key also. This was a well-liked, good-quality tool.

Too New To Review

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N88 WW

Stanley-Bostitch introduced the N88WW Clipped-Head Stick Framing Nailer at the International Builders' Show in Dallas on January 14th. According to the manufacturer, at 7.8 pounds this is the lightest framing nailer in the industry, and strong enough for engineered lumber with 1,000 inch-pounds of driving force. Features of this nailer include push-button depth control, no-tools 360-degree adjustable exhaust, and a "dual-load magazine" which can be loaded from the top or the end. Suggested retail price is $379.