How Does a Pneumatic Nail Gun Work?

Working with various pieces will make you come to a particular situation. And it’s about using nails for joining. It is a pretty boring task, and also it takes a long time.

This was a huge issue when nailers were not present on the list. Today, most related workers will use a quality nail gun. It is great to sort out such needs in a short matter of time.

There are quite a few types of nail guns available on the market. But one kind is popular when the journey of the nail gun started. I’m talking about the pneumatic nail gun.

Let’s figure out today how pneumatic nail guns work.

What is a Pneumatic Nailer?

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We all know by now that a nailer drives nails inside materials. Such as wood or boards.

There’s one particular type of combustion nail gun that uses compressed air. And so, it is popularly known as a Pneumatic nailer. These driven are my electromagnetism — some need highly flammable gasses. In most cases, propane is preferably usable.

How Does a Pneumatic Nail Gun Work – Step by Step?

Having the best nailer won’t be enough. Especially if you don’t get deep into the mechanism.

There are quite a few options. For example, the DeWalt nail gun and the Bosch pneumatic nail gun. These suit beginners very well. But we should go into those areas later at least after grasping enough knowledge about the ins and outs.

The Anatomy of Parts

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Do you know why beginners have so much trouble understanding nail gun uses? Because they just directly jump into using it. Maybe after going through a few pneumatic nail gun diagram pictures. Clearly, this is not enough.

And so, we would have a segment covered for the parts in a pneumatic nail gun. Here are some pointers in that regard. There is a part called the air compressor. It is usually getting power through gasoline or electricity. This part has the responsibility of supplying compressed air.

The next part is called an air reservoir. This segment is basically a hose that takes the responsibility to push air. The air supplied by the compressor and reservoir delivers into a holding space.

The conventional style pneumatic gun has a typical piston. This part comes with a standard shaft. It’s known as a driver. This part is in charge of contacting the nail guns’ heads. Also, it forces the surface you are working on.

Finally, the piston is a part that stays inside the nail gun’s cylindrical body. There’s a valve right above the piston. This is to hold air in place.

General Mechanism Idea

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At the starting point, air pressure above the piston is less than the pressure below it. The cylinder can hold the piston in the top position. By triggering, the nail gun initiates the valve. So, it opens and forces air to enter the cylinder. This creates increasing pressure above the piston.

Next, the drive of the piston goes downwards, and the hammers nail. With a releasing trigger, the air locates in the cylinders’ surroundings starts venting. This happens through tiny holes. The holes exist at the cylinders’ bottom half.

So that the below pressure of the piston increases once again. This leads to bringing back the piston to its original position. Then the valve opens back to push used air. This is possible with the help of a port that stays at the nail guns’ top.

The valve then closes itself while a passage opens up to the atmosphere. This positioning does not allow any kind of airflow into the above portion of plungers. Now because of the change in pressure, the plunger will start to rise up so that the air compressed can make its way to the head of the piston.

A drive seems to push the piston and blade downwards. The nail can propel out from its chamber. The sliding piston then drives air within the cylinder through holes back into place. With increasing air force, the chamber’s pressure level rises.

And so, when you release the trigger, the plunger slides back into place. Meanwhile, the airflow to the piston head gets blocked.

Now that there is no downward pressure, the piston head also makes a return to its original spot. The air on the piston’s head gets out into the atmosphere.

And that is how a pneumatic nail gun effortlessly drives thick nails into hard materials. You may have to drive a cumbersome tool with the bulky air compressor. But the results are really awesome.

Here’s a video on the easy demonstration of how a pneumatic nail gun works to help you out.


That was my simple guide on how a pneumatic nail gun works. Hopefully, you have sorted out the major concerns related to the pneumatic nailers’ working mechanism.

Of course, you just can’t step into using one after reading this. It might need some time to drill nails into expensive materials properly. So, my suggestion would be to practice over some cheap scrap pieces before actually trying on your prized possessions.

So, do you have any thoughts to share on a pneumatic nail gun? Let Us Know in the comment section below.


Can I use a pneumatic nailer without previous knowledge?

There are some pneumatic nail guns that come with quite confusing operations. And so, you may need a valid operator’s permit in some states to work with it. Ensure this by visiting a qualified training agency. Or you can take the help of an instructor. One such example is Hilti guns.

What is a pneumatic framing nailer?

The framing type of nail gun is popularly used for joining two separate wooden pieces. It’s used to penetrate the nails deep inside the wood to keep them secure. These are pretty powerful designs. They use a special system to work. It’s considered the conventional and standard version of a pneumatic nail gun.

What is a pneumatic brad nailer?

The design is quite similar to a standard pneumatic nail gun. But a brad nail gun uses a tiny head. Also, it works with a much thinner frame than usual nail guns. These are preferable to work with small trims.

Also, they are great for adding tiny stops or moldings. Usually, the nails are 18-gauge. And so they don’t leave huge holes. In fact, the holes are so tiny that there’s no need to apply putty once you are done.

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