By Tim McNamara
Paslode has given its new nailer — the PowerFramer 350S — a whole new design. When my framing crew and I first used it last fall, we were immediately struck by how different it is from our old Paslode guns. For one, the magazine loads from the rear. (Old models loaded from the top.) The nose assembly is new and has a toolless adjustable depth-of-drive. Previous models had adjustable depth-of-drive, too — but they required an Allen key.
Weight, Balance, Power
This gun is really comfortable to use. Like some of the newer models from Max, Hitachi, and DeWalt, it's short in height — and therefore easy to maneuver in narrow joist bays. It's also more than a pound lighter than its predecessor and feels more balanced in the hand. An ergonomic molded rubber grip raises the comfort level even further.
We used the gun every day, testing its driving power with both clipped-head and Paslode RounDrive nails. It had no trouble setting fasteners in LVL material, engineered joists, subflooring, wall and roof sheathing, and — of course — dimensional lumber. Despite its power, the sound it makes firing is more like the pop of a 15-gauge trim gun than the gush of a framing nailer.
Ribs in the main casting reinforce the gun's body, but we still managed to break part of the tool. A 2x8 fell onto the air fitting and broke the threaded piece it screws into, which is located at the back of the grip. The repair was easy once Paslode sent a replacement part. That mishap aside, I like how this part of the tool is arranged: With the air fitting at an angle, the hose is directed out of the way.
Dimensions (HxL): 13 inches by 18 inches
Weight (by JLC): 7.75 pounds
Nail length: 2 to 3 1/2 inches
Nail diameter: .113 to .131 inch
Street price: $299
The gun comes with the trigger set to fire sequentially. To change it to contact trip, you remove a pin and reinstall it in a different hole. Although easier than having to change triggers, this approach is not really practical for switching back and forth between modes, because the pin — and the clip that secures it — is small and would inevitably get lost if moved on a regular basis.
The tool comes with a folding composite rafter hook. I like being able to hang the gun from the hook but have doubts about the long-term durability of one made from plastic.The PF350S is factory-configured to work in sequential-trip mode. To bounce-fire, you remove the trigger (left) and reinstall it in a slightly different position. The folding rafter hook (right) is a handy feature, but it's plastic and may not be very durable.
The Bottom Line
I'd recommend the PF350S to anyone who frames. It has good power, and the weight and balance are great. The one thing I can't speak to — because this is a completely new gun — is how well it'll hold up over time. I'm not really worried, because I think Paslode makes durable tools. But I can't personally vouch for the durability of this model because I've had it only a few months.
The PF350S takes clipped-head nails. For carpenters in areas where full round-head fasteners are the norm, Paslode's sister company, Duo-Fast, sells the DF350S, a 20-degree round-head version of this tool.
Tim McNamara is a framing contractor in Rochester, N.Y.
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