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Tool Test: Battery-Powered Brad Nailers

Here's what This Old House readers had to say about the latest hose-free nailer models

Nailing It

Pneumatic nailers make installing molding as easy as pulling the trigger—far faster and easier than pounding nails with a hammer. These battery-powered nailers rely on gas "fuel cells" or motors to drive a piston that sinks 18-gauge brads, so there's no compressor or restrictive air hose. Here's what This Old House readers had to say about the latest nailer models.

Senco Fusion FN55AX

Photo by Don Penny/Time Inc. Digital Studio

Price: About $350

Highlight: Shoots nails instantly; no wait for the motor to ramp up. Needs no fuel cells.

Tester: Anthony Sheffer, Traverse City, Mich.

Skill level: Pro ("I'm a trim carpenter.")

Used tool for: Installing cherry casing around a window.

My two cents: "This one fires nails just as fast as the pneumatic nailers I've been using for years."

Tool stats: 6 pounds, 18-volt lithium-ion battery with 45-minute charger; holds 110 nails ⅝ to 2⅛ inches long; drives 600 2-inch nails per charge, two to three per second. Includes nose-mounted LED, adjustable drive depth, single or sequential nailing, two-year tool warranty.

Paslode 901000

Photo by Don Penny/Time Inc. Digital Studio

Price: About $260

Highlight: Drives the most nails per charge.

Tester: Michael Venaski, Miller Place, N.Y.

Skill level: Beginning DIYer

Used tool for: Dressing up a fireplace surround with 1x pine.

My two cents: "The nailer is precise and well balanced."

Tool stats: 5 pounds, 6-volt nicad battery with 120-minute charger; holds 100 nails, ⅝ to 2 inches long; drives 1,200 2-inch nails per fuel cell, 4,000 per charge, two to three per second. Includes adjustable drive depth, single or sequential nailing, one-year tool warranty.

Dewalt DC608K

Photo by Don Penny/Time Inc. Digital Studio

Price: About $280

Highlight: Needs no fuel cell; uses a motor-driven piston to drive nails. Has the best warranty.

Tester: Loren Petty, Boise, Idaho

Skill level: Average DIYer

Used tool to: Assemble pine cabinets.

My two cents: "While it worked well with pine, it struggled in oak scraps. Much quieter than a compressor."

Tool stats: 7½ pounds, 18-volt lithium-ion battery with 60-minute charger; holds 110 nails, ⅝ to 2 inches long; drives 800 2-inch nails per charge, four to five per second. Includes adjustable drive depth, single or sequential nailing, three-year tool warranty.

Hitachi NT50GS

Photo by Ted Morrison

Price: About $300

Highlight: It's the lightest of the bunch.

Tester: Gary Burns, Rio Rancho, N.Mex.

Skill level: Pro

Used tool for: Building oak cabinets and a staircase.

My two cents: "Great tool. It successfully sank brads into iron-hard ipe stair treads."

Tool stats: 4 pounds, 3.6 volt lithium-ion battery with 60-minute charger; holds 100 nails, ⅝ to 2 inches long; drives 1,200 2-inch nails per fuel cell, 2,000 per charge, two per second. Includes adjustable drive depth, single or sequential nailing, one-year tool warranty.

Bostitch GBT1850K

Photo by Don Penny/Time Inc. Digital Studio

Price: About $240

Highlight: Offers the longest warranty of the gas-powered nailers tested.

Tester: Cedric Rose, Cincinnati, OH

Skill level: Beginner ("I've installed some trim.")

Used tool for: Installing pine and MDF shoe molding.

My two cents: "The gun fired consistently, without jamming. I was concerned that the brads would split or shatter the MDF and the narrow, smaller strips of brittle wood molding, but the brads didn't damage either one."

Tool stats: 4 pounds, 3.6 volt lithium-ion battery with 60-minute charger; holds 100 nails, ⅝ to 2 inches long; drives 1,200 2-inch nails per fuel cell; 4,000 per charge, 2 per second. Includes adjustable drive depth, single or sequential nailing, two-year limited warranty.