How A Nailer Works

Whether you are working with a team at a construction site or DIY woodwork projects, you are bound to feel the requirement of a nailer.

Although we deeply appreciate the work done by a nail gun, we are usually clueless about its operation and that is exactly what we are going to talk about today.


Pneumatic Nailer

A nail gun working off an air compressor is known as pneumatic nailer. Its air compressor is attached with a hose.

A light glue is used for holding the nails together to propel its easy loading and provide stability while the nail is shot into a wooden surface.

Air pressure from the compressor into the gun remains stored in a chamber unless the plunger housed at the muzzle is pressed for pulling the trigger.

If your nail gun is working properly then it shall not fire unless you press the plunger against the object you wish to nail.

On being depressed, air pressure flows through the chamber on top of the piston which is attached with a blade. Another plunger is located above this piston.

It is forced up by the compressed air for allowing the air pressure to gain access up to the top portion of the piston.

Once the trigger is pulled, the piston gets forced downwards causing the attached blade to separate the nails.

These are then propelled out through the stored pressure. Once the trigger is released, the inner plunger rises to the top for blocking free flow of air towards the piston.

This continues until the outer plunger is pressed and the trigger is pulled once again.

Cordless Nailer

Cordless nail guns do not feel the requirement of compressed air in its operation which adds up to its usability in hard-to-reach areas.

The combustion chamber of this nail gun is located above the piston in the place of a plunger. The chamber is filled with gas using a canister.

Its battery creates an electric charge which ignites the gas and explodes inside the chamber once the trigger is pulled.

The piston gets driven downwards through this explosion.

Just like a pneumatic nailer, the cordless one also features a blade which comes attached to the piston for separating the nails while they are propelled out of the gun.

The safety mechanism of the cordless nailer is similar to that of its pneumatic peer.

You can thus be guaranteed about the nailer not firing unless its tip is pressed against the surface area you wish to nail.


The nails shall be fired from two different sources depending upon the type of nail gun you are using:

  • Through a hammer which forcefully drives down every single nail at the barrel while firing them out at high pressure and speed.
  • Through a powerful spring which hits the hammer on being released for forcefully firing a nail through the nailer barrel.

After the nail gets driven out into the material you are trying to nail, the glue secures it into position.

The intense friction caused by the piercing action of nail into the material leads to glue melting.

Be it an electric nail gun, combustion-powered nail gun or pneumatic nail gun, its final working mechanism is determined by its intended purpose or firing mechanism.

You can make the most of your nail gun once you get to clearly understand its operational metrics.