Getting ready to undertake a massive DIY task with lots of pieces that need to be put together? Going to install some hardwood floor and hate the thought of having to whack in every little piece? Tired of smashing your thumb every time you bust out your trusty hammer? Thankfully, we live in the age of technology. Though hammers are simple, easy, and traditional, there’s a faster way to get your work done: a nail gun. And if you’re thinking about forking over the dough for one of these bad boys, you might be asking yourself: “how does a nail gun work?”
Nail guns are used on a variety of projects today and are definitely useful tools for those involved in professional carpentry and construction. However, you don’t have to work with tools for a living to get good use out of a nail gun. Whether you’re contemplating buying one for yourself or are just curious about the mechanics of these nifty inventions, we can help you gain the knowledge you need in order to comprehend how a nail gun works. So if you’re wanting to learn about the ins and outs of nail guns, you’ve come to the right place. Here’s what you need to know about nail guns.
How Does a Nail Gun Work?
If you’re asking, “how does a nail gun work?” you should know that there’s not a one size fits all answer. There are a number of different nail guns on the market today and many of them make use of different mechanisms to accomplish their task. However, each nail gun has the same core function. They’re all roughly gun-shaped, filled with nails, and apply a sizable amount of force to those nails so they will fully penetrate hard surfaces such as wood or different kinds of metal. They can be used for just about any project that a hammer can be used for and are much more quick and effective.
Another aspect of how nail guns work is the way they are loaded into the gun. One of the key features of a nail gun is that it is supposed to reload a nail after the prior one has been fired. Though there are a number of ways this can be accomplished, the most popular one is by making use of a long, loose strip of nails that are all glued together. The strip is loaded into the magazine which feeds into the barrel. When the hammer drops, it takes the first nail from the strip and fires it into the surface of whatever you’re nailing down. Once the hammer is cocked back, the next nail is pushed into position.
What Kinds of Nail Guns Are There?
Now that you’ve got your answer to, “how does a nail gun work?” you might be wondering what kinds of nail guns there are. Though all nail guns have the same focus and function, they differ in the way they accomplish that function. There are several models of nail guns on the market today, and each category works at least slightly differently than the others. While this list may not be totally exhaustive and comprehensive, it should give you a good idea of the different kinds of nail guns you can find in a hardware shop or online.
Spring-Loaded Nail Guns
These are probably the simplest types of nail guns you can find on the market today. They use plain springs to create the hammering force. This design uses a motor to rotate two drive axles. The front one moves a small scooper plate, which is a metal disc with a groove embedded into it. The rear axle moves a gear train that itself turns a triangular metal cam. When this cam is turned, it pushes down a lever which in turn pivots to push up a harmer. The hammer compresses two springs and also has a knob on one end; as the lever pushes the hammer, the scooper plate catches the knob.
The rotating cam simultaneously releases the lever, which itself lets go of the hammer (which is now held tight by the scooper plate). As the plate turns, it lifts the hammer up high and lets it go; at this point, the dual springs slam the hammer down at high speed. This is when the nail is forced from the gun and accomplishes whatever task you’ve set it to.
Electromagnetic Nail Guns
Some nail guns make use of something called a solenoid. A solenoid s a simple kind of electromagnet that’s used in lots of different machines. When you run electricity through a wire, you generate a magnetic field. This field can be amplified by winding the wire in a coil. Electromagnetic fields always have a polar orientation (meaning they have a north and south end). Using a solenoid, you can alter the orientation of these poles. By reversing the flow of the current, you can make the north and south ends of the magnet switch places.
Solenoids are electromagnetic coils that have a sliding piston inside them. In nail guns, this piston is made of magnetic material. Meaning you can apply the current through the coil and the electromagnetic field repels the piston (which is attached to a blade). This blade hits the nail and pushes it out of the gun with a strong force. The piston also hits an electrical switch at the bottom of a cylinder which reverses the current and takes the piston back to prepare it for another hit. Though this is an effective method, these nail guns are limited in power output and may not penetrate tougher substances with just one blow.
Pneumatic Nail Guns
These are definitely the most popular type of nail gun. They use compressed air (usually generated by a gas-powered air compressor) as the hammering force. The air compressors themselves usually have one or more piston cylinders that take in the surrounding air on the upstroke and force it through the gun on the downstroke. This gives the gun a steady supply of compressed air that flows into the gun’s air reservoir. Pneumatic nail guns also use the same kind of hammer as an electromagnetic nail gun, with the sliding piston attached to a blade and so forth.
So what happens when you pull the trigger on a pneumatic nail gun? The trigger valve closes, and that creates a passageway to the atmosphere. The plunger in the gun rises, and the compressed air travels to the piston head. At this point, the air drives the piston and blade down, which shoots the nail from the chamber. These types of nail guns are typically great at what they do and can even penetrate hard material with thick nails. However, if you use one, you’ll likely have to take a hefty air compressor with you wherever you go in order to power your gun.
Combustion Nail Guns
These guns create their driving force the same way a car powers its engine. Just like the pneumatic nail gun, it has a blade attached to a sliding piston moved by an imbalance in atmospheric pressure. Combustion nailers have a reservoir filled with gas; an electronic control mechanism lets a small amount of the gas into a combustion chamber located above the piston head. There, a fan vaporizes the gas and mixes it with air particles. This type of gun also has two triggers.
When you hit both triggers, a valve piece slides back around the cylinder and closes the exhaust port. It also opens the intake port to the gas supply and closes it after a small amount of time. This lets the gas in the chamber; the fan mixes it with air and then the battery sends a charge to a spark plug (also located in the chamber) which ignites the gas. The resulting pressure drives the piston blade into the nail, and the nail is propelled forward. The second trigger is used for safety as you have to both pull the trigger and press the device against a surface in order to shoot.
What to Know When Using a Nail Gun
Now that you’ve got your answer to “how does a nail gun work?” for several kinds of guns, there are a few things you should know before you use one. The most important thing is safety. Always make sure that your gun is pressed against a hard surface when you fire it and that there’s nothing to obstruct the nail’s pathway. You don’t want any injuries, and nail guns can be dangerous. Keep your finger off the trigger until you’re sure it’s time to shoot and make sure you never drop your instrument.
“How does a nail gun work?” Well, that question has now been put to rest. There are several types of nail guns on the market today that make use of different mechanisms in order to shoot nails and reload them. So if you’re considering purchasing one for your next project, keep this article in mind and pick which one works best for you. And remember: safety first!
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